There’s a lot that you look for in hospitality job candidates. You need them to meet the requirements of the role. You want them to be a good match for your organization’s culture and values. You want them to do their research and ask smart questions. 

And, if you’re like most hospitality employers, you want them to possess a high level of emotional intelligence (EI). 

So, what are the best emotional intelligence tests that are worth instituting in your hiring process? 



What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, which you might also hear referred to as EI, emotional quotient, or EQ, is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. 

While it’s become a bit of a buzzword, it’s still an undeniably important trait—especially in the workplace. One survey found that 95% of HR managers and 99% of employees say it’s important for professional staff to have a high level of emotional intelligence. 

Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important in Hospitality?

So, why has emotional intelligence spent so much time in the spotlight in recent years? Well, because it carries a lot of weight, particularly in customer-focused industries like tourism and hospitality. 

Let’s look at a few of the core benefits of emotional intelligence that prove it’s worth focusing on. 

1. Deliver a Superior Guest or Customer Experience

Emotional intelligence plays a huge role in our interactions with other people. When your staff members are better equipped to understand how they or other people feel, they can engage with them in a far more productive way. 

Whether it’s a patron who’s unhappy with their meal or a guest who appears to be frustrated with the check-in process at a hotel, employees who have high emotional intelligence can recognize and manage emotions to mitigate conflict and deliver a high-quality experience for your customers. 

2. Maintain High Team Morale

Emotional intelligence doesn’t just benefit your customers—it helps your internal team as well. They’re able to recognize, understand, and handle each other's feelings with care and consideration.

This mindfulness level can reduce friction on your team, boost morale, and lead to a far more positive culture within your hospitality organization. 

3. Reduce Staff Turnover

The hospitality industry has a notoriously high turnover rate, which can make you feel like you’re on a hamster wheel. You get employees trained and up to speed, only to have them move on at a rapid pace.

Fortunately, emotional intelligence can help. When it boosts morale and engagement, it simultaneously makes your staff members want to stick around. Additionally, when your managers and supervisors have high emotional intelligence, they can better spot problem areas on their teams, proactively address issues, and hopefully prevent staff from jumping ship. 

→💡  Learn how to expand your emotional intelligence to be a better leader

How to Test Emotional Intelligence in an Interview

There are plenty of benefits to a high level of emotional intelligence, and you’ve decided it’s something you want to prioritize as you make hiring decisions for your hospitality organization.

But, emotional intelligence is intangible and somewhat difficult to wrap your arms around. That begs the question: How do you test emotional intelligence in a job interview? Here are four strategies that can help you get a grasp on this important quality.

1. Ask Targeted Interview Questions

You can understand a lot about a candidate’s emotional intelligence by asking the right interview questions. 

Behavioral interview questions in particular, which ask interviewees to provide a real example from their professional history to answer a question, will give you a much better sense of how they respond in different circumstances. Here are a few that are helpful to ask: 

  • Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a coworker. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you received constructive criticism. How did you respond?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with an unhappy customer or guest. How did you manage the situation?
  • Tell me about a time when you let your emotions interfere with your performance at work. What did you learn from that experience? 

Those questions can reveal a lot, and they help you go beyond hypotheticals and understand more about how that person conducts themselves and approaches relationships with colleagues and customers.

However, it’s helpful to throw some non-behavioral questions in the mix as well, such as: 

  • Do you keep in contact with any of your past coworkers or supervisors?
  • What is your biggest pet peeve in a professional environment?
  • What does a good day look like for you? What about a bad day?
  • What are your greatest strengths at work?
  • What’s an area you think you need to focus on improving? 

Not all of these questions explicitly ask about emotional intelligence, but they still give you a more holistic picture of that candidate’s values and behavior. For example, if they say they don’t keep in touch with any past colleagues, that could indicate that they don’t forge close bonds in a professional environment. 

2. Pay Attention to Nonverbal Cues 

A job interview is a stressful situation, which means it’ll show you a lot about how a candidate can manage their emotions when nerves are running high. 

In addition to carefully listening to their answers to interview questions, you should also pay close attention to their nonverbal communication. This includes their posture, gestures, facial expressions, inflection, and more. 

Perhaps an applicant is fidgeting, shuffling their feet, and unable to focus on answering interview questions thoroughly. That could mean that they’re unable to put their emotions aside or manage them in a way that allows them to be productive.

Keep in mind that nerves are normal, and body language cues alone shouldn’t be the determining factor for whether or not a candidate possesses emotional intelligence. But, when combined with some of the other tips here, they can help you better grasp how skilled an applicant is at managing their emotions. 

3. Provide Adequate Training for Interviewers and Managers

Assessing emotional intelligence is difficult to do if you or whoever is conducting your job interviews don’t have the necessary training. Whoever performs your job interviews should be equipped with information about: 

  • How to engage in conversation before jumping into questions
  • Interview questions to understand emotional intelligence
  • What to look for in answers
  • Body language cues and indicators

The more you, your leadership team, and any other interviewers or decision-makers understand about emotional intelligence, the easier time you’ll have to evaluate it in your job applicants. 

4. Use an Emotional Intelligence Test

A formalized emotional intelligence assessment will give you the most accurate picture when it comes to understanding a candidate’s level of emotional intelligence. 

Here’s the gist of how these assessments work: People answer a series of questions related to emotional intelligence, and they’re then scored on a scale that indicates their ability to recognize and manage emotions.

We’ve pulled together the best emotional intelligence tests for hospitality recruitment in a helpful guide that will get delivered directly to your inbox.