Promoting Your Emotional IQ in a Job Search

August 23, 2010 at 1:37 am Leave a comment

I recently heard from a job hunter who wondered if they were TOO brainy and not warm enough in a recent interview. This job seeker said he prepared well, had a good pitch for the position, asked smart questions and was professional and calm. Yet he didn’t get a second interview, and when asked what he could have done better, the hiring manager was vague. In retrospect, he says, he thinks he may have failed to make an emotional connection with the interviewer. “Yet, am I supposed to worry about that?” he asks in an email. “Do I have to work hard to make them like me, as well as respect my qualifications?”

Well, yes. While it may seem that it’s enough to wow a hiring manager with your skills, experience and knowledge of the organization and the field, it’s not. Human nature being what it is, those hiring want to feel a solid connection with a candidate and want to think you’d be a desirable person to have around the office. Now, if you’re not qualified or prepared, it doesn’t matter how much they may like you. But if you have the skills and experience and they don’t feel any warmth, you may have a problem — especially if another candidate is qualified as well as friendly and warm. This is what’s known as emotional intelligence, and heightening your emotional IQ is an important element in succeeding in  the interview process.

Emotional intelligence has gotten a lot of press lately, and there’s plenty of studies and anecdotal evidence that show it’s an important, demonstrable skill in the workplace. A recent book that’s not half bad posits the idea that even if you’re not a naturally warm and outgoing person, you can develop some skills and traits that can help you in a job hunt:

The Smart New Way to Get Hired – Use Emotional Intelligence and Land the Right Job

Meanwhile, here are some common-sense tips to help you promote your emotional IQ in a job search, and to avoid being viewed as cold and distant:

*Show empathy. Most job hunters don’t think much about the interviewer on the other side of the desk, and how they may be feeling. Often, a hiring manager is sandwiching this interview in among about 100 other things they’re doing that day and may not be prepared or thrilled about the process. While you may not think it’s your role to put them at ease, if you show some empathy, you may be able to make a real connection. Even little grace notes like “I realize you’ve been talking to a lot of people for this job, and I really appreciate you giving me the chance to discuss it with you” shows that you value their time and you respect the fact that this is a competitive process. They may put their guard down a bit with you and the interview can turn into a conversation rather than a sterile Q&A if you seek to put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes.

*Be human, not a robo-candidate. All kinds of little things — like smiling before answering questions, making the interviewer think they’re asking good questions and listening well — can give a hiring manager the sense that you’re paying attention and trying to connect with them. Showcasing a sense of humor, in an appropriate way, of course (be very careful to keep all jokes and language clean!!), can also reassure a hiring manager that you are someone who will work well with others. And you can show you’re self aware and don’t take yourself too seriously if you make a little joke at your own expense. If you’re nervous, for instance, you might even joke about that — which could show your human side and also might help explain away a flub or two you may make in the interview.

*Prove you can communicate. In addition to assessing the content of the interview, hiring managers often use phone and face-to-face interview sessions as a way to evaluate how well a candidate communicates with others — and under pressure. And especially in communications and journalism jobs, they will be placing a priority on these skills. If you can’t communicate effectively enough for them to feel like they know you somewhat after an interview, they may figure that you’re just not a good communicator — and they may drop you from their list even if they’re impressed by your other skills. So work hard — by how you say it as well as what you say — to get your points across in a conversational way. In person, keep steady eye contact with the interviewer and provide anecdotal examples whenever possible to keep their interest and make memorable points. Don’t ramble; respect their time and respond accordingly to what appear to be their priorities. On the phone, speak clearly and compensate for the lack of body language by adopting a friendly, outgoing tone — underscore your most important points with enthusiasm. Practice all of this before hand with a trusted friend; have them specifically determine whether you seem to be communicating in a conversational style and note what kinds of responses were most effective in making a connection.

*As I didn’t get much response to my request for what really bugs job hunters about recruiters and hiring managers (hoping to serve up a comeback to last week’s post, “Avoid These Job-Hunting Sins at All Costs”), thought I’d try to get something going with this link to a post on, looking at what organizations should do to get good employees in the door. Being courteous is among them! Let me know what other advice you’d have for those hiring:

What Employers Need To Do To Attract The Right Candidates

*And now for a batch of fresh job, freelance and internship leads:

*Voice of America in D.C. has an opening for a supervisory managing editor of the Persian News Network:

Supervisory Managing Editor (Persian), GS-1001-13–[M/P]
Broadcasting Board of Governors – Washington, DC
Incumbent serves as a Supervisory Managing Editor for the Persian News Network, responsible for the editorial direction and news content of PNN’s news output… $89,033 – $115,742 a year

*The well-regarded Writer’s Center in Bethesda is looking for a director; applications are open only until Sept. 1 so if you’re interested, you’d better get going:

Director, The Writer’s Center
Closing Date: September 1.  The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, is one of the country’s premier independent literary centers, offering writing workshops in all genres at all skill levels to more than 2,000 members and the general public in the Washington, D.C. region. Its mission is to cultivate the creation, publication, presentation, and dissemination of literary work. Founded in 1976, the organization is seeking a passionate, committed, and entrepreneurial new Director to lead the organization through its next stage of growth. The Writer’s Center offers a unique literary bookstore, twice annually publishes Poet Lore, the oldest continually published poetry journal in the country, and three times annually Workshop & Event Guide, its workshop and live event guide. The Writer’s Center presents readings and other literary events to the general public, and provides associated services in support of a unique community of writers ranging from the well-established to beginners. The Writer’s Center operates on a budget of $1M and employs six to seven full-time and three part-time employees. The Director is the senior artistic and management staff position, responsible for leading and meeting the artistic mission of the Center, and for the overall management and success of all Center operations. The Director reports to the Board of Directors whose role is policy, supervision, and support. The Director is the Center’s primary representative to the general public, to participants and members, to grantors and donors, and to the literary arts field generally. Applicants should familiarize themselves with The Writer’s Center’s new Web site, To apply, applicants should forward resume, cover letter, and references to

*The Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (Md.) is looking for a communications intern to work 10-15 hours a week for the fall semester:

*Politico in Arlington is looking for another Web editor who can handle a fast pace of news. Those interested should contact Danielle Jones (

*The American Hospital Association (AHA) has several communications openings in its D.C. office, including for a senior communications specialist:

The American Hospital Association is recruiting for 5 editorial/communications positions based in either Chicago, IL or Washington, DC.  Check out the website for the specific postings and instructions on how to apply:

*The Maryland Judiciary in Annapolis is looking for a Web content editor:

If anyone is interested in working a short-term temporary gig with no benefits but the flexibility to work from home or know someone who is, the Maryland Judiciary is looking for a web content editor. The Judiciary has thousands of pages of content that really needs to be re-written, edited, downsized, translated into regular peoplespeak. They prefer someone with a journalism background who is familiar with the writing style needed for the web. Contact: Angelita Plemmer, Director, Office of Communications and Public Affairs, State of Maryland Judiciary, Judicial Education Conference Center, 2011-D Commerce Park Drive, Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Phone: 410-260-1564
Fax: 410-260-3560

*Grist is looking for a news editor on the East Coast; D.C. would be a preferred location:
News Editor

Grist, the nation’s most influential source of green news and
commentary, is looking for an experienced editor to help develop and
drive a daily news approach, delivering on our homepage and in our
emails a must-have distillation of green developments and
conversations, with a decidedly irreverent POV.

The News Editor will be a ringmaster of sorts, responsible for
monitoring, collecting, and culling the day’s most important and
provocative news, people, ideas, and events in the world of green, and
then applying, with wit and sass, a narrative thread to the

We want someone who is brimming with ideas for how to engage users
with insightful content. The editor should have a good sense of the
green zeitgeist, considered opinions on its evolution, and an ability
to translate that perspective into a colorful, compelling storyline of
what’s important and why.

The News Editor will ideally be located on the East Coast, preferably
in N.Y.C. or D.C. S/he will report to the Executive Editor.

— Work closely with senior management and a team of one or two others to
produce a distillation, updated multiple times a day, of the most
vital and interesting green developments and conversations
— Develop and manage a small team, including volunteer contributors
— Respond to web analytics and integrate social media into the fabric of
the day’s work
— Write and edit ad hoc assignments as required (that’s life at a
mission-based nonprofit!)

— Killer writing and editing skills
— 5 years experience as an online news editor
— 2-3 years experience managing projects, ideally leading small teams
of producers, reporters, and designers
— Strong eye for visual journalism and what works online
— Significant experience harnessing social media
— Significant experience translating web analytics and user data into
product improvements
— Hands-on experience with HTML, CSS, Photoshop, and other online tools;
hands-on CMS experience a plus
— Bachelor’s degree; journalism degree a plus
— A well-developed funny bone
— Stellar contacts in the media world a plus

Grist offers good benefits, the opportunity to play a crucial role in
an environmental media organization, and a friendly, fun workplace.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to with
“News Editor” in the subject line. We are looking for a thoughtful,
personalized cover letter that demonstrates your qualifications and
writing style. No phone calls, please. Grist is an equal-opportunity

*And last but not least today, Yahoo! has a contract opening for a Web editor/producer on the East Coast:

Yahoo! is hiring — Web editor/producer w/ lifestyles experience

Actively seeking a full-time editor/producer for the Starbucks wi-fi front page to be programmed by Yahoo!

We need a Web producer/editor with strong lifestyles content and partner management experience based on East Coast, ideally NYC. This is a contract job (unfortunately no health benefits). Must have at least 5 years of professional online experience.

Here’s the job description:

Happy hunting!



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