Emotional Intelligence (EI) is more than an HR buzz word. It is very important to consider a candidates emotional intelligence when hiring for a vacancy. A study published by OfficeTeam, titled “Emotional Intelligence at Work” was the result of a comprehensive survey of over 600 HR professionals and over 800 office workers. It is very interesting and telling that the overwhelming majority of HR managers and office workers, 99 percent and 95 percent respectively, believe that it is important for employees to have high emotional intelligence. A few of the indicators of EI are judgement, assertiveness, empathy, impulse control, well developed capacities in these areas and other important EI indicators are more often determinants of success over education and intelligence.
Emotional Intelligence is defined as:
“the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.”
The Wikipedia definition takes EI a bit further, Emotional Intelligence:
“is the capability of individuals to recognize their own and other people’s emotions, discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt to environments or achieve one’s goal(s)”
As a hiring manager it is important to know the correct questions to ask during an interview; ones that are geared to shine light on the individuals’ true self and their level of self-awareness. Questions of this nature are called behaviour-based questions. Here are a few great behaviour-based questions to consider asking during an interview:
- Tell us about a time when your experienced conflict at work. How did you manage it and were you able to resolve it?
- Can you describe a situation (project/event) at work that didn’t go as planned? How did you manage it?
- What would your peers say are your best five character traits?
The answers received will reveal much about the candidates’ emotional intelligence. Look out for answers that place blame on others verses accepting responsibility personally, do they acknowledge their own shortcomings or do they present as defensive? During the interview watch the candidates’ body language; do they seem genuinely interested in the position and the company; how did they interact with you at the outset of the interview; did they avoid the banter or were they open and engaging? There are so many cues to watch for but when you do you will begin to develop a good idea of who this person really is and how they manage themselves, their emotions and the emotions of others. Moreover you will also begin to see if they will be a good fit for the current team of employees.
Another way to determine a potential hires’ EI is through their references. Be sure to ask the reference how the candidate listens to others, resolves conflict, responds to criticism and how well they interact with their peers. Their answers will help you to form a better idea of the candidates’ capacity for emotional intelligence and whether or not they will be a good fit.
Psychometric and personality tests are excellent tools to utilize as a part of the hiring strategy and they are designed to reveal the potential hires true self. Be wary of free online tests. These are not going to give you the answers you are looking for. There are many reputable paid tests delivered by companies specializing in personality and aptitude tests. They can be found for almost every sector that there is so you’re sure to find one that is industry specific.
If you’re unsure that EI has a place in business consider these results of the above-mentioned study by OfficeTeam:
The greatest benefit of having employees with high emotional intelligence, according to HR managers:
- 43% Increased motivation/morale
- 21% Improved leadership
- 19% Better collaboration
- 16% Effective conflict resolution
An employee with high emotional intelligence is poised for success and that’s the person you want to join your team.