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How to Use Emotional Intelligence in a Job Interview

Activate Your Emotional Intelligence to Nail Your Next Job Interview


Congratulations! Scoring an interview confirms it: your credentials are turning heads. As you prepare, you're probably thinking through answers to interview questions, amassing references, and contemplating all you've learned from your current position — all great prep.

The interviewers already know you're well-qualified. But you want them to leave the room saying, "I need her on my team." That's where your emotional intelligence (or EQ) comes in.

What's the deal with EQ?

EQ guru Dr. Travis Bradberry explains: "Emotional intelligence is the 'something' in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions to achieve positive results."

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Nailing a job interview calls upon this "something." It's not just about answering questions. It's also about demonstrating fit. Here's how:

Forge connections

When you lead with your EQ, you view your interviewers not just as gatekeepers to something you want, but as actual people with whom you can connect. So think about connecting as much as impressing.

Break the ice by sharing your enthusiasm. You'll find it's infectious and will likely inspire your interviewers to share theirs. Do your research to find what makes this organization a unique and thrilling place to work. Also note factors about the environment that impress you. For example:

  • "I was blown away to see that there's an org-wide green policy. It must feel great to work for a socially conscious institution."
  • "Campus is electric when the students are changing classes. It must be inspiring to have that energy around you."
  • "I've always admired this beautiful building. It must be cool to work in such a beautiful space."

Genuine enthusiasm is an attractive quality, so find an angle that helps you muster it. You may also find that connecting with your interviewers helps quell your jitters.

Slow down

Embrace your role as interviewee. You may or may not get this job, but there's value in this meeting either way. Calm yourself. Breathe. If a drink is offered, accept that hospitality. Doing so reminds you to relax into the moment, and it adds an air of friendliness — which is how it should feel because this is just a group of professionals discussing an opportunity. It benefits both sides for this conversation to go well. It speaks well of the interviewers to foster a productive interview, just as it speaks well of the interviewee to participate in one. You have a shared and attainable goal.

Readjust your mindset

Instead of thinking: "I just have to get through this and make these important points," try thinking: "I'm having a conversation about an exciting opportunity that could be a fit for me." Aim to enjoy this experience. Isn't it awesome that you have a greater realm of jobs open to you than you did the last time you searched? Look how much more you qualify for now!

An interview is just a conversation. You're not getting weighed for your worth as a human being. The job you're discussing may be one you really need or want, and that may tempt you to throw desperation at the project. But putting that hurdle in your way won't help. Get comfortable in your skin and in the situation — from that vantage point, you're much more inclined to enact your best work.

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