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Emotional Intelligence: Useful, Telling, and In Demand

As the job market changes and the skills shortage in various sectors becomes more wide-spread, employers are needing to think outside the box when seeking talent. As a result,  soft skills are becoming more important than ever in a prospective candidate; having great communication skills, for example, is a trait sought by just about every employer across industries, regardless of the position they are filling. Common soft skills can also include interpersonal skills; leadership skills, and adaptability; however, there’s another that’s gradually climbing its way to the top in desirability: emotional intelligence.

What Does Emotional Intelligence Look Like?

Emotional intelligence, unlike other soft skills, can be hard to pin down. Rather than describing it as a singular skill, emotional intelligence is a characteristic that is often both the cause and effect of a number of soft skills—which is why employers are so eager for emotionally intelligent candidates.

An emotionally intelligent person is often:

  • Self-aware
  • Motivated
  • Passionate
  • Social and receptive
  • Observant
  • Flexible

These are a number of desirable traits in any candidate. To top it off, being emotionally intelligent usually requires that a person take serious time to self-reflect on a regular basis, which means an emotionally intelligent candidate will be more likely to acknowledge his or her mistakes and identify areas for improvement.

Is An Employer Assessing Your Emotional Intelligence?

If you’re called in for an interview, you could very well be facing an employer who is looking specifically for an emotionally intelligent candidate. Usually a hiring manager gauges emotional intelligence through questions and topics that pinpoint your interaction with other coworkers in past positions, such as how you resolve conflict, or how you’ve resolved a mistake you made in the past.

Many other common interview questions assess your emotional intelligence by gauging your self-awareness. Such questions include:

  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why should I hire you?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

If you are asked any of these questions in an interview, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the employer is specifically evaluating your emotional intelligence, but your answers can still be strategized to show you possess the trait.

How To Show You’re Emotionally Intelligent

There are a number of ways to show off your emotional intelligence in an interview, so it should be easy to do so regardless of what direction the meeting is going in. For example, if asked about past conflicts with a colleague, you’ll have an excellent opportunity—but if the question never arises, it’s okay to forgo that route for something that feels more natural to the flow of the interview. Instead, consider discussing how you collaborated with others in past assignments, using concrete examples and results if possible.

You can also tell a story that details your adaptability, motivation, or any of the other characteristics listed above. By showing the interviewer you have these characteristics through past practices, rather than simply stating you have certain skills, he or she can develop a more detailed picture of you as a professional and better determine your emotional intelligence.

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