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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 November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

Reference

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