The Soft Skill Every Hiring Manager Is Looking for Now
Why your EQ is just as important as your job history and interview answers
How would you rate your emotional intelligence?
It’s not necessarily a question that comes to mind when you think about what you might be asked during a job interview. It certainly doesn’t have the same notoriety as classics like “Tell me about yourself?” and “What’s your biggest weakness?” But it’s becoming increasingly common: Recently, several job-hunting friends and colleagues of mine have mentioned being asked this somewhat puzzling question, and not knowing exactly how to answer it. What is emotional intelligence, again? And how are you supposed to assess something like that in yourself, anyway? “I guess I’d give my emotional intelligence a seven out of 10? I deducted points because I can occasionally talk over people in meetings.”
It’s fair to be a little befuddled by the question at first. Emotional intelligence — better known in business circles as emotion quotient, or EQ — is notoriously difficult to suss out. But it’s also becoming one of the most desirable skills in employees. Here’s what you need to know.
Why EQ matters at work
EQ is the ability to leverage and control one’s emotions while navigating relationships and stressful situations. Having a high EQ means a person uses good judgment and empathy in equal measure, and it usually indicates someone who solves problems and handles stress well. This skill set is particularly valuable in today’s job market, in which technology is changing so rapidly that adaptability is key.
“The higher one’s EQ, the better one is able to manage their reactivity and operate from a position of strength,” says Shoshanna Hecht, an executive and personal career coach who’s also a clinical therapist. “This is grounding, keeps you out of panic mode, and helps you respond from a clearheaded space.” Research has shown a strong correlation between EQ and overall performance, and according to LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends report, 92% of hiring managers say soft skills like EQ matter as much, if not more, than hard skills like technical abilities.