How to Showcase Emotional Intelligence during a Job Interview?

Volodymyr Bilyk
24 March 2021

Job interview emotional intelligence is one hell of a combination. The job interview is the defining point for the recruiter (as a representative of the company) and the candidate. It is also a defining moment for a candidate’s emotional intelligence skills.

Because of that, it is critical to show your best during each interview stage. Showcasing emotional intelligence is one of the integral parts of that process.

But here’s a thing. Demonstrating emotional intelligence during job interviews is quite a challenge. Not just because of all the tension coming from the job interview setting. 

  • Lack of understanding of what to do and how to do it right is much more critical in that regard. 

Well, worry no more. We’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide to showcasing emotional intelligence during job interviews.

The role of Emotional Intelligence during a Job Interview

The role of Emotional Intelligence during a job interview

The job interview is a significant stepping stone for the candidate. It is the first real step towards accomplishing the goal of getting the job. The puzzle pieces are starting to come together – it is time to show some shine and catch the right frequency.

However, it is easier said than done. 

  • The thing is – emotions often get in the way of presenting yourself in the best possible way. 
  • I’m not talking about trembling hands and a shaky high-pitched voice. 
  • I’m talking about how your emotions influence how you answer the questions and present yourself professionally.
  • That’s why EQ is a must. Because of that, emotional intelligence training may come in handy.

The thing is – when it comes to interviewing, recruiters are set to mine valuable information about the particular candidate. And it goes beyond the professional expertise down to soft skills. 

Thus, the questions show what the candidate thinks about a particular thing and expose his behavioral patterns – how he acts, reacts, accentuates certain things, and so on. This aspect helps to understand whether the candidate fits for the position.  

It is important to note that there is no malice in the intent on the recruiter’s side. It’s their job to find the right people. 

  • Your goal is to convince them that you are the one. 
  • Emotional intelligence can be an addition to convincing them of that. 

How to express emotional intelligence during the job interview? CNA IT Guide

In this day and age, the candidate’s experience and skills are not the only critical aspects the recruiters consider 

1. Listen, then act

How to Showcase Emotional Intelligence during Job Interview? Listen, then act

Listening can be the right way of showing your efficiency. How? It can present you as a cooperative person who can play the ball and deliver precisely what is expected while also achieving your own goals. 

Here’s how. The interview is built upon a set of questions designed around certain aspects of the position. It’s not only about giving the right answer but also presenting your operating procedure in general. 

As such, you need to listen to the question carefully. Analyze the following:

  1. What is being asked?
  2. How is it formulated?
  3. How is it expressed?
  4. What does it really mean?

That approach shows the interviewer that you can engage with the incoming information and process it on the go.

2. Emote (for real)

How to Showcase Emotional Intelligence during Job Interview? Emote


One of the critical elements of making an impression on any human being is the expression of emotions. Well-mannered emoting creates trust, while ill-temper forges suspicion. 

  • In the context of a job interview, it means that you need to act naturally and don’t play an automaton on the recruiter’s behalf.

The entire reason for conducting the interview is to study how the person interacts with people and how he acts in the professional conversation mode. The overzealous restraint can be detrimental to making a positive impression. In fact, it can contribute to a negative response.

How to make it right? There is no “one size fits all” solution. But there are several handy tips:

  1. Act as if it was an everyday work-related conversation – an information exchange. 
  2. Avoid a “doom and gloom” tone, but also don’t goof around. The best way to describe this attitude is “easy-going.”
  3. Avoid making sarcastic remarks. This kind of stuff is ripe for misinterpretation.  
  4. Avoid creating tension.

3. Engage in the Conversation!

How to Showcase Emotional Intelligence during Job Interview? Engage in the Conversation

Engagement is one of the most critical aspects of effective communication. It builds trust and uncovers opportunities to go a little bit further.

What does it mean during an interview? 

  • Short answer: You need to get involved – keep the conversation interesting for the interviewer.
  • Long answer: doing a job interview is a collaboration between the candidate and the recruiter. 

By “interesting,” I mean not “pulling rabbits out of a hat” but more pragmatic information exchange. For example, you answer the question, and you then ask the question. 

Another essential element is the valuable contributions to the conversations – such as real-life examples and demonstrations of the thought process.

4. Connect the Dots

How to Showcase Emotional Intelligence during Job Interview? Connect the dots

There are several types of questions aimed at sneakily studying your emotional intelligence skills. 

  • Usually, they are about your course of action in a particular situation or some abstract thing in general terms. 
  • Both types of questions are treasure troves regarding expressed information regarding your work ethic and emotion management. 

Because of that, the addition of real-life examples to your answers will be highly beneficial.

Here’s the thing – we don’t live in a vacuum. Everyone got some stuff to share. It is in your interest to convince the interviewer that you know what to do in specific situations. 

  • Contextualized musings will resonate with common sense and the position’s requirements. 

How to make it right? The secret is in the sequence of the response.

  1. You start by presenting a logical breakdown of a point – step-by-step.
  2. Then you need to contextualize the point on a practical example.

Such an answer will give the interviewer what he needs without the threat of misrepresenting the candidate.

5. Tell the interviewer how you are improving yourself

How to Showcase Emotional Intelligence during Job Interview?

Openness is one of the most valuable features of any position. These days, it is almost a requirement – to embrace new and unknown and go beyond the comfort zone.

Openness also means that you are willing to change, evolve to get better, and achieve more. It is a substantial motivation beacon that gives the proper signal to the recruiter.

Here’s how to do it right. 

  • You need to present a strategy and its progress from the external perspective. 

The key features of it are:

  • Being plausible in your vision of self-improvement (this means stuff like “becoming a better professional” won’t cut it);
  • Having an actual plan for achieving specific goals (for example, getting better at writing by getting more feedback and studying the creative writing course);
  • Achieving tangible results (for example, a certification or diploma if that’s a learning course, getting positive feedback in dealing with a mentor, etc.).

6. Follow the “Challenge-Achievement” formula

How to Showcase Emotional Intelligence during Job Interview? Follow the “Challenge-Achievement” formula

The interview revolves around the narrative. It can be many things, but the main story is how the candidate presents himself as the best suitable option. The central element of this equation is decision-making. 

And there is no way of doing better than a simple formula of two elements – challenges and achievements

Why? It is clearly defined and easy to follow.

  • You map out what and how, and why in a digestible form that is easy to navigate.
  • Besides delivering the information (a detailed showcase of your critical skills), it also showcases your rational approach to communication. 

There only three rules to follow:

  • Be plausible;
  • Connect the dots in cause and effect manner;
  • Accentuate the result and its aftermath.

7. Discuss Company’s Сulture & Values 

How to Showcase Emotional Intelligence during Job Interview?

Every conversation has a throughline narrative. In the case of a job interview, especially in the initial stages – it is about company culture.

Even more so – it is about the company’s mission, vision, and values to match the individual and the organization and, possibly, proceed to continue the partnership.

  • It is important to note that this should not be the centerpiece of the conversation. Instead, it must come out in the subtle back and forth exploration and matching. 

Similar to showcasing EQ by answering questions, you can discuss values and overall company culture while talking about the work itself.

Why does it matter?

  • If you actively express interest in such things as culture and values – it indicates to the interviewer that your intentions are more or less serious.
  • It shows that you are considering ways of fitting into the collective and actively contributing to the common good. That thing is critical.

How to pull this off the right way?

  • The best way to explore the subject of culture and values is through actionable questions. 
  • If you ask about the company culture right away with the “let’s talk about company culture” question – that’s not going to work out. You’ll get a deserved marketing pitch with limited insight.
  • Instead, ask about the action stuff – modus operandi, preferable approaches, acceptable practices. Ask about the company’s history and traditions – it is better for expressing your interest in the people behind the company.

8. Avoid Boilerplate Responses

How to Showcase Emotional Intelligence during Job Interview?

No one likes by the numbers generalized responses that consist of many words but, in reality, tell little to nothing of note.

What is a boilerplate response?

  • It is a type of low-effort response that formally answers the question but is anything but the answer to the question.
  • The boilerplate response is a variation of the “thanks but no thanks” rhetorical approach – it a sign of reluctance to share actual information regarding the subject matter.

As such, it is handy if you don’t want to engage in conversation and need to get through trying as little as possible.

  • However, in the case of a job interview – this is something to avoid wholly. With generic answers, it takes down a notch your chances to pass an interview successfully. 

How not make boilerplate responses? The answer is easy:

  • Provide valuable information;
  • Amplify it with actual facts;
  • Provide illustrations of thought processes;
  • Go into detail with additional questions.

Keep that in mind and you’re safe.

In Conclusion

That’s it. With these tips, you will know how to pull off a proper Emotional Intelligence Showcase during a job interview. As you can see, it is far from rocket science – you just need to put structure into things.

While these things can’t compensate for cracks in the technical expertise or other types of chips on the shoulder – they can seriously improve your presentation and move you a little bit further in the quest to acquire the job.

If you need a consultation regarding emotional intelligence issues or need help with assessing your specialists’ emotional intelligence skills, our HR consultants can help you.