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Interviewing a Potential Mentor

(Continued from Page 1:  How to Choose a Patient Advocacy Mentor)

Now you are prepared to begin interviewing potential mentors. You can find a list of potential mentors here.

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.

Don’t make any commitments unless and until you have already called the other mentors you intend to call (you should try to call at least 2-3.)

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.

(See also:  The Top 10 Questions Patient Advocacy Mentors Are Asked)

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