Top 7 Tips to Hire for Emotional Intelligence

After Artificial Intelligence, Emotional Intelligence is the new aspect that employers are looking for today in candidates. Read on to find out how to hire for Emotional Intelligence…

It has been often said that Emotionally Intelligent Managers and employees bring tremendous value to a company. People who understand and manage their own emotions and those of others make better leaders in the long run. According to a study in Industrial and Commercial Training, organizations with more emotionally intelligent employees have more engaged and satisfied employees. In today’s rapidly evolving and expanding work environment, it takes more than technical skills or qualifications and soft skills for an employee to thrive, and employers are turning to a new indicator of an employee’s potential success — emotional intelligence (EQ). All of this makes it extremely important for hiring managers to focus on the Emotional Quotient of their employees and their candidates while hiring. Read this blog to find out what is Emotional Intelligence, why it is important and the top 7 tips to hire for Emotional Intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand your own emotions and recognize the emotions and motivations of those around you. It is a set of skills that allows us to perceive, understand, evaluate and manage emotions in ourselves and others. As per a definition by Zerorisk HR, emotional intelligence is defined as “a set of competencies demonstrating the ability one has to recognize his or her behaviors, moods, and impulses, and to manage them best according to the situation”. It includes traits such as emotional awareness, empathy, accurate recognition of others’ moods, and mood management.

What is the importance of Emotional Intelligence for an organization?

Research shows that when employers are trying to find top performers, they should start by looking at emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence counts for twice as much as IQ and technical skills combined in determining who will be a top performer. Leaders who possess a high level of EQ can effectively communicate and work with customers, partners, and co-workers, which ultimately fosters a positive and productive work environment. If all of the leaders within your organization possessed a high level of emotional intelligence, it would create a strong sense of synergy among your team and empower every employee to succeed. The extraordinary communication and collaboration that EQ leaders cultivate would also enable your business to overcome various challenges and strengthen the company’s chances of reaching its full potential.

What to look for when hiring for Emotional Intelligence?

In order to hire for Emotional Intelligence, the following four characteristics should be kept in mind by all recruiters. These four characteristics act as four pillar when organizations want to hire for emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-Awareness: Self-Awareness is said to be at the core of high EQ. When you are self-aware, you understand your strengths, weaknesses, motivations, and how others perceive you. You’re also confident in who you are both emotionally and physically.
  2. Self-Management: Self-management refers to “managing one’s’ internal states, impulses, and resources.” This includes effectively controlling your emotions, taking initiative to act on opportunities, and adapting to changes. Maintaining a positive attitude and striving to exceed or improve expectations are important traits as well.
  3. Social Awareness: Social awareness mainly deals with how people handle relationships, and how aware they are of others’ feelings, needs and concerns. Being empathetic is a critical component to being socially aware, as empathy allows us to understand and care about others feelings and perspectives.
  4. Relationship Management: Leaders with high EQ successfully manage relationships mainly by inspiring, guiding, influencing and developing others. These leaders also initiate or manage change whenever necessary, and negotiate or resolve disagreements to maintain respect and synergy. Many recruiters interview candidates about their relationship management skills without even realizing it.

7 Tips to Hire for Emotional Intelligence

1. Learn to read body language

Learning how to interpret body language gives you a leg up when you hire. Many tells, like raised eyebrows or a clenched jaw, reveal discomfort (even when words say otherwise), or what the candidate is really passionate about (for instance, mirrored body language and length of eye contact). This helps you better understand whether your candidate is suited for the role. Learning to recognize candidates’ subtle mannerisms can give you an extra edge in evaluating who you should hire.

2. Look for evidence of high and low EQ in candidates

Once you learn to spot behaviors indicative of the four emotional intelligence pillars: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management skills, you’re a big step ahead. For example, a candidate who repeats a question back to you to confirm he/she understood it correctly is demonstrating good relationship management. While that’s a very small behavior, combining many over the course of an interview paints a clear picture of who you should hire. If you have a number of candidates with the same level of technical skills, then these EQ skills are the deciding factor that will rule someone in and out.

3. Assess outside of the interview

Pay special attention to how candidates behave before, during, and after the interview. How do they treat your staff? In the case of virtual interviews, this might be a bit difficult to observe. However, small behavioral and responsive traits can be used in this regard. Seemingly small behaviors provide valuable information on how a candidate will fit in with your employees, as well as how they’ll treat your customers.

4. Ask probing questions

Many interviewers have the same question set that they use for all candidate interviews — with some job-specific questions sprinkled in. You already have the candidate’s resume in front of you, and the interview is your opportunity to probe deeper and get beyond technical skills and background. Asking layers of probing questions will help you understand how the candidate adapts to change and challenges. The key to probing deeper during an interview is to go beyond candidates’ canned responses to your questions.

5. Get references and talk to them

If you get references while interviewing a candidate, don’t just keep them for future reference purposes. Call them up and make effective use of them. Letters of reference simply aren’t good enough when it comes to understanding your candidate’s EI. When you talk with a reference, you can ask specific and pointed questions about how the candidate demonstrated various EI competencies. Get lots of examples, with lots of detail. Specifically, ask for examples of how your candidate treats other people.

6. Interview for emotional intelligence

Make sure that you interview candidates specifically from the point of view of assessing their Emotional Intelligence. Even if this sounds like an easy task, most of the time recruiters are overlooking this aspect. That’s because we allow people to be vague in their responses and fail to ask good follow-up questions. Even when we ask candidates directly about EI or EI-related competencies, they talk about an idealized notion of themselves and what they’d like to be, rather than how they really behave.

7. Use a proper feedback mechanism

Recognize that your current employees are going to have to work with the new hire every single day, so ask them for feedback. You should collect information from everyone who had contact with the candidate throughout the hiring process. After all, you’re looking for someone who will complement the team holistically, rather than just filling a skills gap. Show your current employees that you value their opinions and happiness at work.

In Short

Even though Emotional Intelligence is just one piece of the hiring process, it is an important one- the one that cannot be ignored. When you use them to hire the right personnel, it leads to an increase in productivity, a reduction in Employee Turnover and better retention rates, and a healthy workplace. Hence, it is important for recruiters to keep in mind these 7 tips to hire for emotional intelligence. Bringing in high-EQ individuals elevates the performance of existing employees and helps build the culture that you want for your company.

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Suchismita Panda