6 questions about measuring emotional intelligence in an interview. Find out which of the six most important competencies distinguish star performers from average performers?
We already know intuitively jobs like those in sales and customer service, where emotional skills obviously make a big difference. What surprised me was working at Google on the "Search Inside Yourself" course. They reported that the same applies to individual tech workers, namely engineers who you would expect to be successful only because of their intellectual abilities. The six key competencies that distinguish star performers from average tech performers are:
- Strong urge to perform and high performance standards (EQ)
- Influence Ability (EQ)
- Conceptual Thinking (IQ)
- Analytical ability (IQ)
- Challenge Management Initiative (EQ)
- Self-confidence (EQ)
Of the top 6, only two (conceptual thinking and analytical skills) are purely intellectual skills. The other four, including the best two, are emotional skills. We also created a course at JUMO to improve EQ skills. The course is called "Just Being" and follows a mindfulness approach that gradually builds the skills required to optimize emotional intelligence. You start with attention training, the foundation. Then on to emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills.
How do you go about interviewing for EQ skills? Organizations place great value on emotional intelligence and traditional interview methods need to be retooled to test this. Smart interviewees have figured out how to look more emotionally intelligent. I think an interviewer needs to have strong EQ skills himself, and perhaps the interviewer should be trained to strengthen and optimize his emotional skills. Personally, I have to face a potential candidate and be in a neutral environment like a coffee shop to level the playing field. Let the candidate surprise a little. Then ask these questions.
1. What are you least proud of? WORK OR PERSONAL. Some who are eager and haven't quite heard the question will start rapping, which is what they're proud of. A little reminder of “LEAST PROUD” creates a pause and nervous hesitation. I like leading a candidate to a more personal experience. This potentially opens up an emotional page for the individual where you can see how they handled or processed the experience. The follow up is to ask what they learned and how they monitor themselves. This directly indicates self-awareness and self-regulation.
2. HOW DO YOU RELY ON OTHERS TO MAKE THEM BETTER? This is about examining social skills and examining how the candidate deals with potential negative feedback. Someone with a strong EQ would appreciate feedback without affecting their ego. Also, it can help you find out if they are doing this on purpose in their life as it indicates someone who is on a journey of improvement. Powerful awareness of self-regulation.
3. WHAT IMPORTANT TRUTH DO VERY FEW PEOPLE AGREE WITH YOU? I love this one. Stole is straight from "Zero to One" by Peter Thiel. That question got completely wrong at times, and I had to add, "And remember that religion and politics are not advisable in an interview." I emphasize that there is no right or wrong answer. The question enables me to explore authenticity within an individual. Some answers can be very deep and others emotionally shallow. I think it shows a candidate whether I can trust him. It also shows a level of awareness a candidate has found in himself.
These first three questions generally give me a strong sense and view of their emotional intelligence.
4. WHAT DOES THE WORD EMPATHY MEAN? Empathy is often confused with something called "psychologizing". Speculating in psychological terms or on psychological motivations, often in an uninformed manner. Empathy does not necessarily mean agreeing either. It is possible to understand another person with kindness on both an intellectual and a visceral level, and yet disagree. Aristotle said: "It is the sign of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." Disagreeing with empathy is very similar. It is the hallmark of a developed mind to be able to understand and accept another's feeling without consenting to it. The best way to make tough decisions is with kindness and empathy.
5. IF YOU RUN YOUR OWN BUSINESS, WHICH PEOPLE WOULD YOU HIRE AND WHY? This underlines what your candidates value in others and in teams. Which people do you prefer to work with? Do they focus on people or the results? What skills and styles do they highlight when relating and managing others to achieve common goals? Try to find out how closely they would work with people. This question can also be directed to compassion. Switching from “I” to “We” is the most important process to become an authentic leader. The aim is to examine the ambitions and personal humility of the candidates.
6. WHAT INSPIRES YOU AND WHY? The last emotional competence you want to explore is motivation. In general, a candidate will talk about what they are hired for, what inspires them. Boring! You need to control the feedback to find out what is really motivating. They want to discover a depth of their emotional intelligence. This question indicates a candidate's level of maturity. Candidates will show many different levels based on their experience, but what is key to me is how they may push themselves to get to a higher level!
The more you can break away from the traditional interview model, which is mainly geared towards examining a candidate's past experiences, the better you can get a glimpse of their emotional intelligence. This means being creative – ask hypothetical questions and don't hesitate to share your own views and experiences. Being open and authentic creates a foundation of trust that will allow you to find a potential candidate far more effectively.
I was lucky enough to have started a moving meditation with Tai Chi at a young age. By practicing Tai Chi for over 25 years, I have been able to lay a solid foundation to support the most important aspect of EQ development, which is attention training.
If you are interested in helping yourself or helping the teams you manage, you can learn more about EQ training using the links below.
- What is EQ?
- Emotional Intelligence Training Course
- Learn to meditate with the Just6 app
- Meditation and science
- 7 reasons why emotional intelligence is fast becoming one of the most sought-after professional skills
- The Secret to High Salary Emotional Intelligence
- How to bring mindfulness to your employee wellness program
- Google search within yourself