Emotional intelligence (EQ) Interview Questions

Emotional Intelligence interview questions assist recruiters and hiring managers test emotional intelligence in candidates during the interview. Choosing the right EQ interview questions can be an important factor in finding the best candidate who will fit into the company culture.

Why test emotional intelligence in candidates?

A high level of Emotional Quotient (EQ) or Emotional Intelligence plays a vital role in employee performance. EQ interview questions give Hiring Managers and Recruiters a deep understanding of a candidate’s capability to:

  • Manage their emotions to adapt to various environments
  • Recognize and regulate their behavior
  • Consider their own and other people’s emotions

Assessing these qualities is important for a successful hire, because of employees with strong social and high emotional intelligence:

  • Adapt effectively to change
  • Embrace open communication
  • Collaborate well with their team members

Hiring Managers and recruiters should assess EQ by asking questions specific to the role they are recruiting for. For example, developer with a high emotional intelligence doesn’t get irritated when testers find bugs in their code during testing- instead they rectify the issues and make code error free. Likewise, an emotionally intelligent sales executive can manage their frustration when listening to customers’ complaints.

Some emotional qualities are important for all employees, irrespective of their role. Emotionally intelligent employees have a natural understanding of other people’s emotions, which makes them flourish in an environment. They build relationships based on mutual trust and effectively communicate with colleagues and clients. They are well aware of their weaknesses and strengths; as a result, they are more open to getting feedback as compared to employees with a lower level of emotional awareness and social intelligence.

Emotional intelligence interview questions

  • Tell me about a time you had a dispute with your Manager. How did you resolve it?
  • If a client complains that the cost of your service/product is very high, what would you tell  them?
  • How do you resolve conflicts between two team members?
  • Have your seniors ever criticized your work? How did you respond?
  • Have you faced an ethical dilemma at work? How did you deal with it?

How to assess candidates’ emotional intelligence?

  • Give your candidates sufficient time to think of real life examples based on their personal experience. Or, give them hypothetical scenarios to find out how they will react. Ask situational and role-specific questions. If your candidates share an experience and explain it in detail, it is essential to ask more questions.

“How did your relationship with your Manager change?”

“How did your colleague react to that?”

  • Ask role specific questions. For different positions, emotional intelligence is really important. For example, if a Sales Executive says that they ignore client complaints, this could imply that they are uninterested and easily quit. However, for social media coordinators, this type of answer is a great sign; rather than immediately replying to negative comments, they might choose to resolve the problem more professionally.
  • Pay attention to your candidates’ body language and reactions when they are answering your questions. Do they still look irritated when sharing instances of negative feedback they received from the client, or are they able to explain how they improved after the feedback they got?
  • Translate candidates’ answers into actual work experiences. Avoiding disputes can be a great sign sometimes. But in a professional team, it is a sign of an employee who suppresses feelings and could cause cooperation and performance problems in the long-term.

Red Flags

  • Uncomfortable body language: Candidates who look uncomfortable when answering emotional intelligence questions, or who exhibit impulse control, don’t perform well under pressure.
  • A Negative attitude about coworkers or seniors: Candidates who complain about others may lack self-assessment skills and avoid taking responsibility for their actions. However, it is not a red flag if a candidate describes a negative experience, given they have learned from their mistakes and changed their attitude.
  • Short answers: “I am a great team player.” Or “I remain calm under pressure.” These answers are too unclear to be useful. Look for detailed answers based on real life experiences.
  • Canned, clichéd answers: If candidates say “I had a conflict with a team member on a project, but we maintained our calm, discussed the issues and resolved everything right away.” These types of answers and no real life examples to share from experiences is a red flag.