Toss Your Resume, Polish Your EQ

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Take a look at this picture. Is she happy, fearful, sad or surprised?

How you answer may mean getting a job, or being rejected.

The question tests your ability to recognize emotion. (The correct answers are based on general and expert consensus.) Other questions may be designed to identify a candidate's strengths and weaknesses, offer insight into personality, predict behavior on the job or ability to fit into an organization.

This sample question is adapted from one of a number of standard tests of emotional intelligence that are increasingly being used by employers to evaluate job candidates.

According to a new article for Knowledge@Wharton, the online journal of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, about 20 percent of organizations now use emotional intelligence tests as a tool to help decide who to hire or promote. Nearly three-quarters of human resource professionals surveyed said the tests are helpful in predicting behavior and organizational "fit."

In fact, some research indicates that your EQ is more important than your IQ. People with high EQs tend to make better decisions, and get along better with their bosses and their peers. They are top performers, keep their emotions under control and focus on the job.

In some cases, a "right" or "wrong" answers may depend on the position the candidate is being considered for. The Wharton article, for example, relates an anecdote about a company that rejected a candidate for chief financial officer because his test results showed that he was very optimistic, but had low self-esteem. Their ideal candidate for CFO, apparently, would be mildly pessimistic but have high self-esteem.

It's not only candidates for high-level jobs who are tested for EQ these days. Retailers, call centers and security firms are using short web-based tests as part of a pre-screening process for people applying for jobs that require dealing with the public.

They can be especially valuable for evaluating candidates for entry-level jobs. After all, they don't have a track record to show.

The test also may help separate the best candidate from the best interviewee. And, it can reduce the impact of a highly subjective factor-that is, whether the candidate just happens to "click" with the person conducting the interview.

Management consultants also are coaching people on how to use their emotional intelligence on the job. Susan David, of the Harvard Business School, has coached people on how to use emotional intelligence to have a difficult conversation with a colleague.

Because, in work as in life, suppressing emotions in yourself, or failing to recognize them in others, can lead to really bad results.

You can test your own emotional intelligence online. Here are two to try:
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