Emotional Stability: Balance of Individual Feelings

The emotional stability trait measures to what extent a person is able to cope with daily life and its challenges. Overall, it demonstrates how people are able to balance their feelings and whether they are emotionally reactive or calm and even-tempered. The emotional stability trait has a range which includes two opposite poles namely Reactive and Adaptive. Let’s examine both poles to better understand how we assess this specific trait.

Reactive: When faced with certain circumstances, reactive individuals are affected by feelings. They experience more ups and downs in their moods than most people and they tend to have a low tolerance for frustration or disappointment. In the workplace, reactive individuals wait for an incident to happen and then will react.

Descriptors: reactive emotionally, changeable, affected by feelings

Adaptive: People who are able to calmly face reality. They rarely run into a problem they cannot handle and usually recover quickly from a negative event. They tend to have the ability to put their feelings aside and face problems in a more calm and realistic way. When confronted with a problem in the workplace, adaptive individuals usually bounce back and get the job done.

Descriptors: emotionally stable, adaptive, mature, faces reality calmly

Emotional stability Interview Guide

The interview questions listed below can draw revealing answers about the degree of how emotionally stable a candidate is and get you on your way to finding whether employees are reactive or adaptive in the workplace.

Note: There is no right or wrong answer, the answer you are seeking is based on what best fits the role and your company culture.

Top 2 questions and expected answers for each end of the scale

1. We can sometimes recognize a small problem and fix it before it becomes a major problem. Give an example of how you acted to prevent a larger problem from occurring.

Reactive: Individuals who score closer towards the reactive end of the scale are most likely to answer that they usually prefer to deal with a problem when it appears instead of acting proactively to prevent it. In case a major problem appears they will probably report that they experienced high levels of stress and emotional fluctuations where they felt difficulty to cope due to the increased demands or to the overly challenging circumstances they encountered.

Adaptive: Individuals who score closer towards the adaptive end of the scale are most likely to answer that since they were able to recognize the small problem before it gets more severe they resolved it with patience and persistence. Adaptive individuals are realistic and they accept the fluctuations of life as something inevitable which allows them to be more proactive, to calmly face problems, to take corrective actions and bounce back quicker from obstacles.

2. Tell me about a time when you found yourself in unfamiliar territory: a new situation. How did you adapt to this situation? What was the eventual outcome?

Reactive: Individuals who score closer towards the reactive end of the scale are most likely to answer that they generally dislike having to deal with something that is not familiar to them. Given that they tend to react strongly to stress they will probably share that they found the new task or situation distressing and they tried their hardest to cope with the challenging circumstances.

Adaptive: Individuals who score closer towards the adaptive end of the scale are most likely to answer that they remained calm when they were called to deal with something that was unfamiliar to them. They are likely going to respond that they were able to put their feelings aside to realistically assess the situation and plan the next steps and find the necessary resources to cope. Given that they are goal-oriented people they will persist until they conquer the unfamiliar territory.

Question pool:

3. Describe a situation in which you forecasted a problem and prepared a strategy for handling it. How did it turn out?

4. Describe a situation where you had to deal with someone who didn't like you (or you didn’t like). How did you handle it?

5. Tell me about a time when you had to use coping strategies when dealing with a high-pressure situation?

6. Occasionally our work is judged or criticized unfairly or our intent is misunderstood. Can you tell me about a recent situation that fits this description? How did you react?


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