How to measure EQ while hiring

People high on EQ manage to keep their feelings in check, which prevents others from being thrown off balance or losing their calm at work.


For leadership positions, emotional intelligence is a significant factor to look out for in candidates.

To achieve success at the workplace, everyone has to get along and support each other. It is natural to feel happy, sad, excited or angry during the course of work. The key is to understand one’s emotions well and express them in a way that is healthy and well received by others.

Some people always manage to maintain a calm demeanour at work. They are not work-loving robots, but simply emotionally-intelligent people. Emotional intelligence, also known as emotional quotient or EQ is the ability to understand, use and manage one’s emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively, empathise with others to diffuse conflict and overcome challenges.  People high on EQ manage to keep their feelings in check, which prevents others from being thrown off balance or losing their calm at work. This is an important skill to look for when one is hiring for leadership positions.

Tanvi Choksi

If one is hiring for leadership positions, then emotional intelligence is an important factor to consider

Companies want to prevent employee conflicts and hiring emotionally intelligent people is one of the best ways to do so. However, unlike skills and work experience, it is difficult to screen individuals for their ability to manage their feelings. Therefore, companies do not specifically look for emotional intelligence. That explains the presence of less emotionally-intelligent people in the workplace —employers hire for pedigree and skills.

According to a 2018, World Economic Forum report, emotional intelligence is one of the in-demand skills and will remain so till 2022. Talking about the future skilling needs, the report mentions that apart from technological competence, human skills such as creativity, originality, persuasion and negotiation skills will retain or increase in value. “Emotional intelligence, leadership, social influence as well as service orientation have also see an outsized increase in demand, relative to their current prominence,” reveals the report.

While we do need smart, experienced people in companies, we also need people who are adept at dealing with change, understand and motivate others and manage both positive and negative emotions to create an environment where everyone can be at their best.

Despite doing a battery of tests during the hiring process, one may not know of way to determine the EQ of a person. Moreover, most of the supposedly sought-after qualities in a candidate are of a nature that cannot be gauged from a CV.

Anil Mohanty

There are a variety of tools that one can use which give a good indication of a person’s emotional intelligence

One of the ways employers can screen for EQ is by asking specific questions during a reference check — pointed questions about how the candidate demonstrated various competencies while handling people, and specific examples relating to how they treated people.

It is possible to check for EQ even during the interview process. This may sound routine and easy and many may think they are already doing this, but many may not. If the responses are vague and the employers fail to ask good follow-up questions, then there is no way to assess EQ. Moreover, directly asking the candidate about EQ-related competencies may cause them to produce an overly idealised notion of themselves — what they would prefer to be rather than who they actually are every day.

This is where behavioural event interviews can come into play.

Anil Mohanty, head-HR, Medikabazaar, says, “There are a variety of tools that one can use, such as psychometric tests and competency interviews, which give a good indication of a person’s emotional intelligence.”

Behavioural Event Interviewing (BEI) is a technique that asks the candidates to describe a situation or personal experience from a previous job. In this case, the past performance is assumed to predict future performance.

This interview technique allows one to ask for and hear details about how the candidate thinks in situations that involve stress, challenges, and other people. Employers can learn about the feelings of the candidates during typical situations. This helps gauge whether the candidates are actually aware of their own feelings. Employers are also likely to get to know how they individuals managed their feelings, and the extent to which they were aware of their impact on others. All of these measure up to EQ.

A stress interview is yet another way to assess a person’s EQ. As the name reveals, it is an interviewing style that companies use to gauge a candidate’s response to stress. It provides the hiring team an idea of how the candidates will respond, while juggling various high-priority tasks, or dealing with challenging clients, or facing a difficult co-worker or manager.

Tanvi Choksi, head-HR, JLL India, concludes, “If one is hiring for leadership positions, then emotional intelligence is an important factor to consider.”


  1. Hi Arindam,

    I am a trainer who helps assessing the existing levels of EQ and how it can be improved. If you are interested in the subject, I can write an article like ” tools and Techniques to measure and improve EQ”

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