We examined the direct and moderated effects of an ability-based measure of emotional intelligence (MSCEIT© V2.0) on individual performance in a sample of business undergraduates. Controlling for general mental ability and personality, emotional intelligence explained unique incremental variance in performance ratings on only one of two measures of interpersonal effectiveness (public speaking effectiveness). However, the interaction of emotional intelligence with conscientiousness explained unique incremental variance both in public speaking and group behavior effectiveness, as well as academic performance (cumulative GPA). We conclude that the effects of emotional intelligence on performance are more indirect than direct in nature. Individuals must not only have emotional intelligence, but also must be motivated to use it. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.