11 characteristics of a quality mentor

You’ve been working at your company for a while now and you are approached with a new opportunity: coworker mentorship.

When you start a new job, you often have a transition period to learn how to be the most successful in your new role. To help make the transition easier, companies sometimes pair a new employee with a mentor.

Becoming a mentor to new employees or other coworkers can be an amazing opportunity. You would be able to pass on tips and tricks you’ve learned about doing your job effectively. You would help them to find resources more easily, like where the best coffee near work is located.

Mentorship is also a great experience to put on your resume. It shows that you have the experience and maturity to help other employees become better in their own careers. You can also use it as an experience to improve yourself as an employee.

Here are some characteristics to keep in mind when looking for a quality mentor: 

  • Don’t do it just for the resume. Be a mentor because you really want to be part of the mentor-mentee relationship.
  • Be able to offer feedback and be trusted as a fellow employee.
  • Don’t see it as a one-way relationship. You will help the mentee become a better employee as they will help you become a better one as well.
  • Make sure you like being sociable with another person. Becoming a mentor is often a face-to-face opportunity that requires excellent communication skills.


Mentorship at a company, at its core, is about building a relationship. In this relationship, two people will learn new things from one another while one person helps lead the other to become better at a job or task. People who are mentors are invested in making a good relationship with their mentee. When you think of mentoring someone, you might envision taking them out for lunch and discussing work over a nice cold beer. But being a good mentor is often about being more hands-on than that.

Sometimes being a mentor will be a formal role and sometimes being a mentor will an informal one. If you are part of a formal mentor program at the company, you likely will have to assess the new employee as they start working at the company. Assessing a new employee is often made to help determine ways to help the employee work their best.

Mentors also help by providing information or resources they need to do the best at their job. For example, if the new employee is having trouble adjusting to their new role or has questions on how best to accomplish certain tasks specific to the company, a mentor can be a highly valuable asset to help find resources faster.

Also, when you start a new job, you aren’t just entering a new job position, but a new work culture and environment. A mentor will help a new employee navigate this environment and find their niche within the company culture. If you are interviewing to become a mentor or are looking to see if you would be a good fit on your own, there are a few characteristics that many good mentors share. Keep reading for a detailed look at which characteristics make a good mentor and which do not.


Be a positive role model and good at your job. You don’t have to be a work rock star to be a good mentor, but you should probably be invested in your job and be respected by your colleagues.

Enthusiasm to be a mentor and ready to invest time and energy into the relationship.When someone signs up as a mentee or is told they will have a mentor at their new job, they often are looking forward to meeting with someone who can truly show them the ropes.

Excellent communication skills. A mentor should be able to answer their basic questions and when they don’t know the answer, know who to ask to figure it out. Doing these things for the mentee shouldn’t be an annoying work-diversion, but something the mentor is excited about.


There are many characteristics of a good mentor other than the key characteristics listed above, so don’t worry if you are reading this and thinking you aren’t hitting the mark exactly on the key characteristics listed above.

As long as you have a willingness and enthusiasm to be a mentor and possess some of these qualities, you will probably be off to a good start.

Here are some other positive qualities that make up a good mentor:

  • Honesty & Integrity
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Ability to offer feedback and constructive criticism
  • Great networking skills

Being a good mentor is just as much about building a good relationship with their mentee as it is helping the mentee build professional relationships with others. A good mentor will have well-established professional networks to help their mentee expand their own networks.

Mentorship is often like being a coach: Mentors help others improve my offering feedback, constructive criticism, and sometimes even evaluations. To do this effectively, they have to be able to be trusted and navigate conflicts.

All of these skills help make a good mentor– but what makes a bad mentor?


Overalls, what makes a mentor good is being well-liked by the mentee and showing up for the role. Therefore, a bad mentor is just the opposite.

Here are some characteristics of a bad mentor that anyone hoping to become a mentor should avoid:

  • Speaking negatively about others in the company
  • Not offering feedback when needed
  • Feeling that they are always at their peak performance
  • Not being available for the mentee.

Long story short, being a bad mentor is essentially being a ghost mentor. If you are looking to become a mentor but don’t want to take the time out to foster that mentor-mentee relationship, don’t do it.

Having an excellent job title or being a distinguished worker won’t automatically make someone a good mentor. A mentor who is less prestigious will be a better mentor than someone else if the other person doesn’t but in any effort.

So if you are uncomfortable giving feedback, have nothing good to say about others in the company, and are always absent from the relationship, you are probably best to avoid entering a mentorship program.


Being a mentor can be a lot of work. But more work doesn’t mean the opportunity isn’t worth it. Mentors are respected leaders in companies who have a genuine interest in helping new recruits or struggling workers become the best employees they can.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor, you should try it. A huge part about being a mentor is being invested in the process and if you are reading this, you probably are already somewhat invested.

Just keep in mind what characteristics to avoid and work on improving the characteristics to have and you’ll be on your way to becoming a great mentor.

This article first appeared on Zippia.