Topics in Mentoring

Some will find it easy to discover topics to talk about and questions to ask. Others might feel that they lack topics and questions. Both stand to benefit from a look at this list to make their mentoring complete and gain as much as possible.

Career Paths

You could discuss different career paths, depending on the interest of the mentee and the background of the mentor. This is probably the most obvious topic for mentoring It is also possible to refer the mentee to a person from the mentor‘s network for additional career paths.

Topics could be:

  • Skills required – who is hired?
  • Culture at the workplace
  • How to read job ads & prepare interviews
  • Fit with personal skills, values, interests


Regarding self-management, there is a lot to reflect and to learn, also on issues that might seem mundane, such as task or e-mail management. Setting priorities or dealing with conflict is a life-long learning journey. You will benefit from reflecting this together. If a mentee is interested in a leadership position, there are elements to this that have to with self-management more than just with a career path: How do you get feedback? How do you take decisions under uncertainty? Etc.

Topics could be:

  • Self-organization: tasks, e-mail
  • Conflict management
  • Prioritization
  • Saying No
  • Leadership

Specific situations at the workplace

Many topics are best discussed with a specific example in mind. Use these situations in your mentoring talks. What you want to avoid, though, is discussing only everyday life. Use the situations to get to more general reflections. So when the mentee wants to ask for a bigger role in a project, reflect communication strategies: How do you prepare for a negotiation? How do you argue? ow do you reflect the repercussions of the situation on the team as a whole?

Topics could be:

  • How do I make myself more visible in a meeting?
  • How could I ask for a bigger role in this project?
  • How can I deal with person X?

Informal Rules & Networks

Having somebody who will guide you through the informal rules is a top reason for seeking a mentoring relationship.

Topics could be:

  • How would my CV be read in your field?
  • How can I approach a more senior person?
  • What do you talk about if … ?
  • Role of networks in career advancement

Private Life

Your professional life is always connected to your private life. Even being a spy who cannot tell their partner about their job does have an effect on the relationship. So it is important to talk about that. To which extent you feel comfortable doing so is something you might want to address.

Topics could be:

  • Balanced Life
  • Career Plans & Family Life
  • Career decisions in dual careers

👍🏽Revisit this list when you are planning your next meeting!

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Work. Suited for me.

Personalized coaching on time- and self-management as well as career counselling – not just for academics.

Dr. Christiane Kasack

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