What the research says:
Relationships in which mentors think primarily of their mentee’s needs and interests are associated with higher levels of closeness. Mentors who take a more collaborative and encouraging approach to their relationship, particularly in the beginning stages of the relationship, are likely to have stronger and healthier relationships.
Interviewers are looking for responses that show that the applicant understands the differences between a mentoring relationship with a young person and a friendship with an adult. Mentors who do not expect to transform the youth’s life, who listen nonjudgmentally, and who respect the youth’s desire to have fun are more likely to establish a trusting relationship with a young person. Answers that reflect a “developmental” approach that is encouraging, collaborative and supportive, answers that illustrate that the applicant has an understanding of youth in or leaving care, such as “maybe my mentee doesn’t know all the options”, “maybe my mentee hasn’t been exposed to enough different things to know everything he likes or doesn’t like”, or “maybe my mentee isn’t sure if I’m interested in the same things” would all be appropriate thoughts.
include a lack of understanding of youth, a domineering or rigid approach to conflict resolution, a description of a mentor role inconsistent with a supportive approach such as too youth-led, too adult-led, too much of a playmate, too heavy handed and an unwillingness to impose and reinforce boundaries and reasonable structure.
Persistence and Sensitivity to Rejection
What the research says:
Many of the young people in and/or leaving care, or involved with child protection services, have experienced loss and disappointment in their primary relationships. This may result in some of the young people maintaining a distance, not communicating their feelings or testing, particularly in the early stages of the mentoring relationship. While this is a healthy coping mechanism, it can often prove challenging to mentors who may not receive immediate reinforcement or acknowledgement of their efforts.
Does the interviewer get the sense that the applicant is able to move forward despite challenges? Does the interviewer feel that the applicant has a realistic expectation of the potential mentee and the possible outcomes of their relationships? Is the applicant open to and thinking of the mentee’s life experiences and to considering the mentee’s point of view? Does the applicant demonstrate an ability to accept responsibility for when plans haven’t gone well?
include an unwillingness to “wait and see”, an inability to take the young person’s perspective, a lack of insight into how they may cope with rejection, a history of “giving up” and short term friendships.