Interview Patient Advocacy Mentors (Article 2)

This is the second in a three-part series about working with mentors.
Or return to Step 1: Are You Ready to Work with a Mentor?.


How to Choose the Right Mentor

Choosing the right mentor requires some preparation to be sure you know what you want and need, and that the mentor you choose will be the right one for you.

  1. Do your gap analysis – your needs assessment. This will help you set your goals for working with your mentor. Just like you would do a gap analysis to decide what educational courses to take, you can do the same to prepare for mentoring. The only difference is that you will want to be far more specific for a mentor. Taking a college course can help with the big picture. But the benefit to working with a mentor is getting the fine details worked out. Here is how to do your gap analysis.
  2. Your gap analysis should produce a list of needs: questions and tasks you need to overcome, or develop, or accomplish – with assistance, of course. So your second preparation step is to group those questions and tasks by similarities (for example, you might have three items that relate to marketing and two more that relate to financials).
  3. Prioritize your needs as best you can. If you have trouble prioritizing them, then that might be something your new mentor can help you with.
  4. Finally, develop specific questions to ask a mentor during the interview process. The questions on the next page will be a start, but you’ll need to ask questions specific to your needs, too.

Now you are prepared to begin interviewing potential mentors.

Interviewing a Potential Mentor

Now you are prepared to begin interviewing potential mentors.

Your overall focus will be to identify the person who matches your needs list most closely, and who you think you can create a positive, and professional working relationship with. The mentor-mentee relationship is one-on-one. You need to get along and respect each other to make it work.

Please note: this is not the same as finding the person who charges the least. You may learn much more in a shorter (and less expensive) period of time from the RIGHT mentor than you will from the one who simply charges less than others.

Here are the questions to ask. Feel free to add your own, of course:

  • What is your background? What made you want to be a private advocate?
  • How long have you been in practice as a private advocate?
  • What is your mentoring strength? (and then, of course, you’ll want to compare that to your list of needs)
  • List the gaps you are trying to fill – and discuss with the mentor how well he/she might be able to fill those gaps. This list comes from your needs assessment – #4 in your gap analysis.
  • How much time do you think it would take us if I promised to stay up with assignments?
  • How much would you charge me to help me with this list? What are your payment terms? (For example, some advocates will charge one up-front amount for a certain number of hours. Others will be amenable to being “on call” as you need them.)
  • May I see a copy of your contract before I agree to work with you?
  • Where can I learn more about you? (Expect a website or LinkedIn listing as your answer.)
  • Would it be possible for me to connect with other advocates you have mentored to ask them about their experiences with you?     

The best mentors will have a list of questions for you, too. Answer them honestly and realistically. So, for example, if they ask about how much time you can commit within one week, don’t promise three hours if you have only 30 minutes. That doesn’t do either of you any good.

Finally, make your choice, of course.  And – as a professional – you should also provide feedback to the mentors you do NOT choose.  Send each an email telling him/her why you decided against their services. Your feedback may help them improve their mentoring services to others.


Now Read:  Part 3: The Top 10 Questions Patient Advocacy Mentors Are Asked

[hr] or Return to Part 1: Are You Ready to Work with a Mentor?


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