2 Interview Questions To Test If Job Candidates Have Emotional Intelligence
Via Forbes : Forty-six percent of new employees will fail within 18 months of hire. Eighty-nine percent of the time it’s for attitude, and low emotional intelligence ranks second in why they fail.
People low in emotional intelligence don’t understand or know how to manage their own emotions. And they don’t know how to read emotions in others. We see this in employees who struggle to deal with stress, overcome obstacles and resolve conflict, or who fail to meet the needs of coworkers and customers, are negative, blamers, entitled, procrastinators, change resistors, overly sensitive or drama kings and queens. And that’s just for starters.
You’ve got limited time when interviewing candidates and it isn’t easy to assess emotional intelligence. But with a good interview question or two and the knowledge of what good and bad responses sound like, you can identify whether someone can move past negative feelings including anger, doubt and anxiety, or if they are generally flexible, optimistic, confident, empathic, congenial and more.
Interestingly, not all jobs require the same levels of emotional intelligence. Research shows that in certain jobs, having higher emotional intelligence is actually correlated with lower job performance. The determining factor in whether emotional intelligence is positively or negatively related to job performance is called “emotional labor.” You can actually test this for yourself in the online quiz “Does Your Job Require High Or Low Emotional Intelligence?”
Here are two interview questions to test emotional intelligence along with some real-life responses the questions generated. These questions work to reveal the truth about emotional intelligence because they are structured as non-leading and open-ended behavioral questions.
Question No. 1: Could you tell me about a time you made a mistake at work?
You won’t hear people low in emotional intelligence take much accountability for their mistakes. The people you want to hire know that it’s OK to make mistakes as long as they acknowledge the error, make corrections, help others to avoid making similar errors and move on. It should be easy to differentiate the good answer from the bad answer in the following real-life responses:
• Answer No. 1: I was told I generated a client report incorrectly, but I had done it that way before and no one ever said anything. After some research, I learned that the proper instructions were never written down anywhere and the person that instructed me to do it that way was no longer with the company. It made me mad and from that point on I always safeguarded myself so I never got blamed for someone else’s mistake again.
• Answer No. 2: There was a problem on the production line and I ordered a shut down on the whole system. It took hours to repair during which time I learned that one of my peers could have fixed the problem and minimized the impact of lost production. I made a hasty decision in response to feeling overwhelmed in the moment. I felt embarrassed to have failed to access all solutions and expertise available to me, but I learned a lot from the experience.
Question No. 2: Could you tell me about a time you got tough feedback from your boss?
Emotionally intelligent people are self-aware, self-confident and open-minded; they have a thick skin that allows them to receive and positively utilize critical feedback. People with low emotional intelligence typically get offended or defensive when presented with tough feedback. It’s not hard to identify the two in the following examples of real-life answers to this interview question:
• Answer No. 1: My boss blindsided me with a negative comment about my behavior. I confronted him about it and he was unable to give me examples of when this occurred so the issue was dropped. I was livid about this and felt that it should have been removed from my performance review because it was unsubstantiated.
• Answer No. 2: After spending substantial time preparing to lead a training session, my manager told me I went into too much detail and didn’t keep the presentation at a high enough level. The feedback came as a surprise, and I was disappointed, but it was valuable information. I had failed to build the training session to the audience and curb some of the unnecessary detail, and I corrected this in future sessions.
You can use these questions in your own interviews, or look for situations where emotional intelligence (or a lack of it) reveals itself in your organization to create new questions.
It’s also important to listen to how candidates respond. Do they rush in with the first thing that comes to mind, or do they take some time to answer tough questions, and how comfortable are they in that silence? People with good emotional intelligence also tend to have a well-developed emotional vocabulary. Everyone experiences emotions, but not everyone can accurately identify them when they occur. Take note whether candidates say they felt “good” or “bad” or if they use more specific words like “frustrated,” “anxious,” “excited” and “surprised” to express how they felt. A candidate’s word choice can provide good insight into whether they understand how they were feeling, how others felt, what caused a situation, and how this understanding directed them to act.
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