Date posted: 05/11/2018

How to use IQ and EQ to your advantage

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While IQ (intelligence quotient) has long been synonymous with one’s level of intelligence1 and may be a predictor of career success2, experts and research now suggests that EQ (emotional intelligence) potentially plays a greater role in career development and the increased salaries that go with it3. But from an employer's perspective, which one is more desirable than the other? How can you showcase the best of both in a job interview?

Let's begin by taking a look at what they mean and how they contrast. As you read, think about which resonates most with you.

What does IQ look like?

IQ is a number derived from standardised intelligence testing designed to sum up one's academic aptitude. It represents areas of skill such as:

  • Quantitative reasoning and the application of mathematics
  • Short term and working memory
  • Visual and spatial awareness
  • World knowledge
  • Problem solving

What does EQ look like?

EQ aligns with one's emotional intelligence; the ability to perceive the emotions and motivations of others while controlling one's own. EQ is difficult to measure in number form compared to IQ, but tests such as the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT)4 exist for those interested in gauging their own EQ abilities, which centre around the following:

  • Identifying and processing emotion
  • Empathy and evaluating how others feel
  • Self-awareness
  • Openness and the ability to relate or connect to other people
  • Control over thoughts, feelings and actions
Focus your attention on building connections with people. Sometimes that's as simple as asking somebody what they do outside of work over a cup of tea.
Sue Langley, Founder and CEO of the Langley Group.

Battle of the brains: Is IQ or EQ more important?

To gain an expert perspective of IQ and EQ applications, we spoke to the founder and CEO at the Langley Group, Sue Langley, who specialises in promoting personal development in the workplace through the applications of positive psychology and neuroscience.

According to Sue, both IQ and EQ ultimately matter to employers, but because emotional intelligence is more challenging to measure compared to standardised IQ testing, it can be overlooked during the on-boarding process.

"Employers tend to value EQ after someone is recruited, especially when they are looking to promote into leadership and management positions. Conversely, low EQ and poor behaviour is what typically results in termination," Sue explains.

A study published in the Journal of Vocational Behaviour in August 20173 revealed that university students in the United States who scored highly for EQ have significant and positive effect on subsequent salary levels.

Thankfully, Sue says it's much easier to develop your emotional intelligence than improve your IQ, especially as you advance into adulthood.

Sue Langley

Sue Langley, Founder and CEO of the Langley Group.

Tips for improving IQ and EQ in a new workplace

When it comes to demonstrating IQ in a new job, especially as a graduate, Sue says that employers want to see that you're a fast learner and are able to retain new information. Even if this isn't your strong suit, Sue suggests you make friends with your notebook.

"The physical act of writing is more likely to embed information in our memory than typing," she says.

A number of online applications and programs claim to improve IQ, but Sue says these don't necessarily translate into other cognitive functions and your best bet for improving your IQ is by reading more.

"I don't care whether it's a book or on a tablet, but read, learn and be curious about your area of expertise and other fields. You don't have to show off what you know all the time, but you can start to make connections between different areas of knowledge that can serve you professionally, such as responding intelligently in business meetings."

In terms of improving one's emotional intelligence, Sue describes this as the ability to assimilate into your professional environment quickly and effortlessly.

"As a graduate, you won't necessarily have enough professional experience in the workplace to feel like you fit in. Instead, focus your attention on building connections with people. Sometimes that's as simple as asking somebody what they do outside of work over a cup of tea," she says.

Adaptability is a huge part of EQ. Employers want to know that you can handle feedback and even bounce back from a fail.

"You've got to learn how to be resilient. Know that you aren't always going to get it right and that getting feedback doesn't mean you're a bad person. It's an opportunity to grow and learn. My advice to graduates in the middle of first-time feedback at work is to pick yourself up, get on with it and give it another crack."

Improving on your EQ will do wonders when you're interviewing for your first jobs out of university - especially if you're prone to nervousness in such situations.

"Pay attention to how your emotions are impacting you physically. We feel emotions in our bodies, so for example when we get scared or anxious our heart rate increases, and we experience tension."

"This is quite often the case in job interviews, they can feel extremely daunting to us. If you notice you're breathing faster and your heart rate has increased, stop, perhaps find yourself a bathroom to take space and put yourself in the strongest position possible. Smile at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you're okay. Your physiology directly impacts how you feel," Sue says.

Finally, Sue recommends being true to yourself and owning how you feel.

"You can always tell when someone is trying to use bravado. I would much rather somebody new walked into my office and say, "Oh, I'm feeling a bit nervous," than pretend they are all cool, blasé or ultra-confident."