This Emotional Intelligence Test Might Be the Future of Job Interviews
Knowledge is out; “21st century” soft skills are in — this has been the message from employers for a while, now, and has even started to inform how we educate our children. The bankable skills in the immediate future are those that enable us to work and play nicely with others — skills such as, for instance, emotional intelligence.
So, it’s no surprise that employers are looking at ways to gauge prospective employees’ so-called ‘EQ’. A quick internet search turns up as many articles on how to demonstrate emotional intelligence in a job interview, as tips on how to look for emotional intelligence when conducting a job interview. But now, employers may have a new tool — and prospective employees, a new test. Developed by researchers at the Universities of Geneva and Berne, Switzerland, the Geneva Emotional Competence Test (GECO) is the first EQ test to measure people’s emotional intelligence specifically in the context of work.
EQ Previous tests have surveyed emotional intelligence skills more broadly, but “…someone may behave in a totally different way with their family or at work. They might be authoritarian in one environment and submissive in another,” says Marcello Mortillaro, a researcher in the Swiss Center for Affective Sciences at the University of Geneva.
Read more: Building Emotional Intelligence in Children
The test breaks down and evaluates emotional intelligence into four sub-skills: understanding emotions, recognizing emotions, regulating your own emotions and managing other people’s emotions.
And since emotional intelligence is most helpful in situations of tension, “we concentrated on problematic situations that involve negative emotions: fear, sadness, anger and inappropriate happiness or Schadenfreude,” says Katja Schlegel, a researcher at the University of Berne’s Institute of Psychology.
When you take the test (you can do a brief demo here, to see what it’s like), you are, indeed, confronted with negative-emotion faces (fear, sadness), but also positive-emotion faces (joy, pride); each person featured utters nonsense syllables, and the goal is for test-takers to parse the voice tone, body language and facial expression to determine the exact emotion expressed. Examples from other sections of the test aren’t available.
“We tested GECO on people aged 20 to 60, and the results show that emotional intelligence increases with age and experience, meaning it’s a faculty that can be improved and developed,” Mortillo says. They also found it’s a skill employers pay more for; a superior ability to regulate one’s own emotions was linked to a slightly higher salary.
While that’s true, it’s questionable whether the test will be usable beyond the immediate European environs in which it was developed; emotional intelligence may not always translate across cultures. Culture influences the facial expressions we use and why — and how they are interpreted.
One thing is clear, though; regardless of whether this test becomes the next big thing in hiring practices, it marks a sea-change in hiring practices, one employers have been building toward for some time.
“Anxiety, confusion, unhappiness and anger have no place in organisations,” PV Ramanamurthy, then-HR head of Coca Cola India told The Economic Times back in 2010. “The company as a whole has to have EI, not just a few individuals at the top.”