Why Emotional Intelligence Should Be Considered When Hiring Applicant

The demand for soft skills is considered the topmost trend transforming the current workplace, creating significant value in emotional intelligence. 

In fact, soft skills carry as much weight or more in jobseeker selection, according to 92% of employers and their talent or human resource teams surveyed by LinkedIn.

Even though artificial intelligence has made rapid advances, organizations are still largely dependent on people not just for their knowledge, skills, and experience but also their attitude, problem-solving abilities, and time management techniques.

Soft Skills Are Founded on Emotional Intelligence

Soft skills or personal qualities such as interpersonal or communication skills, positive attitude, planning and organizing, and critical thinking are built on emotional intelligence (or EI, also referred to as emotional quotient or EQ). 

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and understand your emotions to better guide your thoughts and behavior, according to psychologists and college professors Peter Salovey and John Mayer who coined the term in the 1990s.

Meanwhile, psychologist and author Daniel Goleman says there are five components to emotional intelligence:

1. Self-awareness

Self-awareness is the ability to accurately notice what your emotions, limitations, strengths, and actions are and understand how they impact others. Self-awareness also refers to our openness to different experiences and learning from relating with people around us.

2. Self-regulation

Self-regulation is about appropriately expressing emotions. It’s controlling your disruptive impulses or emotions in order to adjust to new circumstances, manage conflict, or diffuse difficult situations. It also means taking ownership of your actions during tense situations.

3. Social skills

Social skills refer to how you manage relationships and influence others towards a certain direction. They cover verbal and non-verbal communication, active listening, developing rapport, and leadership.

4. Empathy

Empathy refers to being sensitive or considerate of others’ emotions before you decide on a particular action. It involves understanding the power dynamics in a situation and how they affect behavior and feelings.

5. Motivation

Motivation is having the drive to accomplish something in order to meet personal goals and gain rewards that could be recognition, fame, or money.

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters 

The demand for social and emotional skills is set to stay strong. The World Economic Forum predicts that in 2030, emotional intelligence-related work will grow by 26% in corporate America. 

Emotional intelligence will be a much-needed skill as enterprise leadership characterized by collaboration becomes the dominant management style among businesses, replacing the command and control structure.

Emotional intelligence is also listed in Udemy’s top 10 in-demand soft skills that employers review when it comes to hiring or granting a promotion or pay increase.

Do businesses benefit by having emotionally intelligent employees? Let’s find out.

Team success starts with self-awareness.

Nearly everyone thinks that they are self-aware but only 10% to 15% truly are, based on a five-year study by organizational psychologist and author Tasha Eurich.

Working with “self-unaware” colleagues can heighten stress and lower employee morale or motivation, reducing employee productivity and success levels by half. It can also set off high voluntary turnover

Emotionally intelligent employees know that more than just their words, their tone of communication and body language affect the way they understand and talk with others. 

They also recognize when they’re under high stress and know when they could reach their boiling point. They process their feelings in healthy ways so they can connect with others better and encourage the same connections within their teams.

Emotional intelligence makes good leaders.

In his 1995 book on emotional intelligence, Goleman said that people’s technical knowledge or IQ won’t get them far if they have low emotional intelligence. 

emotional intelligence made up about two-thirds of what’s needed for superior workplace performance, especially among leaders.

People of high emotional intelligence have a strong self-awareness and maximize their strengths to fulfill their dreams. They use the lessons they learned in bringing out the best in themselves to make others shine.

 This quality is highly esteemed of leaders, who are expected to promote creativity and excitement in the workplace.

Emotionally intelligent people are also able to assess the strengths and weaknesses of others because they’re active listeners. They use insights from interpersonal communication when making decisions, especially those affecting their team or other people. 

This is a necessary trait for leaders who need to influence and mentor others as well as manage conflict. Avoiding conflict resolution can result in gossip and other employee morale-damaging activities that can drain company time and resources.

Change becomes more manageable with emotional intelligence.

Emotionally intelligent people are more aware of new things happening and are open to change when others want to stick to their comfort zones. They’re not immune to fear, anxiety, and negative emotions accompanying change but acknowledge them as valid. 

Instead of getting tunnel vision, they accept that they have biases and consider multiple perspectives. They’re also willing to take risks. They don’t give up when they try a new approach which turns up falling short. 

They think through a problem and bring others together for feedback if necessary before deciding how to move forward. Emotional intelligence is therefore necessary to increase learning agility.

Workplace empathy increases job satisfaction.

Emotionally intelligent people can give the right response to an unacceptable or unpleasant situation because they delay giving judgment and try to see an issue from the other individual’s point of view. Or they simply aim for connection and compassion when they can’t relate to another person’s predicament at all.

This avoids gridlock, which can result in criticism, withdrawal, defensiveness, and contempt. The presence of these conditions can break down communication lines and take away happiness at work, causing distrust, low morale and productivity, and low job satisfaction.

How to Hire for Emotional Intelligence

Organizations that invest in an emotionally intelligent workforce experience up to four-fold return on investment

With these operational and financial benefits in mind, how can you spot and recruit more emotionally intelligent talents?

Integrate emotional intelligence/soft skills in your job ad.

Cite the emotional quotient requirements for the job vacancy or role besides the specific responsibilities, such as being a team player, a problem-solver, being able to negotiate, ability to influence key stakeholders, and so on.

Include emotional intelligence tests in the hiring process.

You can use standardized psychometric tests or any of these four primary emotional intelligence assessments: 

  • Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test
  • Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i 2.0)
  • Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI)
  • Genos Emotional Intelligence Inventory

Check body language and responses to questions during the job interview.

A job seeker’s verbal and non-verbal communication style can give away signs of emotional intelligence. Ask questions related to stressful situations such as:

  • What motivates you to do your work?
  • How do you handle conflict with a co-worker?
  • Can you describe a time you received critical feedback?
  • Can you describe a time when you had to be a part of an organizational change that you didn’t agree with? 
  • Can you share a time when you had to develop a solution to a problem under pressure?

You can ask the job seeker about their thoughts and feelings during the incident and the actions they took. 

Candidates with low self-awareness may have a hard time describing situations. Check for signs of avoiding tough situations, admitting mistakes, taking ownership of actions, and the ability to handle high-pressure situations.

Screening your jobseekers for emotional intelligence will help you arrive at a better hire. A successful candidate will be an additional building block to your company’s sustained performance and success.