Knowing the right type of questions to ask and how to ask it, is an important mentoring skill. It facilitates deeper learning and engages the mentee as an active learner.

1. Ask direct questions when you want to draw out a quiet or reluctant mentee, obtain specific information to refocus.

Tip: Start by using the mentee’s name

2. Use reverse questions when you want to encourage your mentee to think reflectively, to diffuse a hostile response or to bring out a quiet mentee in a group mentoring session.

Tip: Instead of answering a mentee’s question, ask them what they think.

3. Use relay questions for group mentoring by drawing out the expert or knowledgeable person to assess the feelings of others or to cut off someone who is monopolizing the session.

Tip: Instead of immediately answering a question, open it up to other members of the group to respond.

4. Use probing to deepen and expand the thinking of your mentee.

Tip: Ask . . .
-“What else did you learn from that situation?”
-“How does that compare to the experience you first had?”
-“What else did you take away from the feedback?”

5. Use paraphrasing and clarifying techniques frequently to avoid miscommunication and making assumptions.

Tip: Ask . . .
-“So you’re saying that…?”
-“What do you mean by that?”
-“Is that the reason that you…?”

Learn more tips on developing mentees learning strategies.