This article answers commonly asked questions that arise during the course of the mentor screening interview. While there is a detailed script for the interview, applicants often have questions about the program, the matching process, logistics, and concerns they may have. Below are some of the most commonly asked questions.
- If I have to miss an in-person event, can I make it up with an out of program meeting?
It’s important to note that we need mentors to attend the events at the school at the same time as the other mentors to build the iMentor community (unless there’s an extenuating circumstance). And while Out of Program/Pair Excursions are an option and even a very powerful relationship building tool, they are an exception not the rule. We don’t want mentors to think they can rely on Pair Expeditions for every monthly meeting, especially not in the beginning of the relationship. Reiterate the importance of these program meetings, while also reassuring the applicant that as long as they contact their Program Manager about the occasional missed event, something can be worked out.
- Are program events on the same weekday?
It depends on the school. Many schools have one weekday per month that the events consistently fall on. Others schools may have two weekdays per month, especially larger schools (they’ll split the largest cohorts over 2 weeknights). The pairs can coordinate each month to select the night that works best for their schedules. Regardless, wherever possible, a calendar of events will be provided to the mentor and mentee at the beginning of the school year and there is plenty of advance notice prior to each event.
- Do I still have to message my mentee during the week of the program events?
The student will write you from class each week, meaning that you will still get a message to respond to during an in-school program week. That week's topic is a great springboard for conversation when you meet in person! You are both more than welcome to supplement your relationship with additional online communications as well.
- What's iMentor's picture of a successful mentor/mentee pair?
Every mentor/mentee pair is different and bring individual challenges, goals, and definitions of success. A pair that meets consistently and develops a trusting, beneficial relationship is a success in and of itself. If you ever have any concerns about your relationship, feel free to reach out to your Program Manager. They will help you stay on track. Feel free to look through our "Success Stories" page on the iMentor website for some inspiring pairs.
- What do you look for in a mentor?
In an effort to maintain the safety and integrity of our screening process, we are unable to go into too much detail. In general, the main thing that we ask of mentors is to remain consistent in the weekly writing and monthly meetings. A teenager will not always be reliable and it’s up to our mentors to be the consistent adults in the relationship and model the behavior they’d like to see in their mentee.
- Can I do a longer/shorter match?
All volunteers must complete a 2-year high school match. They will then have the opportunity to opt-in to our Post-Secondary Program (PSP) which typically last another 2 years but can be extended. Remind mentors we are happy to consider a one year match, but they will likely be matched with a previously matched mentee (a 12th grader) whose former mentor left the program. It might also limit the mentor’s ability to participate in the program since shorter matches are fewer. Please note: If the mentor will be in the area for 2 years, they may eligible for a full 4-year match. The PSP (college) program is remote.
- Why is your process so long?
The screening process is vital to ensuring that the mentor applicants we pair with minor students will be safe and effective. The safety and success of the mentees is our primary concern. That requires diligent vetting that sometimes takes a few weeks. While our goal is to have mentors ready to be matched in less than 30 days, circumstances outside of iMentor's control, such as pending background checks or non-responsive references, can also delay the process. We will do our part to expedite all steps of the screening process that are under our direct control.
- When will I hear back?
Often, that will depend on when we receive background check results (or in Bay, routine clearance of TB/volunteer forms) and iMentor has no control over those processes. Once we’ve heard from the background check vendor (or in Bay, the school district), we will conduct a final review of your materials per our protocol. We will then reach out to you via email as soon as we have reached a decision about your application.
- Will you let me know who my mentee is?
If accepted into the program, you will learn who your mentee is during our matching season, which starts around October. This process begins after the start of the school year and the Screening Team does not participate in matching pairs. We do have a very thorough matching process that connects a mentor and mentee based on shared interests and logistical preferences.
- Asking “is that the right answer”
Assure the applicant that screeners want to hear their honest and instinctive answers. For some questions, you can let them know that there are "no right answers" (what they were like as a teenager, personal struggles, college experiences etc). For other questions, while screeners can accept a variety of responses, there are general themes to responses that we look for (but don’t elaborate on those themes). It is important to not affirm their answers, because if the applicant is rejected, they might point back towards validation during the interview as proof they shouldn't be rejected.
- Do I meet my mentee before the first event?
There will be online communication between you and your mentee before the first event.
- Can I be paired with a high achieving student?
The students participating in the program range in academic performance, so you may be paired with a student at any place on the spectrum. We support a wide range of students, and it is often the struggling students that most need the help of a mentor. We will take your preferences and experience into consideration, but the preferences and the needs of the mentees will be prioritized.
- Can I be matched at XXX school?
We will take your preferences and experience into consideration, but the preferences and the needs of the mentees will be prioritized, so I cannot make any guarantees. [make a note of the request in the Match Logistics section of match notes]
- What goes on in the summer?
There is no formal iMentor programming throughout the summer, but you and your mentee are more than welcome (and encouraged!) to stay in touch. As a member of the iMentor community, you will receive invites to a variety of events such as happy hours, wine tastings, panels, and athletic events during the summer. Stay tuned, we'll let you know when they are! We're always actively recruiting new mentors, so please spread the word through your networks. You are also more than welcome to raise funds for iMentor through the Champions Circle.