Written by: Pauline Shahabian, Recruitment Consultant, WorkForce Cyprus


One’s emotional intelligence (EI) has long been a key determinant in the successful outcome of a job interview. The concept takes into account a person’s personal qualities, such as self-control, self-awareness, motivation, empathy, and social skills. In essence, EI is the ability to recognize, understand and manage our own emotions, as well as acknowledge and influence the emotions of others.

Now, you may ask, why is this so important to hiring managers and recruiters? To answer this, we need to understand exactly why EI is so vital in the workplace. In short – and feel free to disagree with me here – workers with high emotional IQ are able to more effectively work in team settings, as well as be able to better adjust to change. Regardless of how many formal degrees and certificates a person has, if he/she lacks certain emotional qualities, then they are not likely to succeed in an ever-changing business environment.

Obviously, skills and education are important to recruiters, but they would much rather hire a slightly less skilled worker who boasts high emotional intelligence than an A-grade skilled person who is lacking it. It is much easier and seamless for a company to teach technical skills to new employees – alas, on-the-job training is always expected – than to train them to manage their emotions. This is precisely why WorkFoce Cyprus takes a very active role in consulting companies on long-term hiring decisions – A hopeful applicant might seem great on paper but upon a personal meeting, it is determined that they lack the needed emotional intelligence in order to thrive in a specific working environment. This is not to say that they should automatically be passed over for the vacancy, but simply that another candidate with perhaps less experience or a less than stellar academic background should also be intently considered should they exhibit high emotional IQ.

How do recruiters use candidates’ emotional IQ in an interview you ask? It’s simple. You should be prepared to answer interview questions based around the following key areas/determinants;

Conflict: This relates to the common “Tell me about a time when something unexpected happened or went wrong during a project, and how you corrected it” question. This is your opportunity to provide examples of how you have solved problems, perhaps those who have risen during team work.

Self-awareness: Acknowledging that you are self-aware about both your positive and negative qualities goes a long way. You can indicate this by pointing out to the interviewer, for example, that you know you prefer working independently, but you make an effort to actively allocate duties and ask for others’ opinion during major projects.

Uncertainty: In an ever-changing business environment, employers need adaptable employees in their corner – Those who will not shy away from embracing change and s=continue to stay afloat. In this case, you should demonstrate times when you faced the unexpected and yet you persevered. The best examples are those of company restructuring, rebranding, strategy change brought on by rising competition, etc.


It is also important to note that certain companies opt to utilize emotional IQ tests at the very early stage of an interview. Many place major emphasis on your test score as a determinant of the continuation of your candidacy. You can find many practice tests online, and we advise that you try a few and use the results to assess yourself in an effort to succeed in the actual run.