How to answer 10 common interview questions to show you have emotional intelligence


Some of the beneficial traits employers are searching for proper now can’t be discovered on a résumé, a minimum of not explicitly. It’s not one thing you can pretend in an interview, or persuade your potential boss that you have with out demonstrating it by means of your conduct and tales.

However emotional intelligence—the savviness to be in tune together with your feelings and others’—can assist land you that dream job. EQ was probably the most in-demand expertise of 2020, in accordance to a LinkedIn analysis. And as workplaces ramp up their give attention to worker psychological well being and optimistic firm tradition, they’re wanting to rent new additions who can improve, relatively than detract from, this mission.

What’s emotional intelligence, and why are interviewers asking about it?

Whereas emotional intelligence might not be one thing that’s all the time in your thoughts within the office, it’s working continually beneath the floor, impacting how you and colleagues work together each day and the way successfully you full your tasks and meet your targets.

Often known as EQ, it encompasses each inner and exterior parts, and you can construct it up like a muscle. “I consider it as having two elements,” says Patricia Thompson, PhD, a corporate psychologist and creator of the “21-Day Crash Course in Emotional Intelligence,” which greater than 18,000 college students have accomplished. The primary element is “your potential to perceive your self and [your] feelings, and primarily based on that having the ability to regulate your self appropriately,” Thompson says.

The second, she says, is “to perceive others’ feelings to relate to them…and to have a excessive degree of social consciousness to use these insights.” In different phrases, can you acknowledge and course of your individual feelings and hold them beneath management? And are you in tune sufficient with others to understand, interpret, and empathize with their feelings?

It’s not nearly getting a feel-good vibe out of your office. As an alternative, EQ deeply impacts your relationships with bosses, coworkers, and purchasers in addition to your productiveness and your potential to give you and implement profitable methods. Plus, the elevated give attention to stopping office burnout—labeled an “occupational phenomenon” by the World Health Organization—necessitates hiring staff with excessive EQ, as they can assist create a more healthy office for themselves and others, and ultimately will develop into leaders who do the identical.

For all these causes, you can anticipate recruiters and hiring managers to be searching for people with excessive EQ. In an interview, questions about your EQ may come at you within the type of behavioral questions (which ask you to share examples of how you’ve acted in sure conditions) and different questions that immediate you to share how you course of, handle, and understand feelings. It may well even seem like the easy “What weaknesses are you working to overcome?” query, for instance, which might suss out how self-aware you are, how you take suggestions, and the way you cope with frustration.

So it’s essential to know which common interview questions and different queries you’re most definitely to encounter from a recruiter or hiring supervisor wanting to assess EQ—in addition to why they’re asking and the way to answer.


1. Inform me a couple of time you skilled a battle at work

This query is admittedly about your thought course of in addressing a problem, says Thompson, who seems to gauge the applicant’s notion of their position and others’ roles in fixing the issue.

When you get a “Inform me a couple of time…” query, or others assessing EQ, answer utilizing the STAR method, advises Joanna Lovering, an govt presence coach, and office psychologist at Copper+Rise. Describe the scenario (S), clarify your activity (T), lay out the particular actions you took (A), and finish with the outcomes of your efforts (R). “This exhibits a confirmed file of emotional intelligence as an alternative of merely having the ability to speak about it,” Lovering says.

To make use of the STAR methodology for this explicit interview query, contemplate a undertaking or occasion that truly did have a battle with a coworker, consumer, or boss. Clarify the scenario you encountered— together with what battle occurred and why—however hold it transient and impartial and, no matter you do, keep away from blaming or bad-talking anybody else. You may merely state the details as they occurred, with out opinionated phrases, or you can take duty for a few of the battle tactfully, displaying self-awareness and management in your half. Then clarify the duty, or what you have been chargeable for doing on this scenario. Subsequent, record particular steps and processes you tried so as to remedy the battle, reminiscent of assembly with colleagues for open dialogue and utilizing your empathetic listening skills to clear up a misunderstanding. Lastly, give the outcomes of your efforts, even when they didn’t work as you’d hoped, and the teachings you took with you. Keep in mind, you are displaying your course of and reflection afterward, not making an attempt to show that you’re good.

2. Inform me a couple of time you skilled a setback and the way you handled it

This query is an indicator of resilience, Thompson says. Somebody with excessive EQ tends to use setbacks to be taught and in the end achieve the benefit of latest data about themselves, others, and office processes that can assist them keep away from comparable points and set them up to succeed the following time round. These with low EQ may wallow for an prolonged time, blame others, strive to change the circumstances, or fail to see the lesson or the larger image.

Future employers searching for excessive EQ try to see how you reacted to the setback within the second: Did you get agitated and snap at your coworker? Did you let the issue fester and develop as a result of you didn’t need to cope with it? Or did you deal with it gracefully and see it as a studying alternative for you and your crew? If you can select a time when a setback really resulted in a greater consequence, or led to an improved course of sooner or later, all the higher. As soon as once more, you can use the STAR methodology to construction your answer—simply keep away from talking negatively about your colleagues and don’t neglect to emphasize the outcomes and learnings.

3. How do you reply when a coworker challenges you in a gathering?

A key factor to EQ is figuring out when you really feel your self getting upset and strategically selecting what to do about it, when, and the way, as an alternative of going together with your first knee-jerk response. This query is the right alternative for future employers to perceive how you assess and handle a scenario, says Kimberly Prescott, president of Prescott HR, a consulting agency for small to midsize companies. How you answer this interview query reveals your potential to regulate your feelings when the stakes are excessive and the scenario is charged, Prescott says. “If they are saying, ‘If I do know I’m proper I’m going to make sure that folks perceive it,'” that communicates one sort of worker, she says, versus another person who says, for instance, “I make sure that I let folks know the factors I have and that I perceive they may make their selections primarily based on all the knowledge they have, and I’m all the time accessible for questions.” Prescott watches out for somebody who’s “simply pissed off who might strive to shove their opinion down peoples’ throats.”

To succeed at speaking EQ in your answer, ideally decide an actual instance (you can flip to the STAR methodology but once more) and don’t shrink back from explaining the feelings you did really feel on the time. Keep in mind, EQ isn’t an absence of feelings however relatively the flexibility to regulate and deal with them in a productive approach. To that finish, if you have been harassed or indignant that you have been being publicly questioned, you can say so, however then take the interviewer by means of your private means of managing these feelings. Possibly you apply deep breaths. Possibly you take a stroll and reengage later. Or maybe on this explicit scenario, you requested a query to make clear if the tone you have been sensing was really what the individual supposed, which exhibits you’re in a position to pause and guarantee you absolutely perceive earlier than reacting, a key trait for future staff at any firm.

4. When you begin a brand new job, how do you adapt to your work atmosphere?

Folks with excessive EQ put money into relationships with their bosses and coworkers from day one. In case your answer focuses broadly on relationship constructing relatively than narrowly on getting up to velocity by yourself duties, that demonstrates you worth teamwork and understand your tasks received’t occur in a vacuum. As well as, your answer will give your interviewer a way of your self-awareness and skill to learn social cues in a brand new setting, which is usually a nerve-racking expertise.

You may reference different instances when you’ve been in a brand new atmosphere, and talk about methods you built-in seamlessly into the crew and its mission. For instance, you may talk about how you pay attention and observe to perceive the corporate’s values in addition to particular person personalities and crew dynamics earlier than inserting your opinion or making an attempt to change route. And maybe you’d say that you like to schedule one-on-one time with people in your direct crew in addition to anybody else you’ll be working intently with to get to know them and what they do.

Your interviewer may additionally be enthusiastic about what your answer says about your work style—and the way nicely you’d mesh with the prevailing crew. Finally, one of the best answer for such a query is one which displays your genuine self to guarantee it’s a match with the corporate atmosphere.

5. Describe your strengths and weaknesses

You may nearly assure most interviews will have some type of this query, whether or not it’s about your “best weak spot” or each strengths and weaknesses. Regardless, it’s much less concerning the chosen power or weak spot itself, and extra about your honesty, self-awareness, potential to take suggestions, and motivation to pursue development.


Right here, too, you can carry your answer to life by telling a narrative a couple of power or a weak spot in motion, reminiscent of when the previous helped you meet an enormous purpose or land a significant consumer deal or when the latter prevented you from doing so. Simply don’t neglect to get to the “so what?” a part of your answer. That may imply explaining why the power you talked about makes you such a terrific match for this explicit position or speaking by means of what steps you’re taking to additional your improvement in an space that wants enchancment.

6. What are your methods for protecting work-life stability?

At a time when staff report experiencing burnout at high rates, this query is important to show you worth your individual psychological well being and shall be caring for your self. From the interviewer’s perspective, not solely do they care about their staff’ well-being in and of itself, however your success additionally means you’ll be extra productive in the long term, assist foster a wholesome and optimistic atmosphere, and be much less of a flight danger.

So take this query significantly relatively than joking about how you love to work greater than something. You may exhibit your excessive EQ by means of self-awareness: Do you know what you want so as to do your job nicely for the lengthy haul? Possibly you’ve been engaged on a quick meditation course of that helps you succeed when you incorporate it into your each day routine in addition to in traumatic work moments. Or go forward and share a hobby you take pleasure in exterior of labor—perhaps path operating helps you destress or scrapbooking serves as the right outlet to your creativity—which is able to have the additional advantage of creating you appear to be an actual individual and presumably extra memorable as nicely.

7. What evokes you?

Interviews don’t have to be all battle and setbacks and weaknesses. They may also be the right place to show simply how passionate you are about your work, together with previous and future tasks. Having the ability to answer such a query demonstrates you are enthusiastic about your individual future deliberately, relatively than floating by means of your profession half-heartedly, which will get to the guts of an applicant’s EQ, says Janine Nicole Dennis, founder and chief innovation officer of Talent Think Innovations, a enterprise technique and administration consulting agency devoted to serving to companies and people understand their potential.

As an alternative of presenting your self as a “caricature” of what you assume the interviewer is searching for to get a job, Dennis says, you ought to give attention to authenticity, which is far more sustainable than being pretend anyway. Plus, giving an trustworthy and emotionally clever answer can show your interviewer what you actually care about and why this position could be so fulfilling.

Attempt zeroing in on a undertaking or sort of labor you’ve executed that you discovered actually thrilling and satisfying, ideally the kind of work you’d be doing for the corporate or one thing adjoining to it. For instance, if you’re interviewing to your first nursing place within the pediatrics division of a hospital, you might discuss concerning the volunteer work you did with a company for teenagers with uncommon illnesses that impressed you to go to nursing faculty within the first place. How you discuss concerning the undertaking is extra essential than what it’s, so go forward and provides particular anecdotes of memorable moments that mattered to you and let your voice and physique language replicate how you really feel—a part of EQ in spite of everything is being in contact together with your feelings and having the ability to convey them to others.

8. What’s one thing you’ve executed previously 12 months to develop professionally?

If you hesitate in answering this, it’s potential that you want to work on furthering your emotional intelligence. This query won’t seem like EQ on the floor, Thompson says, nevertheless it “exhibits the individual has a studying orientation and appears at themselves and may be self-reflective.” People who find themselves introspective and in tune with their very own feelings and strengths and weaknesses are in a position to overtly establish and convey what they’re doing to enhance themselves, each personally and professionally.

Don’t answer this query by discussing necessary coaching, Thompson says. As an alternative, talk about one thing you initiated by yourself, reminiscent of a convention you attended of your individual volition, a ebook you learn on a trending subject within the area, networking you did that become a useful skilled relationship, or intentional steps you took at work to hone a particular talent (sharpening your information expertise, as an illustration, by placing collectively weekly social media marketing campaign studies and presenting them to your crew in an everyday assembly). And no matter you determine to speak about, give it context by telling the interviewer the way it matches in your bigger plan towards skilled development. For instance, perhaps you’re studying books by a wide range of leaders in your area to get an thought of what sort of chief you need to develop into as you develop into extra senior roles.

9. What would you do if you observed a coworker was battling their work?

The second facet of EQ is to lengthen your understanding of the ability of feelings to others and to use that consciousness to rally your crew or office towards success. Prescott explains that it’s significantly important within the wake of the coronavirus pandemic—and as a few of us return to in-person workplaces—that we have an consciousness of our personal feelings in addition to the flexibility to learn and reply to others’ feelings. “Persons are coping with so many issues…you by no means know what degree of trauma,” she says. You need to “have the option to learn different folks and establish, ‘Oh, I’m taking place the mistaken path with this individual…perhaps I shouldn’t say or do this.'”

When you’re answering this query, it’s essential to illustrate concrete steps you would take to assist a coworker who’s struggling, Thompson says, and to additionally emphasize that it might not be a sign of their skills. For instance, you may speak about how you’d ask the coworker how issues have been going for them in a judgment-free dialog, exterior of the stressors of a piece assembly and even the workday. Folks with the next EQ are additionally in a position to establish when others want options versus only a listening ear, so discussing your potential to distinguish between the 2 can be useful. Don’t neglect to inform a particular story, if you can, and to make use of the STAR methodology to guarantee you cowl all of the essential parts.

10. How are you most definitely to be misunderstood by others?

This query is about displaying your consciousness of the vibes you postpone in a office atmosphere and your understanding of your affect on others. As an illustration, “If you are actually passionate, they could understand that as overwhelming,” Thompson says. “If you are quiet, folks might imagine you are unassertive.”

As an alternative of caring about what observations folks have made about you previously (and what your potential employer might consider them), talk about them overtly in addition to what you are doing to mitigate potential misunderstandings. For instance, if you’re fairly quiet, and previously others have requested you what’s mistaken, you might talk about how your cautious and considerate strategy can come off as disinterested, however that you’ve actively labored on asking questions early on to guarantee your colleagues know you’re listening and invested from the beginning, even when you want time to course of earlier than giving significant perception.

Fast Suggestions for Demonstrating EQ in an Interview (and a Few Errors to Keep away from)

You may show off your emotional intelligence all through your interview by:

  • Integrating examples of EQ in most of your solutions: You don’t have to be immediately requested about emotional intelligence to show your reflective nature, concern for others, and the way in which you use these qualities to improve an organization’s environment and success. In actual fact, you’ve most likely gleaned by now that the phrases “emotional intelligence” or “EQ” are unlikely to show up explicitly, even in questions that assist interviewers assess these expertise. So make sure that you weave them in at any time when you can—any time you’re telling a narrative about teamwork or collaboration, for instance.
  • Asking questions: This exhibits initiative, drive, and confidence, and gives the look that you’re conscious of the type of atmosphere you can thrive in and contribute to and are interviewing them to guarantee it’s a terrific match.
  • Balancing confidence and humility: It’s a tough line to stroll, however folks with robust EQ know their price and talk it clearly with out coming off as cocky. Attempt to give teammates and former managers credit score wherever potential, an indication of excessive EQ.
  • Not striving for perfection—it’s not a factor: Your future employers know you aren’t good, so as an alternative go for actual. By striving to interview like a human, not a robotic, your future boss will see you as somebody whose introspection, want to additional your self, and attunement to others is not going to solely assist you thrive, but additionally assist your crew and firm succeed.
  • Bringing particular, solutions-oriented examples: Greater than anything, leaders love when staff show up with not just a problem, but a solution. Show that is the kind of worker you’ll be primarily based in your EQ skills to learn the room, perceive social cues, and enhance the crew.

And ensure you keep away from these common pitfalls that may convey decrease EQ:

  • Dangerous-talking former bosses and coworkers: The very last thing you need to do in an interview is throw somebody beneath the bus. It may give interviewers the sense that you’re not self-aware sufficient to understand the position you might have performed in a scenario, are insensitive to others’ factors of view, or in any other case wrestle to work nicely together with your colleagues. It can also put you in an ungainly place in case your future worker is aware of that previous boss you’re bad-mouthing, as leaders typically run in the identical circles inside an business.
  • Ignoring social cues: Concentrate to your interviewer’s body language that signifies, for instance, that you’ve been speaking too lengthy on one subject. You don’t need your conduct in an interview to recommend that you might not be attuned to others’ feelings.
  • Being cagey about weaknesses: Folks with excessive EQ know their weaknesses nicely, as well as to what they’re doing to enhance them.

You don’t have to be an professional in EQ to get a job, however you do want a way of self-awareness and the flexibility to learn others. You may exhibit merely that you have a learner’s mindset—you don’t know every thing and all the time need to be taught extra. And when doubtful, search to be your most genuine and optimistic self to guarantee a real match with the corporate.

This article initially appeared on The Muse and is reprinted with permission.