"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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