Paul Haarman: 8 Questions to Ask When Looking For a Mentor

Mentorship is integral to career growth for both mentors and mentees. A mentor can be a valuable source of information, guidance, support and connections explains Paul Haarman.

However, navigating the waters of this relationship can be tricky and it’s hard to know when you’ve found someone who really has your best interests at heart. So how do you weed out the bad eggs and find a good mentor?

Here are some questions to ask:

1. Do You Feel Validated?

A great mentor should make you feel like your thoughts and feelings matter, and that they’re trying their best to understand what you’re going through. They should be able to empathize with your situation based on their own experiences outside of the relationship. If instead, they seem dismissive or like they don’t give a damn about what you have to say (even if it isn’t phrased as such), it could mean they’re just using you for their own personal gain.

2. Are They Empowering You?

A good mentor should be looking to empower you with the skills and knowledge that they have, in order to help you succeed says Paul Haarman. If instead, they seem more like a distraction or an obstacle, constantly criticizing your ideas and actions; it could mean they’re there only to serve their own interests and not yours (which more than likely won’t align).

3. Do You Feel Bad For Them?

The best mentors know what they’re talking about because they’ve been through similar situations that you may be going through. As such, they can give great advice that makes sense because of this shared experience. If instead your mentor comes off more like a victim or someone who is just waiting for you to save them, it could mean they’re not as insightful as they claim and that their advice may not be sound.

4. What Does Your Gut Tell You?

Your gut is often the best judge of character and if something’s up, you’ll likely know right away. Trust your instincts and don’t ignore any red flags because your intuition will never steer you wrong. If instead, everything seems kosher and professional, then lucky for you, you probably have a good egg on your hands.

5. Are They Focused On The Right Things?

A good mentor will be able to help you prioritize your goals and give advice about how to achieve them in a meaningful way. If instead, they seem unfocused or like they’re just going through the motions, it could mean that their interests aren’t truly in line with your goals and that their advice may not be applicable to you explains Paul Haarman.

6. Do They Label You?

One sure sign that someone is just in this for themselves is when they label you and try to put you into a box. A good mentor knows that everyone is unique and that labeling people puts them into boxes where things are either black or white (there’s no room for grey). If instead, your mentor tries to pigeonhole you into a stereotype or calls you out for being different, it could mean that they’re just not very accepting of anything outside of the norm.

7. How Do They Treat Other People?

A truly great mentor should be kind to others and treat everyone with respect whether they’re a CEO or a janitor. If instead, your mentor treats some people better than others, especially if said people have more money or power than them, it could mean that their kindness is only temporary and conditional on who they’re interacting with (which isn’t right).

8 Are They Overly Critical?

No one likes to be told that they’re wrong and when someone constantly tells us we are, it makes it hard to trust what they say about anything says Paul Haarman. A good mentor should never be judgmental or hypercritical (especially for no reason), because if they’re mean-spirited, it could mean that they’re just vindictive and waiting to unleash their wrath on you when you least expect it.


Finding a mentor can be difficult and it’s even harder to find the right one. While we’re not saying that you won’t be able to find a mentor that ticks all of these boxes, it means that for now, you should probably keep looking and never settle until you know they’re the real deal.


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