EQ (Emotional Quotient): Why It’s Crucial for Your Applications

Image by Daniel

Image by Daniel

If you’re a college student focused on your studies and GPA, you probably don’t think much of your EQ, but this is in fact something you should think about even before you graduate. EQ or emotional quotient measures emotional intelligence—something some may dismiss as unimportant, holding to the outdated concept that IQ rules all.

We know now how untrue that is, though. EQ is currently held to be one of the strongest predictors of success for people because it indicates their levels of self-awareness, emotional management, self-motivation, empathy, and social ability. The import of EQ is particularly clear in the business field now, where many hiring managers are even screening applicants with EQ as one of the primary criteria.

The importance of EQ is easy to see if you think back to all the times you’ve seen IQ-smart people do seemingly awkward or stupid things. Many real-life problems can’t be solved with theoretical or even scientific learning alone. Whether it’s the classmate you’re paired up with for a project or the team you have to work with once you start an internship, there are social considerations in your performance that require EQ.

A low EQ can make you less effective at dealing with others and many professional fields are unforgiving to the less-than-socially-adept. It’s also bad for self-esteem, as low EQ tends to correlate to higher potential for depression and lack of confidence. And of course, a low EQ can make it more difficult for you to deal with life since it makes you bad at managing emotions like stress.

Fortunately, EQ is far more flexible than IQ: it can be improved greatly with the right guidance. The more time one has to work on it, of course, the better. This is why you should work on improving your EQ now instead of later. That way, you’ll be better prepared for life after graduation when your college life is over.

There are many ways to improve EQ, and most important of them is improving self-awareness. This is the foundation of all other aspects of EQ. The more aware you are of your own emotions, the better you will be at managing them as well as at recognizing like emotions in others. It also gives you an idea of what the appropriate response would be to their emotions based on your own experiences. A job interview is just basically a potential employer testing your reactions and responses to social situations at work, after all.

But can’t results be faked? Yes and no. You can appear to have a higher EQ than you really have, at least for a time. For example, some candidates can pretend to be more comfortable with social situations during job interviews than they really are. This is dependent on the job interviewer being “duped by the act”. However, this can be harder (but not impossible, in most cases) to pull off if the EQ test is more scientific.

Interestingly, pretending to have a higher EQ can help you develop your actual EQ, though. For example, producing “more socially appropriate” responses to employers’ queries can help you hone your skills at identifying what is “more socially appropriate” in the first place. This is crucial for workplace EQ.

A good if informal way of honing and testing your EQ for this as well as other indicators of emotional intelligence is to simulate job interviews with your friends. They can give you feedback on your responses afterwards. Your friends can even make suggestions on responses they feel you could have improved.

You can also improve EQ through simulation of workplace structures by joining clubs and other groups that require regular teamwork. It’s why employers look at the extracurricular activities on your resume, after all: it’s good preparation for the social aspect of the office. The more you work with others, the better you get at it, not just through self-aware improvement but also by taking the advice and critiques of others.

If you want a more standard (numeric) measure of your EQ while you’re working on it, though, there are countless free tests online that can help you in that regard. The University of Washington has one here, for example, and Berkeley has one here. You can measure your EQ with tools like these to get a sense of whether or not your efforts to enhance emotional intelligence are working and to find out where you may need additional effort. Many employers use them or similar derivatives, so it can be good practice early on for application tests—it’s not that different from getting a copy of last year’s Accounting Final Exam as prep for this year’s, after all.

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