Emotional intelligence or, EQ, is a critical factor in your candidacy for a new job, and it’s crucial to have a grasp on the concept and make sure you’re interviewing so that you’re highlighting your abundance of it! PsychCentral has a great definition of what EQ is, and breaks it out into 5 key categories: 1. Self-Awareness; 2. Self-Regulation; 3. Motivation; 4. Empathy and 5. Social Skills — all of which are equally important to display and express while interviewing. Their absence can cost you the chance to move to the next round. The in-person meeting phase of the interview process is the only place you can truly display these coveted characteristics that simply can’t be assessed through a resume alone.
Not to be confused with IQ, which doesn’t change significantly over the course of a lifetime, our EQ can evolve and increase with our desire to learn and grow. Perhaps no aspect of EQ is more important than our ability to effectively manage our own negative emotions, so they don’t overwhelm us and affect our judgment. Let’s distill where EQ plays into some basic interview scenarios so you can master how to handle these situations before they arise – and never miss the mark!
How you describe your last role or last boss
If you’ve been in the workforce and moved across companies during your career, chances are you’ve experienced management in some capacity that is — how do I say this without saying something negative myself?! — uninspiring. That said, it is still a sign of weak EQ to speak negatively about a former employer or boss, and your doing so can threaten your candidacy. It will look more like you’re swiping a bold highlighter across the fact that you’re unable to manage negative emotions, which is a key indicator of low EQ. Sure, your last company very well may not have been a positive place, however, showing you are are still harboring resentment toward a former employer will raise a red flag.
Why it matters: Your interviewer is assessing your ability to thrive on their team and when they hear negativity in your tone and words, especially during your first encounter, regardless of whether it’s warranted, all they’re really going to say to themselves, “is this person going to talk like that about me or my company 3 months from now?”. An interview simply isn’t the appropriate time to air your dirty laundry. Think about how to spin negatives into a positive and emphasize how what you learned in your last role has prepared you for this next step in front of you.
Preparedness to discuss your questions about the role at hand
If you don’t have questions prepared when your interviewer asks at the end of a meeting, you may as well just show yourself out the door! Interviews are a two way street and if your interviewers gives you the opportunity to ask questions, coming up empty handed — or looking like a deer-in-headlights with nothing to say — comes across to the person on the other side of the interview table as if you’re not interested in taking the conversation to the next level.
Why it matters: Interviewers appreciate when you ask substantive questions about the role, but an opportunity to strike a real chord lies within asking something about their personal reflections on their role or company. This shows you’re genuinely interested in more than the facts laid out in a job spec, the flashy office space, benefits and perks and compensation. Your interest in and ability to gauge how they feel about the company or role shows you are in tune with their emotions which is what EQ is all about! Even something as simple as, “What were the key qualities about ‘Insert Company Name’ that made you want to join the team?” can go a long way if you’ve already done your homework on the company and role — not to mention provide invaluable information you can’t find online about the business!
Weak or Non-Existent Interview Follow-Up
This one is simple. Not following up and thanking your interviewer for their time is a deal-breaker.
Why it matters: All people you meet with deserve a thank-you note. Not showing appreciation for time spent with you during the meeting is the equivalent of saying that their time is not valuable. While hiring is often a top priority, the hours companies spend interviewing candidates are hours they’ll have to make up later to complete their core work. Make sure your note is tailored to the role and to your individual conversations. If you simply send a generic note that could apply to any open role, it will show you don’t really care about how the note makes your interviewer feel, thus exhibits low EQ. If you make them feel like they’re just a number on your busy interview schedule, you’ll become number one on top of their pile of disqualified candidates.
All in all, through bringing intention into how you communicate and considering the emotions you portray in addition the emotions you can read from your interviewers, you’re in a better position to hit that figurative bullseye in your next meeting and land the job. Engaging your EQ can help you express a thoughtful narrative which will result a meaningful exchanges. If you leave the room feeling good about your interview, chances are, the feeling is mutual -so long as you’ve considered and demonstrated the 5 key elements of EQ!