Identifying and selecting mentors

Section subject: How to establish selection criteria for mentors, by considering personal attributes and the essential and desirable qualities required in a mentor.


Organisations need to establish criteria for selecting mentors. How detailed these criteria are will depend on the purpose of the mentoring scheme.

There are several key questions that need to be addressed:

Whatever your criteria, how can you ensure that mentors actually have the skills required to fully implement an effective mentoring scheme?

This section will consider some of these questions and show examples of the selection process.

Learning objectives

This section will help you to:

Mentor selection criteria

Before applying for a mentoring role, individuals may be asked to consider selection criteria.

These criteria might include:

Essential mentor requirements

This list of qualities, attributes and experience are really the minimum essential mentor requirements.

Mentor qualities

When identifying mentors itís a good idea to consider the sort of desirable qualities, as well as the essential requirements, that a mentor should have.

Effective mentors should:

Mentor qualities

What desirable qualities do you think a mentor should have? Remember, desirable qualities should be combined with essential requirements to identify training needs for potential mentors.

Personal attributes

Mentors need considerable skills in the field of human relations to engage successfully with their mentees.

Mentors need to:

As part of the selection process itís important that mentors recognise their own attributes in order to work to their strengths and benefit their mentees. These attributes include the way you approach work and life.

Mentoring and learning styles

As well as your general approach, there are certain attributes that may affect your style of mentoring. Most people use a mix of styles when mentoring and in turn, individual mentees respond differently to different styles. Itís useful to consider your preferred mentoring style and its possible strengths and weaknesses.

The role of mentor also involves a considerable amount of learning needs analysis to ensure that mentoring is effective for the mentee. It is helpful to conduct a learning needs analysis on yourself so that you can understand the process that a mentee has to undergo.

Learning needs analysis

Using some, or all, of the suggested standards for mentors, carry out this learning needs analysis, either by yourself or with a critical friend or colleague. Complete this form for your colleagueís main area(s) for development.

Use this equation to establish a developmental need:

Performance requirements (may be defined by standards) - Present actual performance = Area for performance development (the sum of individual learning needs)

Areas of performance to be discussed:  

Required level of performance:  

Present level of performance:  

Area for performance development:  

Suggested professional learning/training required to bridge performance gap:  

Any other comments:  

Selection checklist

When selecting mentors it is useful to have a checklist of criteria that you can complete like the form below. You can use these criteria to compare candidates.

Criteria Comment
Set high standards for themselves  

Show enthusiasm for their job and the organisation  

Enjoy working with others and sharing and developing ideas  

Be critical thinkers  

Be reflective and self-critical  

Be able to listen and communicate effectively with others  

Have a variety of teaching techniques  

Be sensitive to the needs of others  

Understand the requirements of Ofsted/ALI/FeNTO  

Be willing to support their colleagues  

Continually strive to improve their performance  

Final word

When selecting mentors, answering the following questions will set your choice of parameters.

Once you have decided on the answers to these questions you need to decide on how close your mentors need to be to both essential and desirable skill sets that you have defined. If the match or fit between mentors and skills is not at a premium, you need to consider how much time you can spend on training and whether, at the end of training, it will be effective.

Be sure that the more time you spend on planning your programme, the more effective and sustainable it will be.

You might like to reflect on the issues arising from this section and make some notes for the future.

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