Mastering Emotional Intelligence in Job Interviewing


Did you ever feel like you were in a job interview where you didn’t connect well with the hiring managers? 

Were some of their questions awkward and you didn’t know how to answer them? 

Did you think there wasn’t a good connection between what you were being asked and how you answered the questions?

If so, this could be a telltale sign that you weren’t invoking strong emotional intelligence. Perhaps, your emotional intelligence in that job interview might have been slightly off, and it’s your responsibility to fix that. 

Lucky for you, emotional intelligence is a learned skill you can master with some know-how, practice, and self-awareness.

First and foremost, it’s important to understand what “emotional intelligence” is by definition. Emotional Intelligence is a term created by two researchers, Peter Salavoy and John Mayer, and popularized by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book titled “Emotional Intelligence. Why it can matter more than IQ.” They define E.I as the ability to: “recognize, understand and manage our own emotions, and to recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others.”

Being self-aware of your own mannerisms, tone of your voice, your stress levels, and how you manage your own emotions during the job interviews can be crucial to how you connect with hiring managers.

If you’re anything like I am, being in a job interview can be stressful for a variety of reasons. You are in unfamiliar territory or a new location, meeting new people, answering questions that might surprise you, and, all the while, you are doing your best to make sure you present yourself as well as possible because you desperately want the job. 

Keeping your emotions and stress levels in place can be a daunting task. 

One of the biggest keys to mastering the job interview is being prepared.

If you properly do your research on the company, the role, and most importantly the hiring managers, you will feel more comfortable in these situations. 

Some basic steps you can do are:

  1. To review the job description, job responsibilities, job requirements, and qualifications several times prior to going into the interview.
  2. Figure out what questions they are likely to ask you and properly prepare the answers for each question.
  3. Practice these answers in the mirror or with friends or family prior to the meetings.
  4. If you can, record your answers to challenging questions you know they will ask you in the interview. Then, watch the recordings to figure out if you can catch problems or difficulties you have in your tone of voice, mannerisms, or how you answer the question.
  5. Do your research on the hiring managers. Find out who they are, their titles, their backgrounds, and a little bit about what they do. This could help you to feel more comfortable in answering their questions because you know a little bit about what they are like before meeting them.

Even if you do all of these things, you still have to make sure you calm your own emotions, and become self-aware of what you are thinking and feeling during the job interviews.

  • Do your best to be in the present moment.
  • Listen very intently.
  • Watch the mannerisms, tone of voice, and gestures that the hiring managers use when asking the question.
  • Think about what problem they are trying to solve by asking the question.
  • Think about what point of view they might be coming from before giving them your answer. The old adage, “put yourselves in their shoes” could prove quite useful in this situation.

Feeling your way around an interview can be difficult but it’s important to “read the room” to understand the energy, pressures, and levels of stress of the job interviewers. That includes watching how they interact with you, their tone of voice, looking for signs and body language they portray in their questions and discussions with you.

If you need help with Emotional Intelligence and calming your nerves before the interview, I highly recommend doing focused breathing, meditating or quieting your mind in a private place 10 minutes before interviewing. This can have a profound impact on how you present yourself and what types of feelings you convey in the interviews.

When your levels of stress and cortisol levels in your blood are low, you are able to properly relax, and communicate clearly and concisely. This can make all of the difference in the comfort level and personal connection with the person asking the questions.

There are so many factors in having emotional intelligence in the interviews. If you spend time working on your stress, emotions, and your own self-awareness, you are more likely to be able to feel if this is the right job or right company for you.

Emotional Intelligence in Job Interviewing is a learned skill that must be mastered to be able to get the job you desire. With a little practice, you can learn and grow your skills in this area.