How to answer "What is your experience with mentoring or coaching others?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why employers ask this

When an employer asks about your experience with mentoring or coaching others, they are interested in assessing your leadership skills and ability to work with others. The question helps them determine if you will be a good fit for a particular position.

Employers also ask this question to know if you have experience in guiding and assisting others. If you’re applying for a managerial or supervisory role, the ability to lead and manage a team is an essential requirement. Hence, having previous experience in coaching and mentoring others is a valuable skill that employers seek.

Furthermore, the question allows employers to determine if you possess communication and interpersonal skills. A good mentor or coach needs to have strong communication skills to convey their ideas and instructions clearly.

How to answer the question

When answering the question about your experience in mentoring or coaching others, you should focus on your previous experiences and achievements. Use specific examples that demonstrate how you’ve helped others achieve success.

Start by highlighting experiences that showcase your ability to successfully mentor or coach others. It might be an experience that happened in a work setting, a volunteer position, or even a personal experience.

Additionally, be sure to discuss your approach. Talk about the methods you use to understand your mentee's or coachee's strength and weakness, as well as your strategies for guiding them to achieve their goals.

It’s important to show a genuine interest in helping others. This will demonstrate that you’re enthusiastic about taking on the role of a mentor or coach.

Finally, don't forget to talk about the outcomes of your coaching or mentoring. Be sure to discuss how you helped others achieve success and how their achievements have impacted your team or organization. This shows the employer that you’re committed to helping others succeed, and your efforts had a positive impact.

Sample answers

1. Bad answer:

I don't have any experience with mentoring or coaching others, but I'm willing to learn.

Why it's a bad answer: This answer is bad because it doesn't provide anything useful to the interviewer. As a job seeker, it's important to showcase your previous experiences.

2. Good answer:

At my previous job, I was responsible for training new employees on our software and getting them up to speed. I also mentored a junior associate in developing their project management skills. Through these experiences, I learned the importance of being patient, understanding, and clear in my communication. I found it rewarding to see my mentees' growth and progress.

Why it's a good answer: This answer is good because it provides specific examples of mentoring and coaching experiences. The candidate also highlights the skills they gained and the satisfaction they found in the role, making them a strong candidate for the position.

3. Bad answer:

Oh, I've mentored a few people here and there, but nothing notable.

Why it's a bad answer: This answer is bad because it doesn't provide any specific details about the candidate's experience. It's important to provide enough information to give the interviewer an understanding of your level of experience and skills.

4. Good answer:

I've had several years of experience mentoring junior colleagues in my field. In my last role, I led a mentorship program that paired new hires with experienced employees to provide guidance and support. I also volunteer as a mentor for a local nonprofit organization, helping young people develop their professional skills and reach their career goals. Through both of these experiences, I've learned how to tailor my approach to each mentee's individual needs and challenges.

Why it's a good answer: This answer is good because it provides specific details about the candidate's relevant mentoring and coaching experience, including their leadership in a mentorship program. They also showcase their commitment to giving back to their community, and their ability to adapt their approach to individual mentees.

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