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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 September 16, 2020

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

12 Practical Interview Skills to Help You Land Your Dream Job

Today, with many companies going remote—at least until there’s a COVID-19 vaccine—technical proficiency is a vital skill for every interviewee to master. You may be asked to interview for a job on Zoom or Microsoft Teams. The way you handle yourself in the online interview (your interview skills) will say much about your ability to work from home efficiently.

Does your workspace look clean or cluttered? Is the area free from noise? Is your home office well lit?

Once hired, you may be asked to organize meetings on Zoom and other platforms. Along with mastering the technology, you will have to learn to follow certain protocols.

Now is the time to get up to speed on your technical skills. Learn which interview skills are needed for the particular job for which you are applying and practice them.

Online learning sites, such as LinkedIn Learning and Udemy, offer courses for free or a nominal membership fee. If you are a DIY type, make use of training videos offered through your particular digital tools.

Additionally, demonstrating that you have these 12 interview skills will help you land your dream job.

1. Organization

When you work in a brick-and-mortar office, some of the organizing is left to others. Your direct supervisor may host a Monday morning quarterback meeting where each worker reports on the progress on their tasks.

When you work from home, much of the organizing will be left up to you. To a much greater extent than before, you will need to develop a schedule and stick to it. Some tasks may be faster to complete from your home office where you don’t have other workers competing for your attention.

Conversely, you may find that some tasks that would have gone quickly in an office seem to take forever from your home computer. Your phone may ring a lot, which can distract you, or you may have kids and a spouse who inadvertently disrupt your schedule.

To do: Set a schedule and stick to it.

To discuss during your interview: Be specific. Point to the interview skill you utilized to create a schedule for a complex work project and followed it.

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2. Flexibility

You set a schedule for the completion of your tasks, but your prospective boss gets their work done between the hours of 2:00 and 8:00 a.m. Your West Coast partners are three hours behind your East Coast partners, and one of your partners lives in England while another lives in Australia.

Feedback and collaboration (see point 3) may need to happen asynchronously. Be the flexible candidate—the person who is willing to occasionally disrupt their schedule for the greater good of the team.

For extra credit: don’t just look up time zones, look up whether they observe Daylight Savings Time.

To do: Be flexible about meeting times.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a time when you worked on a team where members lived in different time zones. Discuss your processes.

3. Collaboration

As recently as six months ago, before the pandemic raged around the world, collaboration wasn’t quite as essential as it is today. In a remote office setting, collaboration doesn’t just mean working well with others—but actually sharing documents and editing them online on time.

Several cloud-based tools, such as Google Drive, Basecamp, and Trello, enable the type of collaborative teamwork that most companies want today.

To do: Download the correct software and practice using it.

To discuss during your interview: Discuss how you worked remotely with a group. Share how you overcame certain challenges.

4. Poise

Murphy’s Law states, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

When things do go awry, keeping your wits about you will demonstrate your consummate professionalism under fire. This will show your future bosses that you will be able to work well under the pressures of remote work.

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What could go wrong, you ask? You might be muted without realizing it—your Internet connection may not be robust, your headphones may blip out, your cellphone may ring, Zoom could have an outage. The list goes on and on.

To do: Make sure you have the most up-to-date versions of Skype and Zoom uploaded.

To discuss during your interview: Consider highlighting a time when a project did not go as planned. Demonstrate the interview skills that allowed you to rise to the challenge.

5. Communication

Your ability to handle online communication is one of the top critical skills you will need to thrive in today’s remote workplace. Download Slack if you haven’t already. Get used to toggling to a different form of online communication if one of your tools fails.

When it comes to the preferred format for your online interview, demonstrate proficiency by offering several different options. Give your phone number, Google Chat Hangouts name, and Skype ID.

To do: Familiarize yourself with video conference and online chat tools, such as Slack, Fleep, or Workplace by Facebook.

To discuss during your interview: Be prepared to share the online communication tools you’re using and examples of how you use each one.

6. Good Computer Hygiene

Setting up a backup system for your computer files is one of today’s crucial requirements for working in the digital age. Storing documents that can be shared by team members is also an efficient way to work together on presentations, articles, and reports—although studies show nearly one-third of employees avoid them because of the time it takes to find documents.

Be prepared in your interview to indicate your experience utilizing this technology, describing how you organize and store files using cloud-based collaboration tools. How do you keep track of links and tabs? Do you use Dropbox? Google Docs? Confluence? Others?

To do: Take inventory of the cloud-based document sharing and storage systems you know and use.

To discuss during your interview: Describe the document sharing tools and backup systems you utilize—both for personal protection and professional file sharing.

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7. Proper Meeting Etiquette

Today, presenting yourself virtually has its pros and cons. While you only have to show a professional persona from the waist up (make sure to straighten up your office space behind you), you must boost your energy to show that you’re engaged in the discussion.

Make your voice as upbeat as possible. Have your talking points at the ready and be careful not to ramble on, as long virtual meetings easily become tiresome. Use the mute and chat features to avoid interruptions.

To do: Once you know the meeting platform, make sure you have it mastered before your interview.

To discuss during your interview: Offer to share your screen to show an example of a work project— while at the same time demonstrating your prowess with video conferencing tools.

8. Respecting Feedback

In the age of working remotely, there may not be as many systems in place to obtain feedback (such as yearly performance reviews). Workers may need to ask for feedback, while managers may need to give more feedback than usual as the team adjusts to working off-site. Respecting feedback is on top of the interview skills list that you should learn.

Taking a proactive approach with giving and receiving feedback and incorporating it into your work style is a desirable quality that your employers will note.

To do: Reflect on the positive feedback you’ve received from past employers to bolster your confidence.

To discuss during your interview: Share a time when you received feedback that made you grow in the job. If you’re a manager, share a time when you gave feedback to an employee who needed to better their job performance.

9. Project Management

Staying on task with projects has evolved far past a to-do list, with electronic tools that can track time, manage team workloads, and even do the client billing. While your prospective employer may have its preferred project management program, your experience with any of the various options—whether it’s Basecamp, Teamwork, Smartsheet, or another—will be applicable.

To do: Know which project management software is likely to be used by the industry in which you’re interviewing, and familiarize yourself with its features.

To discuss during your interview: Highlight a project management feature that is particularly useful in helping you excel in your work, and explain how you utilize it.

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10. Staying up to Speed

Employers expect their remote workers to be technically proficient so that technology runs smoothly and doesn’t create work disruptions. Bosses count on remote workers to know enough about their systems to manage them without relying on the help of overworked IT staff.

To do: Make sure you have a fast internet connection and have a back-up plan, such as a second computer or other tethered devices.

To discuss during your interview: Note that you are diligent about keeping your computer and software up to date.

11. Attention to Cybersecurity Issues

“Virus” is a loaded term these days. Spreading a computer virus in your company, however, will not only bring productivity to a halt, but it will also make you a pariah. While working from public places using free Wi-Fi (with uneven security provisions) has waned, in pre-pandemic times, coffee shops accounted for 62 percent of Wi-Fi security breaches.

To do: Keep antivirus software updated and don’t download software without verifying its authenticity.

To discuss during your interview: Emphasize your awareness of cybersecurity risks and your care in taking necessary safety measures.

12. Teamwork

Work relationships now mostly happen in virtual settings, yet employers value team-oriented workers.

Being a part of a team gives you a sense of connection and shared purpose. A well-honed team understands how mutual reliance makes the sum of its parts greater than when individuals act on their own, improving the end product.

To do: Take stock of your attributes as a team player and where you can cultivate skills that will enable you to work more collaboratively.

To discuss during your interview: Inquire about the company’s culture and how it encourages a sense of community despite working remotely.

Final Thoughts

Preparing for remote positions available in today’s job market will mean honing your interview skills to highlight your technical abilities as well as your adaptability. By adhering to these To-Do’s and perfecting your online interview skills and charisma, you will rise above the competition and win over any prospective employer.

More Tips to Improve Your Interview Skills

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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