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Neighthan White

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How Emotional Intelligence Changed Interviewing


What is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence is how a person uses their emotions in order to identify, understand, and manage emotional situations in a positive manner in order to communicate successfully and relate to others.

Not long ago businesses hired based on the answers in an interview as to where the candidate went to school, what skills the candidate had and if they were going to stay with a company for more than a couple years. Due to the fact that more and more students tend to cheat or even trick plagiarism tools in their thesis, the real “skills” of an employee can be overestimated. Now interviewing candidates has changed and it isn’t always the smartest or the most skilled candidate that gets the job; today it tends to be the one with the best emotional intelligence.

What gives someone a high emotional intelligence?

Someone who is aware of their own emotions and those around them, who can interact with others so that it brings others to them, and can understand the emotional signals of others so that they can commune successfully in order to form solid connections; has a high emotional intelligence.

The good thing is that like stress management, emotional awareness can be learned which can raise your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence and business

When it comes to business emotional intelligence is a great guide in making hires. The boss or manager who is doing the hiring needs to have a high emotional intelligence in order to hire people. They need to look for; people who cannot only do the job because of skills and education but those who have a high emotional intelligence as well. This results in a more productive workforce.

When it comes to interviewing applicants the interviewer needs to ask certain questions and gauge the applicants' answer and attitude; basically look at their emotional intelligence to see if they are going to be a good fit in workplace and position they are being hired for.

So what types of questions might an interviewer ask to gauge emotional intelligence? There are 4 basic types of question to ask when gauging emotional intelligence.

  1. Self-awareness – In order to gauge this you as the interviewer will need to ask the applicant questions such as; what are your weaknesses? Here you are looking for responses that show they understand their genuine weaknesses and not just “I’m not good at math” or “I’m too organized”. You are looking for something that says they understand their genuine weakness; an answer like “For one I am too organized it may actually border on obsessive compulsive”.
  2. Self-regulation –During the interview you should be able to gauge a person’s self-regulation by what they have to say about previous jobs, bosses, and co-workers. One question that can be asked is “why did you leave your last job?” and depending on their reply you can gauge their self-regulation. If they say my boss was an idiot and my coworkers were morons you should think twice before hiring this person. On the other hand, if they answer with it wasn’t a good fit for me or the business and I felt I could do a better job in a different area or department then you can see that they have some self-regulation.
  3. Motivation – You want employees who are self-motivated, this will free up the time of supervisors and bosses to concentrate on other areas that need to be taken care of instead of just managing workers. A question that may reveal how self-motivated the applicant is would be; what are looking for in the company if you are hired or where do you see yourself in 5 years? If you were to manage to get your work done early what would you do with your time? Answers such as I am looking to work for a company where I can advance, in 5 years I see myself having advanced to the next level or even 2 levels above the current position I am interviewing for, if I had my work finished early I would ask co-workers if I could be of assistance to them first and if not then I would make sure the area is clean and after that I would find the boss and ask what else needs to be done for this project.
  4. Empathy –this can be tough to ferret out in a first meeting but if you watch for the signals such as do they look you in the eyes during communication, do they smile, and do they ask questions about you? Questions you could ask to gauge their empathy level are; what would you do if a customer was yelling at a co-worker or how would you handle a customer who needs special assistance?
  5. People skills –these can be hard to determine during an interview but if you pay attention to social signals of the applicant such as do they look you in the eyes during communication, do they stand up when you do, or do they smile and what their body language is saying you should be able to gauge the skills they have socially when building relationships or communicating with others. You will at least get a general idea of how they interact with others.

Emotional intelligence and school

College can be a tough place, a heavy academic load, a job to help pay for books and tuition, as well as time to study can place a huge amount of stress on a student. How they handle that stress and perform is a great indicator of their emotional intelligence.

College is also a place where you can build your emotional intelligence and learn how to deal with situations and people. Let’s look at a couple of examples of how this can help build your emotional intelligence.

  • You discover your weaknesses and strengths. Here you could find out that you are not self-motivated which means you need to work on that. You could also find out that you are good at helping people with their problems because you are a great listener.
  • You learn how to interact with others in a way that brings them to you. This could be a mediator between your friends or classmates or in being a motivator for a class project.
  • You also learn how hurtful gossip and someone talking about you behind your back can be; this is where you have to learn to deal with that. Do you choose to not be a gossiper to directly talk to the person you have an issue with or spread rumors? This is where you can build your empathy for others as well as self-regulation. 
  • You will also discover if you can manage your time well and if you are able to ask for help when you need it to get work done. An example of this is two days ago you told Sue at work that you would cover for her only to realize that you have an assigned essay due. If you cover for Sue you will not have time to do that essay; what do you do? Cover for her as you said you would and turn the essay in late, cover for her and try to do the essay while you are working; or do you find someone who can help you with that essay?

Building your emotional intelligence during school years and even after can help you get hired at a good paying job or in the industry which you wish to be working in.  Always work on emotional intelligence by being more self-aware and honestly understanding your weaknesses and strengths and what you can do to improve your emotional intelligence.


Emotional intelligence has changed the way companies and businesses hire their employees so you need to learn how to strengthen your emotional intelligence.

Someone once told me “it is not the hand you are dealt in life but how you react to that hand that defines your character” I always agreed and still do but I would also say that the hand you’re dealt and how you deal with it defines your emotional intelligence as well.

2 Responses

  1. Hi. Sorry – I found this
    Hi. Sorry – I found this advice too simplistic. People have been asking about candidate ‘weaknesses’ long before Emotional Intelligence became a
    Focus. Surely key change has been the move to behavioural & evidence based interviews- using ideas like STAR? Also – measuring empathy by ‘eye contact’? Really? Where is the diversity awareness in this? Cross-cultural body language differences? People on autistic spectrum? Can we have a little more Seth to the analysis please?

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