The emotional side to every interview

Jun 3, 2015

And how working on your emotional intelligence can help you succeed in it

There is an emotional side to every interview – after all, if the interviewer doesn’t warm to you it is highly unlikely you’ll get the job even if you have all the right grades and experience. This is because part of the criteria for getting a job is whether or not you fit into a workplace: an employer will reject you at the first hint that your actions and behaviour will create a toxic work environment, so you need to click with the interviewer from the start.

Given the significance of the emotions in influencing the outcome of an interview a graduate looking for their first job could really improve their chances if they invested a little effort into developing their emotional intelligence. Working on your emotional intelligence can help you win the job.

Your emotional intelligence is one way for the interviewer to demonstrate that you have what it takes to get along with others. It will show whether you possess the ability to find solutions to day to day workplace woes when you join the company.

EQ vs IQ in the workplace

We all know the term “IQ” – Intelligence Quotient, the rubric used to measure someone’s ability to reason, but some scientists and psychologists are positing that a person’s “EQ” – Emotional Quotient – is just as important to your job success.

Your EQ is important in three main ways:

  1. It affects your ability to be aware of your own emotions – and to manage them when they threaten to burst forth in inappropriate ways.
  2. Your EQ helps you to recognise and understand the emotions of others.
  3. Further to this, your EQ allows you to relate to others’ emotions (not necessarily agree or condone them, but understand why they are occurring) and choose your own actions accordingly.

By its very nature the workplace is a scene of ranging (and sometimes raging) emotional activity. With daily challenges like deadlines to be met, contracts to be won and customers to pacify, emotions will always come into play. Your Emotional Intelligence Quotient will allow you to relate to others in a vast array of contexts and scenarios and could mean the difference between success and failure.

What are the benefits of a high EQ in the workplace?

A person with a high level of emotional intelligence is able to assess the situation that they are in and make a calm, level headed decision about what to do next. If they are angry with a colleague, they may be more likely to ask to speak to that person in private and clearly communicate their issue – rather than retaliating in a passive aggressive way later down the line (“Oh, I didn’t realise you needed that paper from me yesterday. Here it is – I guess you’ll have to stay late and miss the office drinks night.”)

An individual with a high level of emotional intelligence can diffuse conflict. Colleagues will know where they stand with you; your boss will feel confident you can be trusted with clients and customers, and you will be more likely to be considered when the opportunity to progress arises in the workplace.

Ways to increase your emotional intelligence in the workplace

Even if you’re someone who easily flies off the handle or who often says the wrong thing at the wrong time, you can still make subtle changes to increase your emotional intelligence.

  • Practise empathy. Remember, everyone is fighting their own battles. Do not jump to the worst case conclusion when someone disappoints you or lets you down.
  • Listen to people. Remember to look others in the eye and listen to them when they speak. Really think about what they are saying to you.
  • Seek the opinions of others. This is particularly helpful in team situations or when brainstorming. Don’t hog the limelight. Ask other people what they think, too.
  • Seek win-win. Always seek to end conflicts by seeking the best outcome for both sides.
  • Keep a journal. Journaling can help you get stuff off your chest and to evaluate how you are feeling.
  • Meditate or pray. The simple act of meditating or praying for ten minutes each morning can help you to increase your EQ, remain calm throughout the day and pause before you react negatively to a situation.
  • Speak to someone. If you have nagging emotional issues leftover from childhood or a traumatic event, consider speaking with a counselor or therapist to get to the bottom of the issue and heal old wounds.

While some people may be naturally more empathetic than others emotional intelligence is a social skill everyone can develop and improve, so keep working at it.

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