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Emotional intelligence interview questions (and answers)

25 Emotional intelligence interview questions to find out how empathetic your candidates are at work

25 good emotional intelligence interview questions

  1. How do you define emotional intelligence, and why is it essential in the workplace?
  2. Describe a situation when you effectively demonstrated empathy towards a colleague or team member going through a challenging time.
  3. How do you handle emotions, such as frustration or disappointment, when faced with setbacks or challenges in your work?
  4. Share an example of a time when you effectively controlled your emotions during a high-pressure situation or conflict.
  5. How do you handle receiving constructive feedback or criticism from colleagues or supervisors?
  6. Describe a time when you effectively resolved a conflict or misunderstanding by actively listening to others’ perspectives.
  7. How do you handle stress or pressure from tight deadlines or demanding projects while maintaining a positive attitude?
  8. Share an example of a time when you effectively managed your emotions during a difficult conversation or negotiation.
  9. How do you handle emotions when providing feedback to team members to ensure it is delivered constructively?
  10. Describe a time when you effectively recognised and managed emotions in a team setting to maintain a positive atmosphere.
  11. How do you handle emotions when faced with unexpected changes or uncertainty in the workplace?
  12. Share an example of a time when you effectively used emotional intelligence to de-escalate a tense situation or conflict.
  13. How do you handle emotions when receiving recognition or praise for your work from colleagues or superiors?
  14. Describe a time when you used emotional intelligence to mediate a conflict between two team members with differing opinions or personalities.
  15. How do you handle emotions when dealing with difficult or challenging clients or customers?
  16. Share an example of a time when you used emotional intelligence to build rapport and trust with a new team or colleagues quickly.
  17. How do you handle emotions when making tough decisions that may impact your team or colleagues?
  18. Describe a time when you effectively used emotional intelligence to handle feedback or criticism from a superior or client.
  19. How do you use emotional intelligence to motivate and inspire team members during challenging projects or periods?
  20. Share an example of a time when you used emotional intelligence to diffuse a tense team meeting or discussion.
  21. How do you handle emotions when receiving conflicting feedback or opinions from multiple sources?
  22. Describe a time when you effectively used emotional intelligence to navigate cultural differences and communicate effectively with international colleagues or clients.
  23. How do you handle emotions when facing unexpected personal challenges that may impact your work?
  24. Share an example of a time when you effectively used emotional intelligence to address a team member’s performance issues sensitively and constructively.
  25. How do you use emotional intelligence to build trust and collaboration with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and perspectives?

1. How do you define emotional intelligence, and why is it essential in the workplace?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who understand the importance of emotional intelligence in fostering positive relationships and effective communication.

 

Suggested answer:

“Emotional intelligence involves recognising and understanding emotions in oneself and others, and using that awareness to manage interactions effectively. It’s essential in the workplace to promote empathy, collaboration, and a positive work environment.”

2. Describe a situation when you effectively demonstrated empathy towards a colleague or team member going through a challenging time.

 

What to look for:

The candidate’s ability to show empathy and support towards others.

 

Suggested answer:

“A team member was dealing with a personal loss, so I approached them with empathy, offering support and flexibility with their workload. I made sure they knew they could rely on me for assistance during that difficult time.”

3. How do you handle emotions, such as frustration or disappointment, when faced with setbacks or challenges in your work?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can manage their emotions constructively in challenging situations.

 

Suggested answer:

“When facing setbacks, I acknowledge my emotions and take a moment to process them. I then focus on finding solutions and learn from the experience to improve in the future.”

4. Share an example of a time when you effectively controlled your emotions during a high-pressure situation or conflict.

 

What to look for:

Evidence of the candidate’s ability to remain composed under pressure.

 

Suggested answer:

¬†“During a high-pressure negotiation, I maintained composure by focusing on the facts and staying neutral. I was able to express my viewpoints confidently and find common ground with the other party.”

5. How do you handle receiving constructive feedback or criticism from colleagues or supervisors?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can accept feedback positively and use it for personal growth.

 

Suggested answer:

“When receiving constructive feedback, I listen attentively without becoming defensive. I view feedback as an opportunity to improve and appreciate the insights shared.”

6. Describe a time when you effectively resolved a conflict or misunderstanding by actively listening to others’ perspectives.

 

What to look for:

The candidate’s ability to use active listening to navigate conflicts.

 

Suggested answer:

“During a disagreement between team members, I actively listened to both sides to understand their perspectives fully. This allowed me to mediate the conflict and find a resolution that addressed everyone’s concerns.”

7. How do you handle stress or pressure from tight deadlines or demanding projects while maintaining a positive attitude?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can stay positive and focused during challenging situations.

 

Suggested answer:

“To manage stress from tight deadlines, I maintain a positive attitude and remind myself of past successes. I also seek support from colleagues and break tasks into manageable steps.”

8. Share an example of a time when you effectively managed your emotions during a difficult conversation or negotiation.

 

What to look for:

Evidence of the candidate’s emotional control in tough discussions.

 

Suggested answer:

“During a negotiation with a difficult stakeholder, I remained composed and focused on finding win-win solutions. I refrained from reacting emotionally and maintained a professional demeanour.”

9. How do you handle emotions when providing feedback to team members to ensure it is delivered constructively?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can provide feedback with empathy and tact.

 

Suggested answer:

“When giving feedback, I consider the other person’s feelings and focus on constructive criticism. I use ‘I’ statements to express observations and offer suggestions for improvement.”

10. Describe a time when you effectively recognised and managed emotions in a team setting to maintain a positive atmosphere.

 

What to look for:

The candidate’s ability to foster a positive team dynamic through emotional intelligence.

 

Suggested answer:

“During a challenging project, I noticed tension among team members. I initiated a team-building activity to boost morale and encouraged open communication to address concerns, fostering a positive atmosphere.”

11. How do you handle emotions when faced with unexpected changes or uncertainty in the workplace?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can manage emotions during times of ambiguity effectively.

 

Suggested answer:

“When dealing with uncertainty, I acknowledge my feelings and seek clarity on the situation. I focus on what I can control and adapt to the change with a positive mindset.”

12. Share an example of a time when you effectively used emotional intelligence to de-escalate a tense situation or conflict.

 

What to look for:

Evidence of the candidate’s ability to navigate conflicts with emotional intelligence.

 

Suggested answer:

“During a heated team discussion, I intervened with emotional intelligence, acknowledging each person’s feelings and concerns. I redirected the conversation to a productive path and helped find a compromise.”

13. How do you handle emotions when receiving recognition or praise for your work from colleagues or superiors?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can accept praise humbly and with gratitude

 

Suggested answer:

“When receiving recognition, I express gratitude and share credit with the team. I use the praise as motivation to continue performing at my best.”

14. Describe a time when you used emotional intelligence to mediate a conflict between two team members with differing opinions or personalities.

 

What to look for:

The candidate’s ability to bridge differences through emotional intelligence

 

Suggested answer:

“Two team members had conflicting personalities, leading to disagreements. I met with each individually to understand their perspectives, then facilitated a calm discussion where they found common ground.”

15. How do you handle emotions when dealing with difficult or challenging clients or customers?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can remain professional and empathetic in challenging client interactions.

 

Suggested answer:

“When working with difficult clients, I stay patient and actively listen to their concerns. I strive to understand their needs and address any issues proactively and professionally.”

16. Share an example of a time when you used emotional intelligence to build rapport and trust with a new team or colleagues quickly.

 

What to look for:

Evidence of the candidate’s ability to build relationships through emotional intelligence.

 

Suggested answer:

“When joining a new team, I took the time to get to know my colleagues personally, showing genuine interest in their experiences and perspectives. This helped build trust and rapport rapidly.”

17. How do you handle emotions when making tough decisions that may impact your team or colleagues?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can balance empathy with decisiveness in tough decisions.

 

Suggested answer:

“In difficult decisions, I consider the impact on my team or colleagues. While acknowledging emotions, I prioritise what’s best for the organisation and communicate decisions with transparency.”

18. Describe a time when you effectively used emotional intelligence to handle feedback or criticism from a superior or client.

 

What to look for:

Evidence of the candidate’s emotional resilience in the face of feedback.

 

Suggested answer:

“When receiving critical feedback, I remained open and receptive, focusing on learning from the experience. I used the feedback to grow professionally and enhance my performance.”

19. How do you use emotional intelligence to motivate and inspire team members during challenging projects or periods?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can use emotional intelligence to uplift their team’s morale.

 

Suggested answer:

“During challenging projects, I show empathy towards team members’ efforts and acknowledge their hard work. I provide encouragement and celebrate milestones to keep motivation high.”

20. Share an example of a time when you used emotional intelligence to diffuse a tense team meeting or discussion.

 

What to look for:

The candidate’s ability to manage emotions in group settings.

 

Suggested answer:

“In a tense team meeting, I remained calm and encouraged respectful communication. I redirected the focus towards finding solutions, de-escalating the tension.”

21. How do you handle emotions when receiving conflicting feedback or opinions from multiple sources?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can manage emotions when faced with contrasting viewpoints.

 

Suggested answer:

“When receiving conflicting feedback, I step back to objectively assess the information. I consider the context and seek additional insights to make informed decisions.”

22. Describe a time when you effectively used emotional intelligence to navigate cultural differences and communicate effectively with international colleagues or clients.

 

What to look for:

Evidence of the candidate’s cultural sensitivity through emotional intelligence.

 

Suggested answer:

“In a global project, I recognised cultural differences and adapted my communication style to build rapport with international colleagues. I emphasised active listening and understanding cultural norms.”

23. How do you handle emotions when facing unexpected personal challenges that may impact your work?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can manage personal challenges professionally while seeking support when needed.

 

Suggested answer:

“When dealing with personal challenges, I communicate transparently with my team and seek support from my supervisor if necessary. I prioritise self-care while maintaining my commitment to work.”

24. Share an example of a time when you effectively used emotional intelligence to address a team member’s performance issues sensitively and constructively.

 

What to look for:

The candidate’s ability to provide constructive feedback with emotional intelligence.

 

Suggested answer:

“During a performance discussion, I approached the team member with empathy, addressing concerns while highlighting areas of improvement. I offered support and resources to help them succeed.”

25. How do you use emotional intelligence to build trust and collaboration with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and perspectives?

 

What to look for:

Candidates who can leverage emotional intelligence to bridge gaps in diverse teams.

 

Suggested answer:

“In diverse teams, I use emotional intelligence to build trust by showing respect for different perspectives and creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels valued and heard.”

As with our other sets of questions, the suggested answers here are just examples, and you candidates should and will provide their own set of unique responses based on their past experiences. 

As a recruiter, focus on the candidate’s ability to recognise and understand emotions in themselves and others, manage emotions effectively, show empathy and build positive relationships with colleagues and clients.

Look for real-life examples that demonstrate their emotional intelligence and how they have positively impacted workplace interactions and relationships.

How to measure emotional intelligence skills?

Assessing emotional intelligence in candidates involves evaluating their self-awareness, empathy, relationship management, and overall capacity to thrive in collaborative environments.

 

Self-awareness:

Evaluate a candidate’s level of self-awareness by assessing their ability to recognise and understand their own emotions. Inquire about instances where they demonstrated introspection and insight into their emotional responses.

 

Emotional regulation:

Assess how well candidates manage their own emotions, especially in challenging or high-pressure situations. Look for examples where they effectively controlled emotional reactions to maintain composure.

 

Empathy:

Explore a candidate’s capacity for empathy, which involves understanding and sharing the feelings of others. Inquire about instances where they demonstrated sensitivity to the emotions and perspectives of colleagues or clients.

 

Social skills:

Effective emotional intelligence often translates into strong social skills. Assess a candidate’s ability to build and maintain positive relationships, communicate effectively, and collaborate within a team.

 

Conflict resolution:

Evaluate how candidates handle conflicts in relation to emotional intelligence. Inquire about instances where they successfully navigated conflicts by understanding and addressing the emotional components involved.

 

Adaptability:

Emotional intelligence contributes to adaptability. Assess a candidate’s ability to adjust to changing circumstances, accept feedback, and learn from experiences while maintaining emotional balance.

 

Leadership presence:

For leadership roles, evaluate a candidate’s leadership presence through emotional intelligence. Leaders with high emotional intelligence can inspire and motivate others, fostering a positive and collaborative work environment.

 

Cultural sensitivity:

In a diverse workplace, cultural sensitivity is essential. Assess a candidate’s awareness and respect for cultural differences, as individuals with high emotional intelligence tend to navigate diverse environments more effectively.

 

These points provide a framework for evaluating emotional intelligence in candidates, ensuring that they possess the interpersonal skills necessary for success in a collaborative and dynamic work environment.