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The elusive skill set of Emotional Intelligence

by Elsie Rutterford May 03, 2012

​We’re often asked by our clients to look for candidates with that extra spark, that oomph that goes further than academic achievement, work experience or general intellect. It’s that intangible Emotional Intelligence, or EI, that they’re after and that is for us, one of the hardest things to measure. You can’t see it on a CV and you can’t quite explain it, but if somebody has high EI you just know.

Emotional Intelligence is described by Wikipedia as ‘the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups’ and is imperative in finding and securing a job, as well as then going on to succeed in an organisation.

A recent Forbes article by professor Keld Jensen states that psychologists have ‘found that people would rather do business with a person they like and trust rather than someone they don’t, even if the likeable person is offering a lower quality product or service at a higher price.’ Relationships play a key part in business and EI plays a huge part in relationships, so it’s easy to see how the two interlink.

Jensen also says that EI can be ‘elusive and difficult to measure’ but that its ‘significance is far greater than IQ.’ How then, can you ensure you’re using such an elusive skill set when interviewing for your dream role?

FreshMinds’ Top Tips to EI success:

1. Get to grips with your emotions

Cheesy? Slightly. Worthwhile? Definitely. This is all about self-awareness and is a crucial part of being able to understand how your behaviour affects those around you – and then use this to your advantage. Have a think about your key personality traits and experiences you’ve had with them in the past. Are you somebody that has an infectious positive attitude? Use this in your interview!

2. Understand your goals and what you’re hoping to achieve

Take some time to do this before you embark on a job search. What really makes you tick? What motivates you and what do you find uninspiring? Once you understand this, you’ll have an easy time allowing others to do the same. You’ll be able to articulate what you’re looking for and marry this with the way you express yourself.

3. Understand those around you

Be aware of your interviewer, their tone and communication style, then adapt yours accordingly. Now we’re not suggesting you mimic their every move, but on a subtle level ensure that your communication style is appropriate. So, if their tone and language is corporate and professional, using colloquial language and a laid-back stance isn’t going to land you the role.

Equally, pick up on their body language and how they are reacting to you. For example, during your answers, if they stop taking notes, look at their watch or try to interrupt you, take it as a hint that you’ve said enough!

Image credit: alamosbasement on Flickr

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