To guarantee you’ll ace your next job interview, you don’t need to have won the Nobel Peace Prize or have the answer to world peace. You may not even need the most impeccable industry skill set. What really tips the scales in a candidate’s favor? Assuming solid qualifications, it’s emotional intelligence – in simple terms, your people skills.
How do you define that often esoteric term, EI or emotional intelligence? Consider it a recipe of poise, diplomacy, eloquence, intelligence, character, sensitivity, professionalism, good listening skills and humor – to name more than a few! There are likely many more, but you get the idea.
A candidate with the best technical skills but a poor demeanor or presentation will likely lose a job to someone with slightly less advanced business skills, but a winning EI. Why? Because, said simply, you can teach most tangible skills over time, but you can’t really teach character or emotional savvy.
It all begins the second you set foot in a company. If you’re slurping up the last bit of smoothie as you walk in to the lobby, big mistake. Don’t think the receptionist won’t share his or her thoughts on your professionalism to key decision makers.
I recently shared my expertise about effective interviewing and the importance of emotional intelligence with the Toronto Sun. Here are some key points to keep in mind from that conversation:
- Calm the jitters. It’s easy to let anxiety get the best of you and unwittingly make regrettable errors in your words or actions. Know that you can always pause a second to consider what you’d like to say or do at an interview.
- Watch those mannerisms. They will have a positive impact or you’ll leave a very memorable impression, and not in a good way!
- Don’t get too comfy! I have seen or heard of job candidates who have grasped their Starbucks coffee cup for most of a job interview, with no notepad or laptop in sight — a virtual ‘drive by’ interview; applicants who are really marketing their offspring; texting during the discussion; grooming in the lobby; eating a bagel as the interviewer approaches them; heated lover’s quarrels within earshot of the receptionist; asking if the interview could start over; and more!
- Two ears, one mouth. Avoid interrupting the interviewer. You have a lot more to gain by using active listening skills. Try to absorb the interviewer’s input as much as possible, especially early on, and get clues on their exact needs. That will position you better to respond more thoughtfully and with better precision.
- Sell, but don’t oversell your unique selling proposition (USP). Part of having strong emotional intelligence is gauging reaction. Market your USP – the skills, personality traits and experience that set you apart from other candidates. But don’t go overboard or oversell. Once you’ve made your point, stop. Be clear and concise in how your USP makes you a perfect fit for the job.
For additional interviewing advice, check out the Toronto Sun article.