Personality predictors of participation as a mentor

Brian P. Niehoff (Department of Management, Kansas State University, College of Business Administration, Manhattan, Kansas, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Publication date: 1 June 2006



The purpose of this paper is to focus on the personality characteristics of mentors.


The five factor model of personality was used to examine relationships between personality and participation as a mentor. A sample of 194 practicing veterinarians were surveyed on the five factor model of personality and a scale assessing their participation as a mentor across junior professionals, interns and high school students.


Results indicated that extroversion, conscientiousness, and openness to experience were positively correlated with participation as a mentor. Personality traits also explained significant variance in participation as a mentor after controlling for prior experience with a mentor. These results suggest that participation as a mentor could be influenced to some degree by personality. Mentoring involves active engagement in an environment requiring social, task, and idea‐related capabilities, thus individuals who are extroverted, conscientious, and open to experience would likely feel more comfortable.

Research implications/limitations

The study was only a survey study with data gathered from a single source, so any causal inferences are limited.

Practical implications

If individuals volunteer for mentoring based primarily on personality tendencies, then it is possible that many talented employees would not be attracted to a mentoring situation due to their personalities. In order to have the best mentors, organizations might have to develop mechanisms to attract, select, motivate, and train talented employees to volunteer for and remain in such service.


Relatively little research has focused on the personality characteristics of mentors.



Niehoff, B. (2006), "Personality predictors of participation as a mentor", Career Development International, Vol. 11 No. 4, pp. 321-333.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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