Questions to ask when hiring a Coach or Mentor
Coaching and Mentoring has its own unique set of skills. Without the formal regulation of a Regulator such as the International Regulator of Coaching and Mentoring CIC (IRCM), there are many individuals and organisations representing themselves as coaches or mentors; where some of these are individuals without any formal coach-specific or mentor‐specific training. In some cases, they will be transferring their skills from other professions into their Coaching or Mentoring profession. Coaches and Mentors often have to ‘unlearn’ old skills from their previous professions before they can competently learn the skills required to be an effective coach or mentor.
Therefore, selecting to work with a coach or mentor who has no formal coach or mentor training, may result in an inadequate or ineffective coaching or mentoring experience for you.
Whether you are selecting a coach or mentor to work with you or to work with individuals within your organisation, it is important that you select the right Coach or Mentor. The end result will depend on it.
We would recommend interviewing more than one Coach or Mentor, and below is a range of questions that you may select to ask during the interview:
1. How clear are you about the differences between Coaching, Mentoring, Training and other disciplines?
It is important to understand what you are looking for.
The Industry Definitions will provide further details or you could read the IRCM’s Report – the differences between Coaching and Mentoring.
Once you are clear about the differences, take your time deciding what type of person can help you.
Is it a Coach?
Is it a Mentor?
Is it someone who has training and experience in both?
If it is important then you are looking for a Mentor.
This is important when selecting a Mentor.
One of the pre‐requisites of a top-quality Mentor is that they have training, knowledge, and experience in your scenario.
There are many individuals and organisations representing themselves as coaches or mentors and some of these are individuals have no formal coach‐specific or mentor‐specific training.
By selecting to work with someone who has no formal training, you may not get the results you expect from this relationship.
Has the Coach or Mentor provided confirmation that they are currently Registered with the IRCM?
Has the Coach or Mentor provided independent verification of their coach or mentor training, knowledge, and experience through an independent verification from an internationally recognised IRCM CIC Registered or Accredited Professional Body?
What information have you found about the Coach or Mentor on the IRCM’s Coaches and/or Mentors Directory?
Transparency is demonstrated by providing as much information in the public domain as possible.
9. Has the Coach or Mentor been recommended to you from someone or an organisation that has been successful when working with them?
Recommendations are the best form of reference that you can get for a Coach or Mentor.
Recommendations come from people you know, who will provide you with their experience as it actually happened.
10. What references, testimonials, or independent feedback can you gain from and about the Coach or Mentor?
References and Testimonials are provided by satisfied clients to the coach or mentor.
At a minimum, they should explain the process and the satisfaction experienced by the client, as well as their name and contact details.
Independent feedback from one or more of the Coach or Mentors clients will give you a range of feedback.
Some of the feedback may not appear to be positive, but where this is the case; always ask whether the outcome was successful.
What you are looking for in this feedback is the support provided by the Coach or Mentor and the success of the client.
11. Has the Coach or Mentor satisfactorily provided details of their background, training and experience?
When you researched the Coach or Mentor were you able to easily and simply find out about their background, their coach or mentor specific training, and their experience?
If not, what did the Coach or Mentor provide you with when you asked the question.
If this information is not in the public domain, how can you verify it?
Coaches and Mentors often describe themselves as a specific type of Coach or Mentor.
If how they describe themselves resonates with you, then maybe this is the type of coaching or mentoring that you are looking for.
Face‐2‐Face * Telephone * Internet * Skype * WhatsApp * Zoom * Email * Individual * Group * Team
Coaching or Mentoring will take time and incur a cost; so before you search for a Coach or Mentor, it is important that you are clear about what you expect from this relationship.
It may also provide you with an insight into what you expect from this relationship when you interview a number of coaches or mentors.
Don’t worry about changing your expectations or requirements as you go through this process.
It is important to get the Coach or Mentor you are interviewing to repeat back to you what you are looking for, what your expectations are, and what the boundaries in this relationship will be.
It’s often easy to look for someone else to help with resolving a problem, achieving a goal, or making a change; but in this relationship the Coach or Mentor will be expecting you to fully participate; so now is the time to find out what they expect from you.
17. If you are looking for a Coach or Mentor for individuals in your organisation, how well does the Coach or Mentor understand organisational structures?
Coaching or Mentoring individuals within an organisation often brings with it an underlying challenge of confidentiality.
The organisation paying for the coaching or mentoring requires a level of feedback to ensure that the individual is benefiting, while the individual wants to be able to share their dreams, aspirations, fears, concerns, with someone who will retain their confidentiality.
Therefore, interviewing a Coach or Mentor who has experience of working within an organisational structure and who can satisfy both the coaching or mentoring relationship with the individual while providing the right level of feedback to the organisation will support the organisation's requirements for their staff development.
18. If you are looking for a Coach or Mentor for individuals in your organisation, how does the Coach or Mentor work with different personalities?
The decision whether you employ one or more than one Coaches or Mentors will come down to how well you relate to each Coach or Mentor that you interview.
Each person within your organisation has their own personality and it’s important that the Coach or Mentor you employ will be able to relate to and work with the individuals in your organisation.
Working with different people in one organisation doesn’t always mean that you are working with people of the same culture.
In today’s business world it is important that where you are looking to hire Coaches and Mentors to work within your organisation that they fully understand how to work with individuals of different cultures.
Beyond the credibility, competence, qualifications, independent verification, skills, knowledge, and experience of each Coach and/or Mentor; it is important to feel that you have a connection with the Coach or Mentor.
There are thousands of training organisations all providing Coach or Mentor training; some of which is only ½ a day whereas others are hundreds of hours.
It is difficult to understand what training an individual has received if you are not aware of the exact training details of that training.
Therefore, one way of understanding the training and experience that a Coach or Mentor has is to understand their level of accreditation or credential issued through a Professional Body that is Registered with or Accredited by the IRCM.
There are a number of Professional/Trade Bodies that provide a standard but unless they are a Professional Body that is Registered with or Accredited by the IRCM, the IRCM cannot verify their credibility.
Professional Indemnity Insurance is not a requirement in every country, but where a Coach or Mentor does have Professional Indemnity Insurance they are demonstrating their commitment to running a professional business.
There are no fixed guidelines about how long a coaching or mentoring relationship will take or should take.
Some say that the coaching relationship will take less time than the mentoring relationship; while others quote this round the other way.
What is important here is that you understand how long your relationship with the Coach or Mentor will take; which may be anything from a set number of sessions to a long term relationship spanning years.
It is important that the Coach or Mentor provides you with their Terms of Business.
This should cover a clear definition of the service they offer, costs (exclusive/inclusive of sales tax/VAT), payment terms, timelines or timeline guidelines, confidentiality, complaint procedures, term of the service, and which law governs their terms of business.
25. What procedures does the Coach or Mentor have in place to formalise your coaching or mentoring relationship?
It is important that the Coach or Mentor formalises your relationship within their Terms of Business.
There are a number of ways in which this can be done, from an email confirmation from them to you, and your acceptance of this; to a formally signed agreement.
It is argued that a financial return on investment is an unreliable and insufficient measure of coaching or mentoring outcomes.
An over‐emphasis on the financial returns can restrict the client, and where applicable, the organisation from benefiting if they are unaware of the full range of positive outcomes possible through using the services of a Coach or Mentor.
Whichever Coach or Mentor you select to work with it is important that you understand the relationship you are entering, so that you benefit from the relationship and achieve your expected outcome.
Currently, all information provided by and correspondence with the IRCM is in English.