A Closer Look Into the Meaning of Emotional Intelligence

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Posted by The Editors on July 18, 2011
A Closer Look Into the Meaning of Emotional Intelligence

Last week I blogged about the use of behavioral interview questions by employers. I thought it would be helpful to continue along the same lines this week by looking at another technique interviewers are using to get to the core of your personality—and one that Julie touched upon in a previous post. In an attempt to determine who you are and how you’ll fair if hired, many employers are testing candidates for their emotional intelligence.

In case you’re not familiar, dictionary.com lists the definition of emotional intelligence as a “skill in perceiving, understanding, and managing emotions and feelings.” Essentially, your emotional intelligence comes down to how aware you are of your own emotions and those of others and your ability to manage emotions in a professional setting. This falls within the “soft skills” category that are all the rage these days.

You can find one of these tests here: http://testyourself.psychtests.com/testid/3038

Many large employers, such as Microsoft and Deutsche Bank, go so far as to use similar tests that yield a emotional quotient. Like behavioral interview job questions, these tests intend to ascertain more about who you are than the facts and figures on your rap sheet.

Of course it’s not enough to just have the skills, experience, and training that match a position’s requirements. Rather, it’s important to be able to fit in with the culture and be able to relate to people in effective manner in order to get the job done.

But these tests can be problematic because they assume your answering questions honestly. Unlike an IQ test, the answer can’t be derived from logical or analytical ability. For example, it’s pretty clear what the “preferred” response would be to the following: “If asked to list my top three strengths, I would have hard time coming up with them.”

So the important thing is to be aware that you may face one of these emotional intelligence tests and know the kinds of characteristics employers are trying to discover about you. Professional coaching, training, and leadership firm Catalyst Coaching defines emotional intelligence competencies as self-awareness, assertiveness, independence, empathy, interpersonal relationships, adaptability, problem solving, stress management and general mood.

The fact that employers go far as to implement these emotional tests in the recruiting process should be a good indicator that they are hungry for the kind of job candidates that display this kind of traits. Think about how you can hone in on and convey these valued attributes when relaying professional experiences. Demonstrating the ability to step back from a problem and attempt to find a solution with some degree of objectivity, as opposed to, for example, getting mired in emotion, office politics, or personal frustrations, will always be a valued skill. 

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