If another article on emotional intelligence drew your attention here, chances are you already know of its importance and are looking for some tips to give you an edge.

Yes, high emotional intelligence has been found to be one of the most desired qualities for personal and professional development. And yes, people exhibiting high emotional intelligence (EQ) make the workplace better. For example:

  • Teamwork improves
  • Customer service improves
  • Change is embraced
  • Feedback is welcomed
  • Tough situations are handled better
  • People connect and support one another better
  • Deadlines and work objectives are seamlessly carried out
  • People are more self-motivated

But to be a true believer, a shift is required that starts with fully valuing your own human development. This requires courageously pursuing change and evolving through choice and positive intent.

The process is not easy. It requires deep self-reflection into who you are--your triggers, fears, and what makes you tick. But it is ultimately rewarding.

Eleven questions to assess your emotional intelligence.

To begin the process of assessing and growing your emotional intelligence, ask yourself:

  1. Are you usually aware of your feelings and why you feel that way?
  2. Are you aware of your strengths, as well as your limitations and blind spots?
  3. Do you recognize when your behaviors or actions affect others?
  4. Are you able to manage your distressing emotions well and bounce back quickly from stressful situations?
  5. Can you adapt smoothly to change?
  6. Are you able to manage your emotions--calm yourself down when you feel anxious or upset?
  7. Are you able to listen without jumping to judgment?
  8. Are you able to focus on the big picture and main priorities? Do you know the steps it takes to get there?
  9. Are you able to detect the feelings of others around you and understand their way of seeing things?
  10. Can you freely admit to making a mistake?
  11. Are you keen on negotiating agreements that benefit both you and others in order to settle conflicts?

Hiring for emotional intelligence.

Taking it a step further, organizations looking for an edge in hiring performers with high emotional intelligence should take note of a recent report called "Emotional Intelligence at Work," published by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing company.

The findings came from a survey of over 600 HR managers and 800 office workers, further adding proof that high emotional intelligence (EQ) is critically important in work settings where professionals interact with a wide range of people.

Thirty percent of HR managers in this study said they feel like most employers don't put enough emphasis on EQ during the hiring process.

Sample questions to ask job candidates.

If you're in a management or an HR role, and you'd like to evaluate whether your potential hires have the EQ you need for top performance, ask the following interview questions:

  • Tell me about a workplace conflict you were involved in, either with your peers or someone else in the company. How did you manage that conflict, and were you able to resolve it?
  • Describe the most challenging supervisor you've ever worked with. What was the most difficult thing about that relationship from your perspective, and how did you manage it?
  • What would a previous boss say is the area that you need to work on most? Have you taken steps to improve in this area, and if so, what have you tried to change?
  • Tell me about a day when everything went wrong. How did you handle it?
  • What type of working environment brings out your best performance? Your worst?
  • If business priorities change, describe how you would help your team understand and carry out the shifted goals.

Pay attention to the language applicants use to describe their goals and accomplishments, as it often holds clues to their level of emotional intelligence. For example, if an applicant talks about a failure, does the comment suggest an awareness of some personal responsibility for the episode, or does he or she simply blame others?

When it comes to handling criticism, is the person able to acknowledge shortcomings and keep things in perspective rather than becoming defensive and making excuses?

What about body language? Does it indicate they're listening attentively -- or are they distracted?

As organizations focus more on hiring and growing employees with high EQ, the long-term results will be better team members, better leaders, and better performance.