Guidance for Mentees

When selecting a mentor:

  • Spend some time thinking about the skills, knowledge or experience that you would like to gain, and who might be in the best position to help you. Do you need more than one mentor at a time, or can you prioritise certain skills or knowledge and focus on developing those?
  • Think about your potential mentor’s personality, as well as his or her role and experience. How might you work together? Which personality traits might help you to achieve your goals?
  • What do you want to achieve? Why is he or she the right person to help you? What time commitment or help would you like?

When working together:

  • Remember that your mentor is giving up time to help you – you should try to ensure that the relationship runs as smoothly as possible.
  • Be prepared to take responsibility for keeping the relationship moving – for example frequency of meetings and setting the agenda.
  • Ensure that you are both clear on how the relationship will work. For example, how long will you work together? How often will you meet? How will you communicate between meetings? What level of confidentiality will you maintain?
  • Try to plan your meetings in advance (diaries fill up fast).
  • Be aware that your mentor may not be comfortable or willing to offer all of the help that you would like. Try to make your motives clear to your mentor so that he or she understands why you are making a particular request.
  • Consider keeping notes of when meetings took place, what was discussed in meetings and any points of action. These notes could be fairly factual, or could form the basis of a reflective log or diary.
  • Try to take any feedback offered by your mentor as constructively as possible – be prepared to reflect on what your mentor says and how you can make real use of his or her comments.
  • Consider sharing successes and positive experiences as well as problems with your mentor so that he or she is aware of your successes too.
  • If you do experience any problems with the relationship, be prepared to discuss them with your mentor. Different working styles or expectations need not mean that a mentoring relationship cannot succeed, but it may require more work.
  • Plan to review your mentoring relationship and be prepared to amend things if necessary.


These guidelines are reproduced by kind permission of Dr Claire Stocks, University of Manchester.

Find out more:

What is mentoring?

How does the scheme work?


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Mentoring for Research Staff

For more information please contact:

Dr Naomi Irvine (Research Staff Development Officer), Leicester Learning Institute,, tel 0116 223 1449.

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