Which is matters more in an interview, IQ or EQ?

Companies want to hire the best and the brightest.

Individuals who can learn, understand, and apply information.  Every position requires savvy technical skills (technical = whatever specific knowledge you need to do your job), problem-solving skills, and analytical thinking.

These are related to your IQ.

Does anyone else remember when individuals included their GPA on a resume/CV?  I don’t see it much these days (that could be because the resumes I see most often are people who have quite a few years between that GPA and today, myself included).  But I recall the conversations about it.  The general rule of thumb was to include it on your resume if you had a 3.0 or better.

Your GPA was considered reliable predictor of job success.

EQ, on the other hand, is your ability to understand, interpret, and respond to the emotions of others.

It’s vital in roles that require teamwork, leadership, and interpersonal skills. Are there any roles that don’t require these things?

While there are tests that are said to measure EQ, during an interview process, we often rely on people to self-report through questionnaires or behavioral questions.

What Companies Really Want

Companies want to hire people with both the ability to learn and apply what they learn along with the ability to engage and interact harmoniously with others.

Is that too much to ask?

No, I don’t think it is.

But, there are popular opinions, commonly shared practices and prevalent advice that have put these desires in harm’s way.

Yes, we are creating a dangerous situation.

A few of the offenders

  1. Overemphasis on qualifications and work experience. While qualifications and work experience are undoubtedly important, they are not the sole indicators of an individual’s long term success.
  2. Neglecting cultural fit: Hiring for cultural fit isn’t about hiring people who are all the same. It’s about ensuring the person will thrive in your company’s environment. Ignoring this aspect can lead to a toxic work environment where high-IQ and high-EQ individuals may feel stifled.
  3. Lack of diversified hiring strategies: Companies that stick to traditional hiring methods, miss out on diverse candidates who might not fit the conventional mold but possess high levels of EQ and IQ.
  4. Neglecting ongoing development: Ongoing learning and development opportunities are particularly important for individuals with high IQ and EQ, who are usually keen learners and constantly seek to improve.
  5. Ignoring interpersonal skills: A common misconception is that technical skills are more valuable than interpersonal skills. However, interpersonal skills, which are closely tied to EQ, are crucial for teamwork, problem-solving, and leadership.

In fact, according to a 2020 Leadership IQ report, Attitudes drive 89% of hiring failures, while technical skills account for only 11% of hiring failures.

Your Leverage

You may be able to point to instances during an interview when your technical knowledge or problem-solving skills is what tipped the scale in your favor.

Or you may just be more comfortable leaning on your IQ more than your EQ during an interview.

However, if you’re a HR leader or know an HR leader, ask them to verify # 5 from the above list.  Even though they would never name names, I’m confident that their experience will prove this study empirically.

Now that you know this, you have leverage.

Your leverage is to use this insight to your maximum advantage.

What that means to you…

This means is that you can stand out in a crowded candidate market by showcasing your empathy during an interview instead of sanitizing your story.

You can speak to the positive emotional impact on your team, culture and company that your leadership installed and cultivated.

Consider these questions before your next interview

Below are a few questions that may help get your creative EQ mind percolating:

·       How did you motivate your team?

·       How did you empathize with them during a difficult time?

·       How did you demonstrate resilience?

·       Did a former colleague express their gratitude for your leadership?

·       Are you an active listener?

Once you pinpoint a few of your key EQ strengths, infuse them into your next interview right alongside your technical and problem-solving chops.

Get out there.

You got this.