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Assess Emotional Intelligence to Make Better Hires

Workforce demographics are changing.

Skills gaps are widening.

Employee loyalty isn’t what it used to be.

In today’s environment, hiring mistakes can be extremely costly. What’s the best way to ensure success?

Obviously, you need to make sure your candidate has the right experience and job skills. Beyond that, however, you should also assess the individual’s soft skills.

As we mentioned in this earlier post, “That Candidate Looks Great on Paper – But Will They Fit Your Culture,” effective hiring requires you to assess a candidate’s cultural fit. Part of that assessment should include gauging the prospective employee’s emotional intelligence.

Just what is “emotional intelligence” – and how can you measure it during the interview process? Today, our Nashville recruitment firm provides an introduction to the concept and shares questions you can use to gauge this particular soft skill.

Emotional Intelligence: What Is It?

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a specific type of intelligence that allows an individual to be aware (and in control) of their own emotions, while also being able to identify the emotions of others. In general, people with high emotional intelligence:

  • Manage relationships with others well.
  • Understand the important role human emotion plays in the workplace.
  • React effectively and appropriately in a variety of situations.

While there’s no litmus test for measuring a candidate’s EQ, you can customize these questions to see if an applicant has empathy, self-awareness and the ability to learn from their mistakes – three hallmarks of high EQ that will allow an individual to thrive in your organization:

Interview Questions to Assess Emotional Intelligence

  1. Describe an instance when your mood impacted your job performance either positively or negatively. Look for indications that the candidate understands their own emotions and stays in control of them.
  2. Tell me about your past work relationships. How have you made friends at work? An individual with high EQ is adept at forming friendships with direct reports, peers and supervisors; examples of lasting friendships indicate the person cares about people.
  3. Explain a business situation in which you negatively impacted a customer, peer or direct report. (probe) How did you know you affected this person, and what did you do about it? High-EQ candidates will explain the verbal and nonverbal cues they picked up on which indicated something was wrong. In addition, they will be able to clearly explain how they adjusted their own behavior to resolve the situation.
  4. How do you deal with failure on the job? An emotionally intelligent job candidate views failure as a temporary setback. In their response, look for signs that they took a practical approach to the situation, learned from their failure and moved on.


Find the right fit with Wood Personnel. Experts in behavioral interviewing, our experts will only refer good people with the right soft skills to thrive in your organization. What can Wood do for you?  Contact your local Wood Personnel office today.