How to use your EQ to ace that interview

Author: Michael Jones, Head of Internal Recruitment & Training, Hays UK&I

EQ is a measure of your emotional intelligence and reflects your ability to identify and manage your own emotions. EQ also enables you to empathise with others and adapt your behaviour accordingly.

As a recruiter, EQ is always extremely high up on my list of priorities when it comes to assessing candidate’s suitability to my business and I’m sure the same can be said for many of my counterparts. It is my belief that having a high EQ demonstrates that you can be resilient in the face of adversity, flexible where there is a need for rapid change, self-motivated and able to build a strong rapport with others – all very desirable traits to have as an individual. With that in mind, let’s consider how you can showcase your EQ in an interview process.

Show you can take the good with the bad

Like I said, having a high EQ means you can recognise and regulate your own emotions. Everyone has those days where nothing goes according to plan and we feel stressed, disappointed or even apathetic. It’s how you deal with these emotions that matter to the interviewer. Therefore, don’t be surprised if they ask questions which may require you to explain how you handle negative situations. Here are a few examples:

  • Can you give me an example of a recent situation in the workplace where you did not succeed and how you dealt with the feedback?
  • How do you handle pressure and stress related to your job?
  • How do you respond to constructive feedback?

As a candidate with a high EQ, you should be able to identify how a situation makes you feel and why. You should be able to demonstrate that you have the ability to channel this feeling and provide a plausible and positive outcome in the form of a solution.

In short, spot which questions are testing your ability to handle negative emotion and prepare to talk about how you identified the feeling, regulated it and turn it into something positive. I’d also suggest using a recent example where possible to demonstrate your development.

Talk about what gets you out of bed every morning

Now onto the cheerier subject of motivation. If you are someone with a high EQ, you will know what spurs you on to succeed, and every employer wants candidates who know how to motivate themselves, after all, motivation equals high productivity and good results. Therefore, be ready for questions like;

  • What motivates you?
  • Who inspires you and why?
  • How do you make sure you achieve your goals both inside and outside of work?

Have answers to these questions ready and more importantly, know how to keep these motivational tools in the forefront of your mind; be it a career goal, inspirational person, or a sense of purpose for what you do.

Show that you have empathy for others

It is one thing to be mindful of your own emotions but what about other people’s feelings? Being able to understand and empathise with other people’s emotions is a very important trait for anyone interviewing for a new job and it also implies that you can build a strong rapport with the team, collaborate well on projects and build relationships with senior colleagues. It also suggests that you will be able to identify the needs of stakeholders and clients, driving the business forward with suitable ideas, solutions and ultimately, success.

How best can you show this indicator of EQ during your interview? First, use your own emotional intelligence during the interview to gauge the interviewer’s level of interest. If they look disengaged or perplexed by an answer you give, check that you haven’t gone off on a tangent.

Secondly, prepare some answers for questions centred on your relationships with other people, for instance;

  • How would your colleagues describe your relationship with them?
  • How have you been able to strengthen client/customer relationships?
  • How would your friends describe you?

Make sure that your answers showcase your ability to build up a strong rapport with others through being empathetic and sensitive to their needs.

In closing, by following my advice you won’t sell yourself short when it comes to demonstrating your EQ in an interview process. If you can show that you have the emotional intelligence to be mindful and in control of your own emotional reactions, and sensitive to those of others, this demonstrates that you are a team player who is professional in your conduct and able to motivate yourself. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone like that?

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