By: Aubrey Wursten
When you are hiring for your company, you need to ask interview questions that will help you to sort the rock star employees from the wanna-be’s. You are trying to assemble Led Zeppelin, not their cover band. Carolyn Sun, research editor for Entrepreneur, has made your job easier by coming up with “7 Interview Questions that Determine Emotional Intelligence.”
Most interviewees approach a job interview the same way they approach a trip to the dentist: they hover nervously outside your door until they can no longer put off the inevitable, then shuffle into the office of doom. But don’t let their hyperventilating dissuade you. While their panic is probably not a promising sign, their responses to thought-provoking questions can tell you more than the fact that they fainted when they walked through the door. Break out the smelling salts, and start examining their brains. (Figuratively only, obviously. For legal reasons.)
Who Inspires You and Why?
If your candidate eagerly names the latest singing pop princess, you might feel some concern. (Remember, we are going for Led Zeppelin.) Ask why. If it is because this temporary pop idol uses her platform to promote a humanitarian cause, you might breathe a tiny sigh of relief. But if it is because this performer has “like, totally, the best hair ever,” alarm bells should be deafening. Your candidate is clearly in junior high school, and her busy mall-wandering schedule may conflict with her work hours.
Your candidate’s answer to this question will tell you the type of person she plans to emulate. If she names a hard-working, dedicated, intelligent, friendly person who rescues puppies in her spare time, you may have a winner.
But don’t get too excited. We still have 6 more questions.
If You were Starting a Company Tomorrow, What Would Be Its Top Three Values?
You need an employee you can trust with company finances, confidential information, and most notably, your lunch in the break room fridge. In addition, you need somebody who is aware that work involves… well, work. You can’t have an employee who plays fantasy football on company dollars. Unless, of course, you have an office betting pool, in which case you should ask all candidates if they like football.
By asking the values of your candidate’s dream company, you can see if they align well with yours. You don’t just want to hire a generally good employee; you want to get one that is a good fit for YOUR company.
If business priorities change, describe how you would help your team understand and carry out the shifted goals?
A business is never static. Not only must your team members be able to adapt, they must possess the verbal and emotional communication skills to help colleagues do so as well. Listen for phrases that would help your existing employees to keep calm and carry on.
Did you build lasting friendships while working at another job?
This can be a great litmus test when checking for for emotional intelligence. If your interviewee enthusiastically touts the virtues of all of his 30 former colleagues, he will probably get along with new ones. Someone who has consistently built healthy relationships with many people can continue to do so.
If, on the other hand, your candidate insists that the 30 former colleagues were the problem at the old job, you know that the person sitting in the chair across from you was probably the real issue. And he will gladly continue to play the role of troublemaker in your workplace.
What skill or expertise do you feel like you’re still missing?
People who believe they know it all will not be open to learning new skills at your workplace. They will feel quite confident that they know more than their superiors, and they will not take instruction or criticism well. In addition, curiosity is an appealing quality in a colleague. People who are excited to learn from your knowledge will be make for enjoyable workmates.
Can you teach me something, as if I’ve never heard of it before?
Asking this question may seem like an odd way to gauge emotional intelligence. However, someone who explains a difficult concept slowly, and frequently asks questions such as, “Does this make sense so far?” shows a genuine concern for the person he is teaching. On the other hand, someone who explains it as quickly as possible, using words with the maximum number of syllables possible, is more interested in exhibiting his own knowledge than in imparting it to others. And nobody likes a showoff.
What are the top three factors you would attribute to your success?
It goes without saying that if your interviewee lists factors such as “my superior intellect, my disarming charm, and my devastating good looks,” you may have a narcissist sitting in your office chair. Not only should you avoid putting this person at the top of your hiring list, you should probably disinfect the chair. Just in case this nauseatingly unpleasant trait is contagious.
A person who generously gives credit to former colleagues will probably do the same at your company. Crediting others is a sign of a team player. Again, we are trying to build the Led Zeppelin of companies, and we don’t want anybody’s bad attitude breaking up the band.