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What Interviewers Should Ask To Test Candidates’ EQ

What Interviewers Should Ask To Test Candidates’ EQ

Most experts now agree that a successful career depends much more on emotional intelligence (EQ) than intelligence (IQ), functional and technical skills, and qualifications. An emotionally intelligent person is the one who can understand the emotions of the people he or she works with and how to use these to empathize, negotiate and motivate. In addition, a person with high EQ has a keen self-awareness and can control emotions to help build successful business relationships. The sad fact is that many employers and interviewers are not asking the right questions at the job interview. Lack of emotional skills accounts for the 23% failure rate of new hires. If you are about to assess a candidate, think about these 8 questions which will be a good indicator of their EQ.

“Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.” – Howard Gardner, University of Harvard

1. Did you build any lasting relationships in a previous job?

The reason for this question is to establish how much importance the candidate places on relationships within the workplace. Loners and selfish types will stumble over this question.

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The ideal answer will reveal how much help she gave her colleagues and how this was reciprocal. Examples of giving and receiving praise for tasks well done are great indicators of EQ. Look out for examples of mentoring, helping to build connections and other examples of giving, rather than receiving.

2.  How do you cope with failure?

The reasoning behind this question is to assess whether a candidate can manage to learn from failure and also if they are capable of reframing objectives and strategies in a more positive light. It is also an indicator of how they will remain motivated and how they will inspire their team to move forward.

Listen for how the candidate analyzes the failure. If it was within his control, is he able to stand back and examine what went wrong and what could have been done better. If the candidate concentrates on blaming others for the failure and vents frustration and anger, this is not a good sign that they are emotionally intelligent.

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3. Describe a situation at work in which you were involved in a conflict. What is your analysis of that particular encounter?

The reason for this question is to assess whether the candidate can actually deal with conflict rather than letting it lead to a toxic environment and fester. Listen for examples of when they decided to step in to neutralize and minimize the fallout. A possible example is where a colleague is not doing their duty and this is negatively impacting on other workers’ performance and morale. The worker resorts to emotional tirades or blameshifting to justify his inefficiency. The candidate should be able to demonstrate how she used her communication, empathy and leadership skills to define what is acceptable behavior and performance. She should also demonstrate an unbiased analysis of how effective or ineffective her intervention was.

4. Who inspires you and why?

This is a great question to find out what values, business ethics and principles are driving the candidate. It also provides useful glimpses as to the candidate’s personality and character. The wise candidate will avoid mentioning famous celebrities or politicians as they are not always universally loved. A much better idea is to mention a close relative who has inspired the candidate because of their dedication, moral principles, fairness and sheer hard work. There are some good examples of ordinary people who inspire at the end of the article here.

5. How effective are your people skills?

This is to assess whether he can communicate and use persuasive tactics to manage change, develop relationships and to inspire fellow staff members. Look for examples of how they build teamwork, collaborate and share information. A story of how the candidate kept their cool in a stressful situation will always impress. Ask how the others reacted and if the boss was grateful for the skills displayed and if this was in the performance assessment. An episode where the candidate shows empathy for a colleague who needs support because of personal or work challenges and how he guided them through a crisis will always go down well.

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“When we think of people skills, words such as personality, empathy, and tonality come to mind.”- Teri Hockett, CEO, What’s For Work?

6. Give us an example of how your IQ and EQ work well together

The aim of this question is to see how aware the candidate is of using all their types of intelligence in a constructive way. If they rely too much on empathy and social skills, they may favor one contractor over another, just because he is a really nice guy and is local. But using other parameters such as seeing what the price range is, what other services are offered and what ratings they have should also influence the candidate’s decision. Balancing IQ and EQ will be important for hiring, firing, price fixing and a whole range of other business decisions. This will also expand the range of choices available when dealing with any situation at work.

7. How important is optimism in your work environment?

An employer needs to know why negativity should never be at the top of a candidate’s list of priorities. Nobody wants to work with the blameshifters, whiners and losers. The interviewer asks this question because they need to know how the job seeker is able to see long term objectives. There is no discouragement even when they have to face adversity. Opportunities are sought out even when things are getting really tough. They also know how to capitalize on successes and use good news and growth indicators for inspiration and building morale. Examples like these will always score highly in the interview.

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8. What people skills do you intend to improve on in this position?

The reason for this very important question is that life demands constant upgrading of all our skills and knowledge. We can never relax and put our feet up, especially with people skills. Challenges in dealing with difficult colleagues, lazy workers, dishonest partners and untrustworthy partners will always demand attention. This is a good question because it gives an insight into how emotionally intelligent the candidate is. There may be a listing of positive soft skills but there will be a strong component of what areas need improvement. The candidate should be able to give an example where she or he felt that their listening skills need refinement or where an impulsive response was inappropriate. Trusting people and delegating might be areas they feel need improvement. An awareness of these defects scores highly at the interview.

Asking these questions will reveal a lot more about the candidate and will help to reduce the high number of failures when hiring.

Featured photo credit: Businessmen shaking hands/reynermedia via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Published on March 20, 2019

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

How to Write a Powerful Mission Statement for Your Business

Have you ever felt lost in the minutia of your job?

As a business owner, I can relate to getting bogged down in the day to day operations of my business. Things like inventory, payroll, scheduling, purchasing and employee management take up the bulk of my day.

While these things are important and need to get done, focusing too much on the details can make you lose sight of the big picture. This is why having a good mission statement comes in handy.

What is a Mission Statement?

Put simply, a mission statement is an internal document that provides a clear purpose for the organization. It provides a common reference point for everyone in the organization to start from.

In other words, after reading your company’s mission statement, managers and employees should be able to answer the question “What are company’s main objectives?” For example, Southwest Airlines mission statement reads:[1]

“Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.”

In this single statement, Southwest conveys the company’s goals of providing the highest level of customer service as well as providing a good working environment for their employees.

Mission Statement VS. Vision Statement

While the mission and vision statements are related, there are subtle but distinct differences the you should be aware of.

First of all, a mission statement is designed primarily as an internal company document. It provides clarity and direction for managers and employees.

While there’s nothing wrong with sharing your company’s mission statement with the outside world, its intended audience is within the company.

While a mission statement provides a general framework for the organization, the vision statement is usually a more inspirational statement designed to motivate employees and inspire customers. Going back to Southwest Airlines, their vision statement reads:[2]

“To become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”

This statement inspires good feeling from the customer while motivating the employees to achieve that vision.

What Does a Good Mission Statement Look Like?

When coming up with a mission statement, it’s important to take your time and do it right. Too often, people (especially entrepreneurs) just write down the first thing that comes to mind and they end up with worthless or (worse yet) a generic mission statement that is utterly useless.

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Remember, a mission statement should provide a common framework for everyone in your organization.

When writing a mission statement, you should always try to incorporate the following;

  • What we do?
  • How we do it?
  • Whom do we do it for?
  • What value are we bringing?

Now, you can see how tempting it is to just come up with something generic that ticks off those four boxes. Something like “We provide the best widgets available online for the consumer.”

After all, that did check off all the boxes:

What we do? Provide widgets.

How we do it? Online.

Who do we do it for? The consumer.

What value we bring? The best widgets.

The problem with this mission statement is that it could apply to any number of companies producing the same widget. There is nothing to distinguish your company or its widgets from any of your competitors widgets.

Compare that mission statement to this one:

“We provide the highest quality widgets directly to the consumer at an affordable price backed up with a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If our clients aren’t 100% satisfied, we’ll make it right.”

What’s the difference?

Both mission statements answer all the same questions of what, how, whom and value. But in the second statement, they are differentiating their company from all other competitors by answering the question “what makes us unique”.

Another way to read that is, “Why you should buy from us.” In this example, it’s because our widgets are of the highest quality and we stand behind them 100%.

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You might have noticed the statement didn’t say that we sell widgets at the lowest possible price. That’s because we are emphasizing quality and satisfaction over price.

A different company’s mission statement may emphasize selling widgets at the lowest possible price with little to no mention of a guarantee.

Hallmarks of a Good Mission Statement

1. Keep It Brief

Your mission statement should be no longer than three sentences. This is not your company’s magnum opus.

You should be able to distill the what, how, who and why questions into a succinct message.

2. Have a Purpose

A company’s missions statement should include the reason it even exists.

Make clear exactly what the company does with statements like “We strive to provide our customers with …….”

3. Include a “How”

Take this as an opportunity to differentiate your company from its competitors.

How do you provide a product or service that’s different or better than how your competitor provides it?

4. Talk About the Value You Bring to the Table

This is where you can really set yourself apart from the competition. This is the “why” customers should buy from you.

Do you offer the lowest prices? Fastest delivery? Exceptional customer service? Whatever it is that sets you apart and gives your particular products, services or company an advantage talk about it in the mission statement.

5. Make Sure It’s Plausible

It’s okay to shoot for the stars just to settle for the moon, but not in a mission statement.

Being overly ambitious will only set you and your employees up for failure, hurt morale and make you lose credibility. You will also scare away potential investors if they think that you are not being realistic in your mission statement.

6. Make It Unique and Distinctive

Imagine if someone who knew nothing about your business walked in and saw how it was operating, then they read your mission statement. Would they be able to recognize that mission statement was attached to that business? If not re-work it.

7. Think Long Term

A mission statement should be narrow enough so that it provides a common framework for the existing business, but open enough to allow for longer term goals. It should be able to grow as the business grows.

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8. Get Feedback

This is very important, especially from managers and employees.

Getting their input can clarify how they currently see the company and their role within the organization. It’s also a good way to get people “on-board,” as studies show that people are more likely to go along with an idea if they feel included in the decision making process beforehand.

9. Review Often and Revise as Necessary

You should review the missions statement often for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of what the essence of the company is. It’s easy to forget when you are in the day to day grind of the business.

And two, to make sure that the mission statement is still relevant. Things change, and not everything can be anticipated at the time a mission statement was written.

For example, if a mission statement was written before the advent of the internet, a company that use to sell things door to door now probably has a website that people order from. You should always update the mission statement to reflect these changes.

The Value of Mission Statements: Why Go Through All of These in the First Place?

It may seem like a lot of work just for a few sentences that describe a company, but the value of a well written mission statement should not be discounted.

First of all, if you are an entrepreneur, crystallizing the what, how, whom and value questions will keep you focused on the core business and its values.

If you are a manager or other employee, knowing the company’s basic tenants will help inform your interactions with both customers and colleagues alike.

Strategic Planning

A relevant mission statement acts as a framework for strategic planning. It provides guidance and parameters for making strategic decisions for the future of the company.

Measuring Performance

By having the company’s mission in a concrete form, it also allows for an objective measurement of how well the organization is meeting its stated goals at any one time.

Management can identify strengths and weaknesses in the organization based on the criteria set forth in the mission statement and make decisions accordingly.

Solidifying the Company’s Goals and Values for Employees

Part of a well run organization is nurturing happy and productive employees.

As humans, we all have an innate need for both purpose and to be part of something larger than ourselves. Providing employees with a clearly defined mission statement helps to define their role in the larger organization. Thus, fulfilling both of these needs.

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Now I’m not saying that a mission statement can overcome low pay and poor working conditions, but with everything else being equal, it can contribute to a happier and more productive workforce.

To Hold Management Accountable

By creating a mission statement, a company is publicly stating its highest values and goals for the world to see. By doing so, you are inviting both the public and your employees to to scrutinize how well the company lives up to its ideals.

So if you state that you only provide the highest quality products, and then offer something less, it’s fair for both the public and the employees to question, and even call for a change in management.

If management doesn’t take the mission statement seriously, no one else will either; and the legitimate authority that management rely’s on will be diminished.

To Serve as an Example

This is the opposite side of the coin from the previous statement. If the highest levels of management are seen taking the mission statement seriously and actively managing within the framework of the statement, that attitude filters down throughout the organization.

After all, a good employee knows what’s important to their boss and will take the steps necessary to curry favor with them.

Finally, use the company’s mission statement as a way to define roles within the company. You can do this by giving each division in the company a copy of the mission statement and challenge the head of each division to create a mission statement for their respective departments.

Their individual mission statements should focus on how each department fits in and ultimately contributes to the success of the company’s overall mission statement. This serves as both a clarifying and a team building exercise for all parts of the organization.

Final Thoughts

Developing a mission statement is too often just an after-thought, especially for entrepreneurs. We tend to prioritize things that we perceive will give us the biggest “bang for our buck.”

Somehow, taking the time and effort to sit down and think seriously about the what, whom, how and value of our business seems like a waste of time. After all, we got in the business to make money and become successful, isn’t that all we need to know?

That mindset will probably get you started okay, but if you find yourself having any success at all, you’ll find that there really is such a thing as growing pains.

By putting in the time and effort to create a mission statement, you are laying the groundwork that will give you a path to follow in your growth. And isn’t building long term success what we are really after?

More Resources About Achieving Business Success

Featured photo credit: Fab Lentz via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Southwest Airlines: About Page
[2] Fit Small Business: 10 Vision Statement Examples To Spark Your Imagination

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