The appointment of trustworthy individuals with a positive temperament as mentors is crucial.
Mentors are adults who genuinely like, and are sincerely interested in, young people.
Mentors are responsible, empathetic, confident and thoughtful. They commit to make a meaningful contribution to the life of a young person over an agreed period of time and must be prepared to learn with and from them.
Mentors come from all walks of life and have different levels of formal education and life experiences. Collectively, they offer a wide range of interests and expertise.
Mentor screening criteria
The screening process establishes whether the applicant meets basic program standards.
To be accepted as an applicant for a mentorship, the applicant must:
- be aged 18 years or more
- complete a written application, or apply using another format (e.g. phone call, video clip), as determined by the LDAT
- provide proof of identity (e.g. passport)
- provide proof of residence (e.g. driver’s licence)
- agree to a Working With Children Check and National Police Check
- nominate three personal referees who have known the applicant for at least one year
- have a viable means of transport - public transport or car, unless involved in e-mentoring. If required, provide a current driver’s licence
- have a reliable electronic communication method for e-mentoring (eg. laptop, smartphone)
- commit to full participation in the mentoring program, including regular meetings with a mentee (weekly/fortnightly) and adherence to all program policies including the Code of Conduct
- be committed to the Mentoring Program and the Vision, Mission and Values Statement.
Inability to meet any of the screening criteria will void an individual’s application.
The selection process takes place after the applicant has successfully navigated the screening process.
The selection process investigates whether the applicant has the necessary personal attributes required to be a mentor to young people.
The selection process should include:
- at least one face-to-face interview using the interview template
- checking of at least two character references submitted by the applicant using the Reference Check Template
- a Working with Children Check
- a Police Record Check.
Interviewing mentor applicants
Checklist for interviewing potential mentors:
- Conduct at least one face-to-face interview, if possible. Video technology may be needed if geographic location or other factors prevent the interview from occurring in person.
- Allocate approximately 45-60 minutes for the interview to allow enough time for a meaningful conversation, the exchange of information and the opportunity for questions to be answered.
- Consider involving more than one person on the interview panel, including at least one trained staff member or volunteer. Consider involving a young person, parent/guardian, former mentor, or local organisation/partner to invite different perspectives in the decision-making process.
- Record the interview using the interview template. It is important that all interview panel members use the same template for consistent data collection and to capture relevant notes including a recommendation regarding the outcome of the application and the grounds on which it is made.
- After the interview, debrief with panel members to reach consensus on the applicant’s suitability for the mentoring program based on the interview.
- Ensure the interview record keeping aligns with the Privacy and Confidentiality Policy and Procedure.
Interview questions could include:
- Why do you want to become a mentor?
- Previous volunteering background? Was it with young people?
- What are your greatest strengths and attributes that will help you succeed as a mentor?
- What do you believe you can offer a young person?
- Are you able to commit to meeting your mentee regularly for the agreed length of your mentor/mentee match?
- Are you willing to commit to the program requirements including regular meetings with a mentee and ongoing training and feedback sessions?
- Do you have any questions?19
Mentor interview template
Reference checking potential mentors
Reference checks can help you verify the claims made by applicants in their interview and help you make more informed recruitment decisions.
LDATs can follow these steps to check an applicant’s references when recruiting mentors. Reference checking must align with the privacy, confidentiality policy and procedure.
A sample reference check template is provided for LDATs to adapt and use.
Step 1: Obtain referee details from applicants
At the application stage, applicants are asked to nominate three personal referees (including contact details) and to provide their permission for the referees to be contacted. Referees are people who are able to provide details about the person’s character or suitability for the mentor role. Referees must have known the applicant for at least one year and not be members of the same family or related to the applicant.
Step 2: Decide what you want to ask the referees
Before you contact the referee, consider what factors need to be checked. Are there any particular aspects of the application or interview that you want to verify? Do you have any concerns about the applicant’s suitability that the referee may be able to provide clarification on? Use the Sample Reference Check template to guide the conversation and record your notes.
Step 3: Contact the referees
At least two character references need to be checked. Reference checks should be conducted over the telephone or video call and by a trained staff member or volunteer.
Think about the best time to contact the referees. For some referees you may need to consider arranging a specific time to talk when they won’t be busy and will have time to think about their answers.
Step 4: Choose the successful applicants
Use the information collected during the reference check and the other parts of the screening and selection process to choose the most suitable mentors for the program.
Mentors are accepted into the program only after passing through the selection process.
Finalising the mentor application
When finalising the outcome of the mentor application, consider suitability criteria including some or all of the following:
- character references
- personality profile
- skills identification
- career/personal interests
- motivation for volunteering.19
Consider criteria for screening out unsuitable mentor applicants, including:
- a relevant criminal record, history of child abuse, etc.
- questionable motives including to increase status, gain reward, resolve own problems
- lack of appropriate skills or knowledge
- lack of availability.19
Note: Program management may deem that a criminal record would not necessarily prevent a potential mentor from participating, depending on the nature of the offence, the number of offences, the date and the demeanour of the offender since the offence occurred.
Use the finalising the mentor application - checklist to guide the final decision and ensure all inputs from the screening and selection process have been considered. The decision, and the grounds on which it is made, should be clearly documented and communicated appropriately to all applicants. Both successful and unsuccessful applicants must be informed of the outcome of their application.
Finalising the mentor application checklist
Code of Conduct
The Youth Affairs Council of Victoria’s Mentoring Program Code of Conduct27 sets out general principles for the conduct expected of mentors.
A mentor must:
- be a positive role model to a young person
- be honest, reliable, punctual and true to their word
- be positive in attitude, expression and dealings with young people
- know, understand and protect the rights of young people
- take notice of a young person’s reactions to them and adapt their approach if necessary
- consider their own and the young person’s safety and security
- immediately advise program staff of any concerns or crisis regarding the young person
- respect the privacy of other mentors and young people, and the confidentiality of information acquired during mentoring activities
- respect the rights and responsibilities of the young person’s family or carers, their teachers, school and any professional person working with them
- encourage the young person without a hint of coercion
- continue to build their mentoring skills by attending relevant training and support sessions
- abide by the law, and comply with any and all applicable policies and procedures of the Mentoring Program.
A mentor must not:
- impose their opinions on a young person
- give or loan money to a young person
- engage in intrusive conversations with a young person’s family or carers, their teachers, school or any professional person working with them
- engage in mentoring or program activities while affected by drugs or alcohol, or smoke around young people
- wear inappropriate clothes while engaged in mentoring activities, including clothes displaying slogans or images of sex, violence, drugs, discrimination or advertising alcohol
- transport a person who is not a Mentor Program participant in any vehicle, for any reason (e.g. a young person’s friend or family)
- take a young person on a high-risk activity, or engage in a high-risk activity with a young person
- attempt to deal personally with a crisis involving the young person
- enter into a sexual or other inappropriate relationship with a young person or their family/guardian or friends
- administer any form of punishment (e.g. confiscating personal items, physical or corporal punishment or verbal reprimand) on a young person.