Employers Look for Emotional Intelligence by Asking These Questions

John Krautzel
Posted by in Career Advice

Emotional intelligence, the ability to manage your own emotions and understand the emotions of others, is essential in many job positions, and hiring managers are increasingly using job interview questions to learn more about your emotional abilities. Companies want employees who can keep their emotions in check and help others work through difficult emotional situations. Here are a few standard interview questions that give interviewers a peek at your emotional intelligence level.

Tell Me About an Ethical Dilemma You Had on the Job

This question gives the interviewers an idea of how you use your emotions when making difficult decisions. Your emotional response is just as important as how you dealt with the actual dilemma. Let the interviewers know how you worked through your emotions calmly and came to a rational decision that was good for the company, your co-workers and yourself.

Give Examples of Times You Dealt With Criticism From Your Boss

If you have low emotional intelligence, you are likely to get upset when receiving negative feedback. You may place all the blame on others or express anger at your boss. A better response is to take the criticism to heart and learn from it. Even if you feel the criticism is unfair, it is still important to listen carefully to your boss and try to see things from his point of view. Show your emotional intelligence by working to understand where your boss is coming from and figuring out how to improve your own performance and the situation in general.

Explain a Mistake You Made at Work

Again, it is very important to avoid acting defensive or placing blame when you make a mistake. Candidates with low emotional intelligence might answer this question with a description of a time they sort of made a mistake but it really wasn't their fault. A better answer to this question is a description of a time you made a real mistake with real consequences. It is acceptable to explain how this mistake came about, but also share how you calmly handled the situation. Be sure to describe ways you helped fix the error and the things you learned from the experience. Having a positive attitude about mistakes while still taking responsibility shows you are an engaged team player who takes full responsibility for his work.

How Have You Handled a Disagreement Between Co-Workers?

In this case, the interviewers want to know how well you paid attention to your co-workers' emotions and how you used that understanding to alleviate the situation. Labeling specific emotions, such as fear, anxiety and frustration, shows higher levels of emotional intelligence than referring to emotions more generally. Tell about a time you handled conflict professionally in a calm manner while still taking the needs and feelings of your co-workers into consideration. Be sure to share a happy ending while still reflecting on ways you continued to monitor the situation after its resolution.

Emotional intelligence is not a static quality. With dedicated attention or coaching, you can improve your ability to handle intense emotions and help others work through emotional situations. Start by paying attention to your own emotions and learning to reflect before you react. Then, practice answering these sample job interview questions in a way that shows your heightened emotional intelligence.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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