2e. Create the Foundation for a Trusting Relationship

In order to build a strong foundation for a mentoring relationship, it is critical to build trust and clearly establish expectations at the beginning of the partnership. Use the following questions to guide your first mentoring conversation, which will help you get to know one another and establish mutual expectations and goals. Note both parties’ responses for future reference.

Personal and Professional Background

  • What is your educational and professional background (including an explanation of your current role and how long you have been with the organization)?

  • What are your greatest strengths? Greatest weaknesses?

  • What are your short-term career goals? Long-term career goals?

  • What are your hobbies/interests outside of work?


  • What do you see as my role as your mentor?

  • What ground rules should we set (e.g., confidentiality, openness, candor)?

  • What topics are off limits (e.g., performance reviews, personal lives)?

  • What do you think will be challenging about this relationship?

  • Are there any topics of urgent interests?

  • What topics do you want to cover in our conversations?

  • What do you hope to gain from this relationship?

  • How do you prefer to communicate between meetings?

  • When is the best time for you to meet on a regular basis?

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