#290: English Job Interview Questions about Emotional Intelligence | Example Answers

Oct 11, 2023 | Job Interviews in English

How do you respond to unexpected difficulties at work?

Can you share an example of when you had an upset customer or coworker? How did you handle the situation?

Tell me about a time you had a disagreement at work?


Not only are these common questions you’ll hear in an English job interview, but they’re also questions intended to evaluate your emotional intelligence or EQ. 

In this Confident English lesson, you’ll learn what emotional intelligence is and why it’s so important. Then I’ll share example answers and 4 strategies you can use to adapt your answer to common English job interview questions about emotional intelligence. 


English Job Interview Questions about Emotional Intelligence | With Example Answers

What Is Emotional Intelligence and Why Is It Important?

Let’s back up and discuss what is emotional intelligence. And why do interviewers ask so many questions about it?

Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ, is your ability to recognize, understand, manage, and effectively use one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others.

A job interviewer aims to evaluate your suitability for a particular job and your potential for success. Your emotional intelligence plays a key role.

Questions about EQ will aim to measure your ability to 

  • Collaborate with others
  • Lead or manage a team
  • Handle customer relations
  • Adapt to change or uncertainty
  • Resolve conflict
  • Make decisions
  • Manage stress
  • Maintain a growth mindset

And more.

However, common job interview questions that assess your EQ may not be obvious.

Some example questions include:

  • Can you describe a situation where you had to work closely with a team to overcome a challenge? How did you manage any conflicts that arose within the team?
  • Tell me about a time when you received constructive feedback. How did you react, and what steps did you take to address the feedback?
  • Describe a situation where you had to manage your time and workload effectively to meet a tight deadline. How did you handle the pressure and ensure quality work?

To best address these questions, I want to share 4 key strategies to help you respond effectively. With each one, I’ll give you example answers so you can see how to apply each strategy.

Strategy 1: Emphasize Your Resilience

Imagine an interviewer asks When a project doesn’t go as planned or you face a major setback, how do you handle it?

What might be wrong with this response?

I get frustrated when there are delays in a project. Since my team may also feel this way, I encourage them to not get stressed and keep pushing through.”

Rather than your resilience, this response spotlights the negative emotions – specifically feeling frustrated. Moreover, it shows a lack of understanding of how to manage emotions.

Instead, try one of the following:

  • “I try to take a step back and focus on the solutions.”
  • “I acknowledge the difficulties and try to create a supportive team atmosphere to help us overcome the setbacks together.”
  • “I recognize everyone’s efforts and try to maintain an open environment to address the issues as a team.”

In these responses, the focus is positive and brings attention to moving forward without adding negativity to a team. 


Note: If you need time to think say, “That is a tough question and I’ve never considered that. Could you give me a moment to think?”

If you’d like more examples of how to respond when you don’t know the answer to a job interview question, check out my lesson 5 Ways to Respond to English Job Interview Questions When You Don’t Know the Answer.

Strategy 2: Focus on Empathy

This time let’s consider the job interview question: Share an example of when you had an upset customer or coworker. How did you handle the situation?

Let’s take a look at some common answers:

  • I apologized and told the customer that the delay was unexpected. Then, I requested their patience and understanding.”
  • “I didn’t really know what to do, so I asked my manager/coworker to handle it.”
  • “I apologized and said we’d find a solution to the situation. And then I quickly moved on.”

These responses minimize the validity of the other person’s pain or frustrations. In many ways, they lack empathy and emotional understanding.


Instead, the following responses can be used to highlight your EQ in a situation where a client or coworker is upset: 

  • They were understandably frustrated. When the client complained, I indicated that I understood their frustrations and apologized for the inconvenience.” 
  • “I listened carefully to their concerns and reassured them that my team and I would work quickly to fix the issue.”
  • “I maintained a calm and respectful tone while understanding the validity of their frustrations. I followed up by email afterward to express my appreciation for the concerns they shared and to let me them know my team and I were working to fix the problem.”

Each of these responses highlights your ability to show empathy, handle challenging situations with diplomacy, and find an appropriate solution.

Strategy 3: Emphasize a Growth Mindset

Imagine an interviewer asking: When you receive constructive feedback from a coworker or boss, how do you respond? What actions do you take?

Like question #1, when responding to this question, it’s important not to highlight the negative emotions or thoughts arising from the situation. Instead, focus on having a growth mindset.

A growth mindset indicates a belief that you always have the ability to grow, learn, and gain new skills through perseverance and effort.

Interviewers want to see that you are receptive to constructive feedback. 

Here are some answers to avoid:

  • “It caught me off-guard and it took some time to wrap my head around it.”
  • “I take in what is being shared and remain open. I don’t always agree with the feedback, so I maintain politeness throughout.”
  • “I don’t handle criticism well, so I have to remind myself not to get defensive.”

In contrast, these responses highlight your growth mindset and strong EQ:

  • I see it as an opportunity for growth and improvement. I may feel surprised, but I value the feedback and always work toward strengthening my skills.”
  • Once I’ve had time to process the feedback, I create an action plan to implement the suggestions.
  • After receiving feedback, I ask questions to better understand the suggestions. If necessary, I may also seek guidance or resources to help me improve.”
  • Feedback is essential for personal and professional development. I consider it a stepping stone and always welcome it.

These responses highlight your willingness to embrace feedback, your ability to reflect on it, and your proactiveness. 

Strategy 4: Showcase Your Communication Skills

Consider this common job interview question: Tell me about a time you had to work with a difficult coworker. How did you handle the situation?

In this question, interviewers are often looking for how well you’re able to communicate and remain objective. 

The following responses demonstrate a lack of communication and an inability to problem-solve:

  • “Their lack of time management affected our team’s productivity. I didn’t want to create tension so I did the tasks myself.”
  • “Eventually, my manager noticed the issue and discussed it with the person. I was relieved that my manager took care of it.”
  • “I talked about it with my other coworkers and in the end, I realized that you can’t do much about it.


To highlight your ability to address conflicts in a respectful manner and collaborate, you could say:

  • “I try my best to find common ground with the other person, especially when we have opposing viewpoints.
  • “I’ll often do a one-on-one with the person and, if possible, delegate tasks based on one’s strengths and ablities.”
  • “I look for ways to understand the other person and improve our collaboration. To do that, I set clear expectations, share progress updates, and find the best method of communication for the two of us.”

To highlight the success of these efforts, you could further add:

  • As a result of our efforts, we were able to benefit from our strengths to complement each other’s work and achieve our goals.”

Practice What You Learned

With these 4 strategies in mind, choose one of these common English job interview questions and consider how you would answer with an emphasis on resilience, empathy, a growth mindset, and communication skills.

  • Option 1: Describe a situation where you had to deal with a difficult coworker or client. How did you approach the situation, and what was the outcome?
  • Option 2: Describe a situation where you had to manage your time and workload effectively to meet a tight deadline. How did you handle the pressure and ensure quality work?

As always, you can share your comments and questions with me below.

~ Annemarie

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