While someone’s intellectual abilities are important when it comes to tech work, emotional abilities are just as crucial to performing well on the job. In fact, a candidate’s emotional intelligence can be what sets them apart from the rest of the applicants. For hiring managers, it can be one of the more important things to screen for, but what interview questions should you ask?

Why It Is Important To Interview for EQ

What is EQ?

If you aren’t already familiar with the term, EQ (Emotional Quotient), it refers to an employee’s ability to manage their own emotions so they can communicate and carry out their work. It is what helps them defuse conflict on the job and empathize with their coworkers.

Not too long ago, the tech industry mainly focused on hard skills to fill positions. If you had a college degree and tech experience, you were hired for the most part. However, the industry is changing and emotional intelligence has started to play a role in a company’s hiring decisions. Now, the hard skills that used to be of utmost importance are playing a less major role.

Why EQ is Important

Over time, companies and hiring managers realized that EQ was just important as, if not more important than, IQ. For many companies, the pandemic brought along a digital transformation, and many tech employees started focusing on new projects, new business models. This puts tech staff front-and-center of the show. They are performing work that has a profound impact on the way the business runs.

In the past, tech employees were stereotypical “heads down and work” kind of people. That’s no longer true. Because they have a more involved role in most organizations, they have to have more interpersonal skills. It is no longer enough for tech experts to just be good at what they do, they need to be able to build relationships with other people in the industry too.

Define EQ For Your Company

Desirable EQ may look different from company to company. The tech world has a different culture from other occupations. Companies and teams within the company also have cultures of their own. So, the amount of emotional intelligence you need in a tech hire may differ, depending on the culture of your organization.

Most employers want someone who is self-aware. Being able to manage time wisely, be socially aware, and manage professional relationships are desirable as well. While those all sound like admirable traits, how should hiring managers be interviewing for EQ rather than IQ?

How to Identify EQ in Candidates

As a hiring manager, identifying EQ in  tech candidates can be a challenge. First, assume that all of their technical skills have been addressed and vetted. Don’t focus on these things during the interview. Instead, focus on their experience and ask more personal questions. Here are a few things to screen for and questions you can ask to highlight the candidate’s EQ.


  • Self-awareness: Get a feel for the candidate’s level of self-awareness by asking questions that let you get to know how they see themselves. Is it the same way you would describe them? If so, they are likely very self-aware.
  • Self-management: Self-management and self-regulation are also important to look for to identify EQ. During the interview, ask them how they have successfully resolved conflicts in the past. While they are telling their story, pay attention to how they handled their emotions throughout the process.
  • Motivation: The level of self-motivation the candidate has will help you identify EQ as well. Are they motivated to get the job done or are they too focused on emotional aspects of the work? Be sure to also get a feel for what motivates them to go to work each day too.
  • Empathy: Is the candidate able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes? Their ability to do so will help you identify emotional intelligence during the interview. Ask them questions about how they handled a fragile situation at work in the past.
  • Social skills: Ask questions about how the candidate likes to interact with other people. How do they spend their time, what are their hobbies?

While it is normal to have both introverted and extroverted people on your team, some jobs and cultures require more EQ than others. At the end of the day, your tech employees need to be aware of a little more than just the technical aspects of the job.

Leave it to the Professionals

Screening for EQ during the interview process can be a difficult task but it will make all the difference in the world on the quality of hire you receive. You can make the entire process easier on yourself and your staff by getting help from professional recruiters. Not only are they already tapped into the tech industry and in touch with candidates, but they also know how to identify EQ in tech employees. Get more information about how the pros at Burnett Specialists can help you.


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