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8 interview questions for emotional intelligence

It's important to hire employees who fit the culture and values of the business.

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Having a robust hiring process that includes performance-based interviews can help identify high performing candidates from a diverse talent pool. Hiring a high performance team can no doubt help you take your business to next level, but it is also important to hire employees who fit the culture and values of the business. An employee’s success in the workplace is heavily determined by his or her emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is very important to any leader in your business as it will have a direct influence on your employees through working with their managers. Having interviewed hundreds of candidates and clients in the course of our work, we have observed a key trait that is obvious in highly successful people: they are typically people with high emotional intelligence. Such people have the ability to understand and manage their emotions in a positive way, show empathy, influence people and diffuse conflict – skills that are critical in developing strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

So how do you interview someone for emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is commonly identified by four key attributes, which you can determine using the eight interview questions listed below. For an effective interview, you should always put these questions in a business context, and relate them directly to the position you are recruiting for.

Self-awareness

Leaders who understand what drives them can recognise their own emotions and how they might affect their thoughts and behaviour.

  • Can you tell me about a time when your mood affected your performance? What would you do differently next time?
  • What type of leaders inspire you and why?

Self-management

Leaders who can manage their emotions think before they act and are not prone to making reckless or rash decisions. They are able to adapt to a changing environment and are not afraid to say “no”.

  • Can you give me an example of a difficult colleague whom you worked with and how you built a more productive relationship?
  • Tell me about a time when you have had tough feedback from your boss. How did it make you feel and how did you react?

Social awareness

Leaders with well-developed emotional and social radars to sense the impact their words and actions can have on their teams exercise greater self-control over how they behave. They can pick up on power dynamics in groups, cultural differences and deal effectively with conflict.

  • Can you tell me of a time in a business situation where you said the wrong thing or felt you needed to adjust your behaviour? How did you know and what did you do to rectify the situation?
  • When business priorities change, can you describe how you would help your team understand the new direction and achieve the new targets?

Learn from mistakes

Leaders have high levels of empathy, can acknowledge their mistakes, reflect critically on what went wrong and learn from them moving forward.

  • Could you describe to me a situation where you have needed to change your behaviour? How did you know you need to change and what did you take from that moving forward?
  • Tell me about a time where you made a mistake at work. What went wrong? What did you do and what would you do differently next time?

Contributed by Martin Hill, Associate Director of HR, Randstad, Singapore.

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