Emotional intelligence interview questions explore a candidate’s ability to perceive, understand, and express emotions. This helps create an environment of trust and professionalism in the workplace, as team members will collaborate to achieve success.

This article explores the importance of emotional intelligence in the hiring process. We’ll help you prepare by giving you some examples of emotional intelligence interview questions that you might be asked in your next job interview, but that’s not all!

We’ll also provide you with excellent ideas on how you can answer them so that you can have a successful interview and land your dream job. Let’s start!

Key Takeaways

  • Candidates with high emotional intelligence are excellent team players who can effectively manage conflict and build strong relationships.
  • Among other things, common emotional intelligence interview questions aim to assess how well you deal with conflict, criticism, and people with different personalities.
  • Emotional intelligence can be measured through self-report and ability tests.
  • When answering emotional intelligence questions, It’s important to keep the conversation light and honest.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Hiring

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is defined as the capacity to understand, manage, and utilize emotions in oneself and others. It’s an important part of the hiring process, as finding a candidate with a high EQ leads to better teamwork, communication, and overall performance.

Moreover, emotional intelligence is essential for social interactions, as it allows individuals to build stronger relationships and effectively manage conflict. Employees with high emotional intelligence will have some (or all) of the following traits:

  • Self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Social skills
  • Emotional regulation
  • Adaptability
  • Motivation
  • Conflict resolution skills
  • Optimism
  • Open-mindedness
  • Resilience


Asking the right emotional intelligence interview questions will help recruiters find an employee who is likely to stay with a company long-term. These candidates have the right tools to manage stress and navigate workplace challenges, so they tend to report higher job satisfaction.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Hiring

They also tend to have good leadership skills, so they can take on more responsible roles within the company.

10 Common Emotional Intelligence Interview Questions + Sample Answers

When heading to an interview, you can expect to be asked some of the emotional intelligence interview questions listed below. Use the sample answers we provided to answer each of them and nail your interview.

#1. How do you deal with stress at work?

Whether you are going to an interview for a low or high-paying job, you might be asked to explain how you deal with workplace stress. An employer asks this question to determine how you react to challenging situations and how your reactions affect the team.

Tailoring the answer to this emotional intelligence question is particularly important when going for a nursing interview, for example, as the profession is known for its highly stressful situations.

You should provide an answer most interviewers will appreciate by focusing on problem-solving skills, resilience, and the ability to prioritize tasks. Thus, you can use the following sample:

I handle the inevitable stress by drawing up detailed plans. They allow me to tackle the situation one step at a time and prioritize tasks, which ultimately helps the entire team excel.

#2. Tell me about a situation in which you faced an ethical dilemma; how did you handle it?

Facing an ethical dilemma in the workplace is not uncommon, and the way you handle it tells a lot about your values as a professional. The question is also used to assess your integrity and approach to evaluating and solving problems.

Try to give an answer that explains the situation and showcases how you solved the conflict in a morally appropriate manner. You can use the following answer and make adjustments based on your profession:

When I was working on my last job as a bookkeeper, my boss asked me to run a personal expense through approval. I didn’t want to upset my boss, but I knew that doing what was asked of me would have weighed heavily on my conscience as a bookkeeper, so I spoke up.

In the end, my boss gave up on the idea of putting the personal expenses through the business account and thanked me for reminding him of the morally right thing to do.

#3. How do you handle criticism?

Employers oftentimes ask candidates how they handle criticism in the workplace, so it’s essential to have an answer ready in advance when job hunting. Being able to accept constructive criticism and make changes based on it is a sign of high emotional intelligence.

Moreover, this question is used to assess whether a candidate can accept different management styles. A person who’s only worked under a laissez-faire management style might have a hard time accepting an authoritative leader—and vice versa.

Here’s an example of an answer that will satisfy most interviewers:

Last year, my team and I put together an ad campaign for a client who wasn’t satisfied with the new slogan. We apologized for the oversight and for not researching their mission statement better and worked overtime to come up with a new slogan cost-free. The client was satisfied with the end result and continued to do business with us.

#4. How do you recover after a failure?

While mistakes and setbacks are an integral part of life, not everyone knows how to recover after a failure. The goal of asking this question is to find out whether a candidate has an emotional response to failure or if he/she can learn something from defeat and come out of it with practical takeaways.

Usually, interviewers prefer to hear a response that demonstrates an action-oriented mindset, as there’s nothing to be gained from wallowing. Therefore, a good answer to this emotional intelligence interview question would be:

I handle failure by focusing on solutions and taking a step back to assess the situation. Once I consider all possible options and outcomes, I work on developing a solid plan of action with my team.

#5. What is your greatest strength, and how do you use it to your advantage?

Candidates are oftentimes asked to describe their greatest strength, as it’s an excellent way to see their character in action. This is the perfect example of an emotional intelligence interview question, as the strength a person chooses to focus on reveals a lot about their personality.

People with high emotional intelligence will talk about a strength that they use to their advantage when helping their team. Contrarily, bragging about themselves can be a sign of low emotional intelligence in candidates, which lets managers know that person will likely not be the right fit for the team.

Are you close with your coworkers at your current position?

Let’s say that you choose to focus on your ability to multitask as your greatest strength. Your answer could look somewhat like this:

The ability to multitask is a strength that has enabled me to become more efficient. Moreover, it allows me to be of use to my team and jump in whenever they need me, and I don’t have to jeopardize the quality of work to be of assistance.

#6. Are you close with your coworkers at your current position?

Being close with coworkers can reflect on a person’s overall job performance. Usually, employees who foster good relationships with everyone in the workplace are excellent team players.

Sometimes, not being close with your coworkers—or at least having an amicable connection—shows an inability to form strong relationships. This is a sign of low emotional intelligence, and interviewers are always looking for candidates who speak well about their colleagues. Here is how you can answer this question in a good way:

I strive to use my strong communication skills, compassion, and personal awareness to become a great team player and befriend my colleagues. Having a great personal relationship with my coworkers allows us to be more efficient and meet deadlines.

#7. How do you handle sudden changes in project requirements or goals?

Handling sudden changes in project requirements or goals with grace is a trait of flexible employees. It demonstrates their ability to adjust strategies and meet the continuously evolving demands of the workplace.

Whether you are having an in-person or a phone interview, the interviewer must get a general impression of you as an adaptable person. To succeed in this, you want to connect specific details to the positive outcome you achieved.

We’ll give you an example of what a restaurant server might say to provide a satisfactory answer. You can then tailor the response based on your occupation.

I adapt to change by thinking quickly and dealing with unexpected situations calmly. For example, we had a huge party of guests arrive unexpectedly during a busy dinner shift. I solved the problem by reconfiguring the dining room in a way that accommodates both present and new guests—it ended up being one of our most successful nights in terms of sales.

#8. Can you maintain enthusiasm for routine or repetitive tasks, and how do you do it?

It’s not just free spirits who struggle to maintain enthusiasm for routine or repetitive tasks—everyone can experience difficulty with this. However, it’s important to know how to overcome a rut, which is why this is one of the most common emotional intelligence interview questions.

Assessing how a candidate handles routine and repetitive tasks can reveal their positive nature. Likewise, it showcases their commitment to the workplace, which is essential for consistent performance. Here’s an example of a good answer to this common interview question:

I have created a mindset where I don’t see repetitive things as boring. I give my best effort when doing something new for the first time, but I try to do it better and faster the next time. Thus, I consider repetitive tasks to be the motivation I need to constantly push myself.

#9. How do you tailor your communication style when working with different personalities or teams?

Adapting your communication style when working with different personalities or teams is essential for fostering communication and collaboration.

Every workplace employs people with different personality types. Being able to keep open lines of communication with every member of the team, no matter their character, shows that a candidate is versatile and adaptable.

How do you tailor your communication style when working with different personalities or teams?

This is one of the favorite emotional intelligence questions for managers, as the answer gives them insights into your personality and helps them understand whether you will be the right fit for the company. Here’s what they might like to hear:

I always try to understand and recognize different personality types, as communication becomes much more efficient once you learn a person’s hot buttons and triggers. Likewise, I do my best to approach every interaction with an open mind, which is how I manage to communicate with individuals who have different communication styles.

#10. How do you handle situations when things don’t go as planned?

Adapting to unplanned situations is a skill that not everyone has mastered. Interviewers ask this question to assess how candidates handle unforeseen circumstances.

The answer to this question gives the interviewers an idea of how adaptable the candidate is, which is particularly important in dynamic work environments.

To properly answer this question, you’ll want to start by choosing the right example. Continue by providing some context around the situation and highlighting how your unique skillset helped solve the unpredictable situation you were in. For example, you could say something along the lines of:

While working as a customer service representative, we experienced an unexpected power outage.

I had to stay calm and provide alternative solutions to the customers who were continuously calling, so I suggested taking their orders manually and following up via e-mail once the electricity came back on. I also had to keep my team leader informed about any changes.

How is Emotional Intelligence Measured?

To measure emotional intelligence, you can take two different types of tests: self-report tests and ability tests.

Self-report tests are much more common, as the person taking the test simply has to respond to a series of questions by rating their behavior. For example, you will have a statement such as “I often sympathize with how others are feeling,” and you will have to describe a statement as disagree, somewhat disagree, agree, or strongly agree.

On the other hand, those taking an ability test will have to respond to a situation by demonstrating their abilities, which a third party will then rate.

A mental health professional can also use emotional intelligence questions and answers to assess one’s EQ. In that situation, they could use one of two measures:


You can also find many free online resources if you are interested in measuring your emotional intelligence ahead of a big interview.

How Not to Answer Emotional Intelligence Interview Questions

Learning how not to answer emotional intelligence interview questions will keep you from making a mistake that might cost you your dream job. Here are some tips that will help you answer emotional intelligence questions like a pro:

  • Don’t get too serious. Emotional intelligence questions can be very sensitive, and you should try to keep it light when answering them. Don’t go overboard by joking too much and with no tact, though, as you may come off as unprofessional.
  • Don’t lie. Interviewers are trained to notice dishonesty. They will look for signs of discomfort and read body language to determine how honest you are. Thus, keep in mind that an interviewer would much rather hear an honest answer that reveals your weaknesses than a lie they can easily spot and lose their trust completely.
  • Don’t badmouth anyone. You might have had a toxic boss or manager at your previous job, but your interviewer doesn’t need to know that. Speaking ill of them will only leave the recruiter wondering whether you will do the same to them as well. Instead, be positive and reflect on the things you’ve learned from your previous job experience.
  • Don’t come unprepared. Most interviewers will ask if you have any questions. Show that you have high EQ by asking questions about the work culture and values, which you should prepare in advance.

Final Thoughts

You can expect emotional intelligence interview questions to be an important part of your next job interview. They are used to assess how you get along with other teammates, which gives employers a chance to see whether you can fit in with the team.

Thus, do your research ahead of time and answer these questions with complete honesty. Experienced interviewers can tell when you are lying, after which your chances of landing the job will plummet.