Testing for Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
Emotional intelligence (emotional quotient) plays an important part in employee performance as it measures an individual’s ability to identify and regulate one’s emotions and the emotions of others.
In fact, having a high EQ can help you to build relationships, regulate emotions, and understand the emotions of others, so it is important for everyone who wants to be able to work and succeed in any organisation.
EQ questions allow hiring managers and recruiters to gain a deeper understanding of a candidate’s ability to:
- Be aware of their own and the emotions of others
- Manage their emotions to adapt to different environments
- And to recognise and regulate their own behaviour
Employees with high emotional and social intelligence generally make good hires because they:
- Collaborate effectively with their colleagues
- Adapt well to change or uncertain environments
- Embrace open communication (being completely transparent to effectively complete tasks)
As a recruiter or hiring manager, you should ask specific questions that are relevant to the role they are hiring for. For example, an emotionally intelligent sales representative can manage their own frustration when dealing with complaints from their clients. Someone in a developer role in the IT space may demonstrate high EQ in a different way, for example, when colleagues find bugs in their code they don’t get upset, instead, they accept the advice and refocus their work.
Employees with high emotional intelligence will have a natural empathy for other people’s feelings, which makes them thrive in a team environment. These employees build trusting relationships and effectively communicate with co-workers and customers. They are usually open to receiving feedback as they are more aware of their strengths and weaknesses and look for opportunities to self-improve.
Questions to test emotional intelligence
- [Ethics question] Tell me about a time you dealt with at work. How did you deal with it and what was the result?
- [Feedback question] Describe to me a time where your work was criticised. How did you respond to this and what did you learn?
- [Conflict question] How would you resolve a dispute between two colleagues? Tell me about a time when you didn’t agree with your supervisor. How did you resolve it?
- [Complaint question] How would you react if a customer said that they don’t agree with the price of your consulting services?
How to assess emotional intelligence
Get candidates to talk about a past experience or hypothetical situation. You should be able to ask more detailed follow-up questions about the situation.
- Body language: do candidates seem unhappy when talking about negative feedback they have received? Can they explain how they improved because of the feedback they have received?
- Ask tailored, role-specific questions: certain roles require higher levels of emotional intelligence than others. For example, a consultant that doesn’t respond to a client’s complaints might be considered unmotivated. For a social media coordinator, this response could be a good sign; instead of immediately responding to a bad comment, they might choose to reach out (discreetly) to resolve the issue.
If candidates give a variation of one of the following responses, it’s likely they might not have the required EQ for the role in question:
- Templated answers – for example, “my colleague and I had a disagreement about a project we were working on, we then sat down and resolved the issue.” This answer seems to give no specific experience in real work environments.
- Generalised answers – for example, “I’m calm under pressure” or “I am an effective team player”. These answers are very vague and can apply to a range of different situations – look for detailed responses that draw on a specific experience.
- Criticising or accusing colleagues – candidates who tend to criticise their colleagues may lack self-assessment skills and avoid taking responsibility for their actions. Candidates who talk about negative experiences should outline what they have learnt from this.
- Body language – if a candidate appears uncomfortable when answering these questions, usually means they don’t perform well under stressful situations.