Using Emotional Intelligence for Interview Success

Demonstrating high Emotional Intelligence in workplace is all the rage in the job market these days. In a 2011 Career Builder Survey of more than 2,600 hiring managers and human resource professionals, 71% stated they valued emotional intelligence in an employee over IQ; 75% said they were more likely to promote a highly emotionally intelligent worker; and 59% claimed they’d pass up a candidate with a high IQ but low emotional intelligence.

This trend will only continue to emerge. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report, emotional intelligence will be one of the top 10 job skills in 2020.

So what is emotional intelligence? 

Well, it's a number of things. It includes a high amount of self-awareness (strong understanding of your impact on others, awareness of how your emotions and inner feelings influence your outward demeanor, and the ability to accurately assess your actions, reactions, and impact) and self-management (appropriate emotional expression, courage and assertiveness, resilience, awareness in the present moment, and planning tone). 

Here are some questions you may get in an interview to assess your level of Emotional Intelligence: 

Impact on Others

  • Tell me about a time you did or said something that had a negative impact on a coworker, customer, or employee. What did you do when you were made aware of the situation?

  • Can you think of a time when someone interpreted something you said or did in a negative way, even though you didn't intend for it to me negative? Tell me about that, and how you handled it.

  • Have you ever noticed that someone at work was having a bad day? How did you know? What did you do?

Emotional and Inner Awareness

  • Describe a time you were aware that your mood was affecting how you were behaving at work.

  • Tell me about a time you purposely prepared yourself to deal with a situation that you knew would be negative. What did you do? How did it work out?

  • Tell me about a time when something that you had responsibility for at work didn't go well. Whose fault was it?

Accurate Self-Assessment

  • Describe a time when you received feedback about your performance and were in agreement. What did you agree with?

  • Where you ever surprised by criticism you received? What was the criticism and why were you surprised?

  • List three things you learned about yourself in the last year that are relevant to the way you work. How did you learn this information? Describe a time you used this new information.

Emotional Expression

  • Describe some things that make you angry or frustrated at work. Tell me what you do in those situations.

  • Tell me about a time when you were angry with someone at work. What did you do?

  • Tell me about a time when you had too much to do at work and it was causing you to feel stressed. What did you do?

Courage and Assertiveness

  • Tell me about a time you spoke up about something in the workplace. What was the issue? Why did you speak up about it? What did you say? What did others think?

  • Has there ever been a situation at work where you wish you had said something in a meeting or encounter but didn't? Tell me about that.

  • Tell me about a time when you knew that you were told to do something you thought was not a good idea. What did you do?


  • Tell me about a time you felt that you were defeated at work. What did you do?

  • Tell me about a time you felt like giving up on something. What did you do?

  • Talk about the last time you were criticized at work. How did that go?

Awareness in the Moment

  • Tell me about a time when you realized that you weren't speaking up during a meeting. What did you do?

  • Tell me about a time when you realized that something was best left unsaid. What did you do?

  • Describe a time when you realized that a conversation was not going well. What did you do?

Planning Tone

  • Describe a situation when you deliberately planned the tone of a particular conversation. How did you do that? What result did it have?

  • In your present job, can you tell me about some situations when you must think about how you are going to say something before saying it? What must you consider?

  • Describe a time you missed an opportunity to set the tone in a discussion. What happened?

Want to test your level of emotional intelligence? Psychology Today provides a free test with an option to pay for the full deep dive of results. It takes about 45 minutes. If you have an upcoming interview for a job you know highly values high Emotional Intelligence, it might be worth the $9.95 to glean some insight into your EQ! Any questions why emotional intelligence is important? Contact us here.