What Questions Do I Ask?

Effective questioning requires the ability to listen. Using questions to assist with listening and understanding is an essential skill for the mentor and the mentee.

For example, the mentor uses questions to gauge and clarify what support the mentee needs at any stage in the mentoring meetings. The mentee will have questions to ask of the mentor too and needs to think of the purpose of their questions – what are they wanting to find out or have clarified? – as well as being clear in what they are asking.

I designed the following diagram which illustrates three key elements of a decision-making model for determining effective questioning.


This model leads on to my questioning models which aim to help mentors and mentees (you) build and use a bank of questions that help guide the mentoring meetings and the conversations that occur within these: The D.E.V.A.™ model and the 3Es Questioning Continuum™.

To get full details of both models, have a look at pages 10-13 in the Mentor Scenarios Handbook and pages 10-15 in the Mentee Scenarios Handbook.

Here is an initial description of the D.E.V.A.™ model from the Mentor’s Handbook. There is a variation of this model in the Mentees’ Handbook:

D.E.V.A.™ – Describe, Evaluate, Value, Action

Describe questions prompt the mentee to describe their current situation – roles, responsibilities, successes, issues, professional and personal development needs, etc. The mentor encourages and helps the mentee identify what they want to use the mentoring support for.

Evaluate questions encourage the mentee to reflect on their current situation, skills and capabilities and evaluate how well they are managing, what internal or external factors are influencing them and identify their strengths and areas for development.

Value questions prompt the mentee to spend some time focusing on the things they value about themselves and the value they place on certain aspects of their personal and professional lives. The mentor encourages the mentee to explore how the things of value could influence the success and outcomes of the mentoring support they receive.

Action questions come at the stage when the mentee determines the actions they will take and activities they will engage in that will contribute to the achievement of their goal/s. This stage also involves the mentee actively engaging in the identified activities, with the mentor supporting them throughout this process via the mentoring partnership meetings.