In this blog series, we’ve talked about what emotional intelligence (EI) is, and how to demonstrate yours in your written career communications. We’ve also talked about how to improve your EI. Now it’s time to explore how to share your EI strengths via interviews.
Employers recognize that emotions in the workplace are important. They therefore use behavioral questions and additional techniques (panel interviews, multiple interviews, assessments, candidate observers) to help them discern a candidate’s EI skills.
To demonstrate yours in phone interviews, consider:
- Emotion is conveyed via speech tone that rises and falls and hastens or slows, so modulate your voice tone and pick up your verbal pace when you want to infuse your answers with more enthusiasm.
- Sales pros will tell you that they can connect with prospects more powerfully standing up, so conduct the phone interview on your feet.
- To add warmth to your conversation, add quick shots of appropriate humor (keep it neutral though, like a humorous comment on the weather, make a sympathetic observation about the interviewer (“you must be snowed under with interviews these days”), or smile (smiles impact your voice tone and speed and can be “felt” through the phone line).
- Stress communicates itself quite readily on the phone, so when you receive unexpected job-related calls, have a quiet place in the house you can quickly move to. Keep a notebook, paper, and a pen/pencil handy for notes. In your notebook, track resume submissions, keep copies of job postings you’re pursuing, and organize yourself so you can find their job posting in seconds. Have a list of questions ready that you can ask when invited for interviews (how many other candidates will be interviewed, how many interviewers will be present, may I access a copy of the job decription prior to the interview). Also have your personal commercials and “tell me about yourself” responses written down. And yes, you can do all this in your computer or a smart phone, but what will impact will it have on your stress level when one of these fails to work or is unavailable? The low-tech method may not be sexy, but it is reliable, particularly if you take your notebook with you wherever you go.
- Because you can be sure to be asked 1 or more behavioral interview questions, be prepared with 2-3 PAR/CAR stories (problem/challenge – action – results) that demonstrate times you have resolved interpersonal conflict, managed stress, marshaled the emotions of others, or overcome negativity in the workplace.
To demonstrate your emotional intelligence strengths in face-to-face interviews, consider:
- Color is a powerful way to convey emotion. Think about the impact you want to have in an interview and wear the appropriate colors to help you catalyze that impact.
- It’s tough to shake your interviewer’s hand (avoid the damp fish-shake at all costs), smile at them, look them right in the eye, and respond to their introduction without repeating yourself. So practice your handshake – smile – eye contact – response act. A lot.
- Voice tone and speed are important face-to-face, too, so modulate your voice and monitor your speed. Always make eye contact when you are making an important point.
- Want to appear indifferent in an interview? Don’t pay attention to your interview, slouch in your chair, and slump your shoulders. Of course, if you want to appear interested, you’ll have to make eye contact when your interviewer is saying something important, smile and nod your head when you agree with something they say, sit up straight in your chair (Mom was right after all), and keep your shoulders back. These postural habits will help you stay focused and alert and help you avoid feeling too relaxed. The more relaxed you are in an interview, the more likely you are to make a mistake that will cost you the job.
- You will encounter a lot of behavioral interview questions in face-to-face or panel interviews, so you’ll need even more PAR/CAR stories prepared. In addition to those already mentioned, consider developing examples that prove your abilities to establish a team vision, win buy-in for a change initiative, champion achievement of a corporate goal, instill confidence in or motivate others, deal with disappointment, cultivate success out of failure, and make unpopular decisions.
- Not all interviews are one-on-one. Increasingly, employers are using group interviews (you and small group of candidates with a group of interviewers), serial interviews (you with a series of interviewers), and panel interviews (you with a group of interviewers at one time). Prepare strategies for each of these interview types.
– Group Interviews: Strive not to out-perform your peers but to build on “team” interview responses. Make sure you find ways to contribute unique-to-you content to the interview.
– Serial Interviews: Make your interview responses consistent, but do not repeat yourself in each interview – your interviewers will compare notes, so vary the examples and stories you use. Collect the contact info and full names of each person you meet; send each a personalized thank you note after the interview.
– Panel Interviews: Choose a seat that gives you equal eye contact with all interviewers. Share your eye contact with everyone at the table as you speak, and use interviewer names when possible and appropriate. Look for ways to establish a connection with each person in the group – even those who are silent observers.
- Use handouts, portfolios, or presentation tools such as PowerPoint to convey additional information about yourself: quotes about your performance, quotes that exemplify your values, case studies, charts/graphs, photos, achievements, metric performance, word cloud of your resume, reference mini-interviews, mini-bio, lists of relevant skills you possess with a ratings system, and so on.
While we’ve barely scratched the surface in this 3-part blog post on ways to demonstrate your emotional intelligence in your job search, I hope you found a few ideas you can implement immediately. I’d love to hear what you did and how it went.
Here’s to your emotionally-rich interview performance!