A Best Practice Mentor Selection Process & Criteria

Using an Inclusive Mentor Selection Process With Staged Criteria and Safety Checks

©2003, by Barry Sweeny

The use of an “inclusive” approach (best practice) to selection and matching of mentors and proteges has been advocated elsewhere on this site.

That same page suggested the need to integrate selection and matching as one process, and not just at one “do or die” point in the process. It also suggested the use of “Staged Criteria and Safety Checks” to make such the inclusive process work effectively.

The idea is that when the process s more “open” and less of an “exclusive” group, people are more supportive of mentoring, but then there is then a need for “safety checks” to maintain mentor quality along the way. Here is an example of such inclusive and staged criteria and steps.

Selection Process Steps Staged Criteria Safe Guards
1. Application to be a mentor Application Criteria:
• Attended a Mentor Program Information Meeting out of interest in learning about what mentoring is all about & the expectations.• Submitted complete application

• Supervisor’s signature on application

Threshold Criteria:
• 5 years experience in similar job & at that location

• Rated “Excellent” on most own most recent evaluation

If met, attend mentor training. . .


• Some mentor candidates will “self-select” out when they learn what is expected and are counseled to opt out by the meeting leader.• Supervisor may privately share concerns about the candidate as a mentor with the Mentor Program Coordinator.

• Criteria & process help to screen candidates to ensure that those who continue in the process are likely to succeed.

2. Attend the initial mentor training Training Completion Criteria: Active participation in mentor training

• Self-assesses against ideal mentor criteria & sets goals for growth toward becoming an effective mentor.

• Agreement between candidate and trainer that the candidate is likely to succeed as a mentor.

If met, becomes a Mentor and enters “pool


• Mentor Program Coordinator or trainer observes candidate during training & can “counsel” out disengaged candidates.
3. Enter the mentor “pool” & be called “Mentor Mentor Designation Criteria:• Actively participates in quarterly mentor support meetings

• Accepts support and accountability for on-going growth as a mentor in relationship with the Mentor of Mentors

• Continues growing as a mentor

• Allows on-going monitoring of the mentor as a continual learner, and in interaction with peers by the Mentor Program Leader• Allows the mentor to continue to learn and grow as a mentor through interaction with peer experienced mentors and with the Mentor of Mentors (Mentor Program Leader)
4. Be matched with a protege Matching Criteria:• Is more experienced than the protege in the same assignment, as in “is at least 1 job level above the protege”.

• Mentor Program Leader and protege’s supervisor see the mentor’s strengths as matching protege’s needs for growth

• Is in close proximity to protege for access and so both formal and informal mentoring can occur.

• Is available and willing to serve as a mentor right now.

If met, is assigned as a Mentor to a Protege


• Matching criteria & process help to screen candidates.• The best match may never be found for any specific poor mentor who has slipped past the other safeguards.

• Emphasis on “mentor’s strengths” matching protege’s needs increases likelihood of an effective match.

• Mentor Program Leader’s on-going interaction with mentor and protege allows monitoring success of the match and prompting either toward best practice.

5. Remain matched with the protege Continuing Match Criteria:• Information available from first month’s experience in mentoring & observations by the Mentor Program Leader confirm the appropriateness of the match.

If met, remains assigned as a Mentor


• Emphasis on “mentor’s strengths” maintains dignity of mentor if a mismatch occurs.• Automatic Mentor-Protege mismatch check is acceptable to mentor & protege since it is done with all pairs.

• Automatic Mentor-Protege mismatch check allows for mentor reassignment if conflict resolution is unsuccessful.

6. Work a 2nd year with the same protege Year 2 Match Criteria:• Information available from first few month’s experience in mentoring & observations by the Mentor Program Leader and protege’s supervisor confirm the appropriateness of continuing the match.

If met, remains assigned as a Mentor


• Is essentially another automatic Mentor-Protege mismatch check.• Ensures that the protege has not outgrown the strengths of the assigned mentor.