Questions to ask your UX mentor

Ah, you’re about to have your first mentor meeting. That’s exciting! But I can imagine that it is a little bit frightening as well. I mean, what questions do you ask your UX mentor? How do you present yourself? These and more are important things to consider. Let’s focus on the questions to ask your UX mentor first.

Questions to ask your UX mentor

Asking the right questions is important. However, just giving you a list of questions isn’t the best way to do things. So let’s start with some tips to help you create a mentoring environment where you can get the answers that help you progress.

After that, I’ll share some of the questions I’ve gotten as a UX mentor. Let’s go.

Table of Contents

Tips

Before we take a look at some of the questions you could ask your mentor, I’d like to take the time to give you some tips.

After doing tens, or even hundreds, of UX mentor meetings, these are the things I would recommend to anyone who’s about to book a call with a mentor. I still apply these tips even as a UX mentor with every session I do.

Preparation

In most cases, you pay a mentor by the hour. Therefore, to prepare well is to get the most out of your meeting.

As a mentor, I need some time to think about complex questions. It is especially the case for questions about career choices and red flags in the workspace.

So prepare yourself well. I always ask about topics and questions before our meeting. That gives me time to prepare as well. However, if your mentor doesn’t do that, you can always submit your list of questions yourself.

Small talk

UX mentor meetings can be stressful. It is even more so when they are either one-on-one or an introduction call where you meet someone for the first time. By the way, this is the case for both the mentor and the mentee. Starting a series of sessions with a new mentee always brings a special kind of excitement to me.

It is very helpful to spend a few minutes on small talk. That way, you break the ice and help things get started. Knowing each other well adds to your success as a designer and a mentee. Why? Well, life happens. You’re more than just your job. It helps me understand and help you better.

Specific vs broad mentor meetings

And last but not least, a tip on specific versus broad meetings. Most would suggest mentor meetings to be as specific as possible. While this is solid advice, I would argue to allow more generic meetings as well. The important thing is to consider which of the two you need at the specific moment of your design career.

Let me explain the difference. Let’s say you have a clear goal in mind. Finding a job in UX, for example. That’s an excellent topic for a focused and specific meeting. Prepare details like the type of job you want and which location you want to work to make your goal as specific as possible. It will help your mentor help you better.

The opposite is a very broad meeting. Such a meeting is particularly suitable for you if you feel stuck in your career. Your mentor will ask you multiple questions to narrow down your issues.

Questions and topics to ask your UX mentor

My main concern with lists like these is that they are not specific to your situation. Sure, I could easily add tens of questions to ask your UX mentor, but how would I know your goals and needs without talking to you?

Instead, I will give you a list of questions to ask your UX mentor based on the questions I’ve received while mentoring designers. I’ve sorted them based on topic to make it easier to scan and have your pick.

Divider 1

The job interview

First, the job interview. It is one of the main topics you can ask your mentor about. Over half of my sessions cover the topic of the job interview. Here’s a list of questions you could ask your mentor.

  • What are some red flags to look for during my job interview?
  • What should I say when the interviewer asks me to share my current salary?
  • How do I ace my interview?
  • What are questions I can ask during a job interview?
  • How do I present myself and my work?
Divider 2

Your portfolio

Next, one of the main categories is questions on how to create your UX portfolio. Your portfolio is essential in getting a job in the world of design. Because of it, asking your UX mentor questions about this topic makes a lot of sense. I get the following questions a lot from my mentees.

  • How do I create a UX portfolio without experience?
  • How long should my case study be?
  • How do I present my portfolio?
  • How many projects should be in my portfolio?
Divider 3

Handling the job of UX

Let’s say you’ve landed your job in UX. Congratulations! But how do you manage those first few weeks or months at the job? I mean, there’s so much happening. Most of my mentees have asked me about it. The following list contains some of the common questions asked.

  • How can I handle difficult stakeholders?
  • How to sell UX?
  • What are the first things to do at my new job?
  • How do I present myself at work?

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Profile picture of author Nick Groeneveld, a senior UX designer and mentor for The Designer's Toolbox

About the author

Hi! I'm Nick Groeneveld, a senior designer from the Netherlands with experience in UX, visual design, and research. I have completed a wide range of projects in finance, tech, and the public sector.

Take a look at my LinkedIn and Medium for more.