Careers

How to answer the interview question, ‘Who’s your mentor?'

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During an interview, hiring managers want to learn about who you are as a person beyond what is on your resume. That's why some interviewers ask questions like, "Who's your mentor?"

According to Glassdoor, this is one of the 50 Most Common Interview Questions. The site spoke with career experts to figure out the best way to attack this personal question.

Zachary Painter of ResumeGenius.com says that answering this question is not about your ability to memorize a bunch of facts about the perfect person, but rather about how you build relationships.

"First of all, this could be anyone: Your mother, a close friend, a past boss or perhaps a professor," he says.

Nicole Wood, CEO of Ama La Vida agrees with Painter. "The 'who' is not as important as the 'what,' the 'how' and the 'why,'" she says. "Describing who your mentor is and what you get out of that relationship shows firstly that you proactively seek out learning opportunities."

"It is also a good idea to provide an example of how you have learned an important lesson from your mentor in the past," says Wood.

For instance, you could say, "My Dad has always been one of my biggest mentors. He instilled in me the value of hard work." Alternatively, you could say, "One of my biggest mentors is my college economics professor. We co-wrote and published a research paper together and to this day, she and I will talk about monetary policy. She has taught me about the importance of collaboration and lifelong learning."

No matter who your mentor is, be sure to share specifically what you admire about them, because your answer is a reflection of your principles. Wood explains that this question "tells your interviewer what you value."

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