When a hiring manager asks who has made a difference in your career, they want to find out what motivates you. Understanding what motivates you will give them a bit of insight into what you find important. Having a mentor also shows that you can work well with others. It also shows humility because you can admit that you didn’t get to where you are on your own. When an interviewer asks this question they want to figure out how you will fit in at their company.
Points to Emphasize
There are certain points about your role model that will say a lot about you too.
- Talk about the qualities that led you to them as a leader.
- Describe what they helped you learn and how it made you a better professional.
- Give an idea of where you were before this person made a difference.
- Help the hiring manager understand what traits are important to you in a coworker.
Giving the interviewer an idea of who shaped you will show them the type of worker that you are.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
You need to steer this conversation, and all of the conversations in an interview to positive topics.
- Don’t mention anything that might be illegal or show bad character.
- Do not feel that your mentor can only be a leader. You can also have peers, family members and other coworkers that made a difference in your career.
- Try not to speak poorly of anyone.
- Do not say you don’t have a mentor. Some had to have made a difference at some point.
Don’t give an evasive answer to this question. Be straightforward and honest.
Here is what a great answer to a question about your mentor might look like:
The person who made the biggest difference in my career was my coworker Martin. He and I started at the same time. We were both so green and inexperienced. He helped to push me to better myself and showed me the importance of continued education even in the workplace. I was excited about this field before I started working, but once Martin and I worked together I realized that not only was excited, but I was passionate too. I wanted to give my best. If I hadn’t have started out with Martin, I don’t know where I would be now. He really helped me set goals and then go through and achieve them. We didn’t work together that long, but even in a short time he really made a difference.
Keep your answer positive and focused on one experience.