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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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