Every smart employer recognises the value of hiring emotionally intelligent team member for their workplace. The person with emotional intelligence can utilise the understanding of their emotions in a positive way to relieve stress, communicate effectively, build positive relationships, and effectively overcome challenges and conflict.

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

As artificial intelligence and machine learning take over the dull and dangerous jobs, emotional intelligence skills will be more critical in the workplace.

More importantly, emotional intelligence is far more important than IQ and technical skills combined in figuring out who will be a star performer on your team. Your star performers are usually the organisation’s leaders – even if they don’t lead a team.

These leaders set the tone for the entire workplace. Understanding how their own emotions impact those around them can lead to far more productive workplaces.

Emotionally intelligent employees are valuable and help build high functioning teams. And as you know, fantastic teams do outstanding and innovative work.

So how do you interview to identify emotional intelligence?

Look for people who embody learning.

We always tend to shift our focus towards people who are confident in their abilities and skills, but you also don’t want to hire people who are full of their own self-importance and unwilling to learn from others. Brilliant people who know they are marvellous can spell the quick downfall of a team.

You can search for someone who is confident and communicates this well. But it would be best if you also looked for those who share what they have learned from mentors, advisors and colleagues.

They are the people who give credit to others who have helped them to become the person they are today. Rather than focusing on themselves and indicating they have been the sole defining factor of their success.

Look for Individuals who Aren’t Afraid to Grow and Expand

You know the old question – Tell us about a weakness you have. This question has been losing its tarnish lately. But should it? It actually allows us to identify emotional intelligence in candidates.

This question tells a lot about an individual’s willingness to identify a genuine weakness and develop a plan to strengthen it. To do this well, you must engage in deep self-reflection, seek critical feedback, and successfully and appropriately analyse the incoming information. This skill often takes an age to develop if it’s not learned early in life.

They Aren’t Afraid of Silence

Most interviewees answer every interview question immediately – without hesitation. This is because they fear appearing weak or losing their nerve if they pause before an answer.  

Look for the applicants who adopt the rule of awkward silence. They aren’t fearful of pausing for a few seconds and reflecting, to ensure they answer correctly and thoughtfully.

Notice the Relationship Builders

The relationship builders are the ones who stand out. They ask thoughtful and pointed questions. It’s crystal clear they have done their research. They send a handwritten note to say thank you for the interview. They may have given an example in their interview where they instigated two people’s connection, without expecting any return.

Candidates who use emotion to build connection are ones where you will know have excellent relationship management skills—a hallmark of emotional intelligence.

Get References and Speak with Them Personally

Letters of reference aren’t good enough for understanding a candidate and their ability for emotional intelligence. When you speak with a referee, ask specific questions about how the candidate demonstrated various emotional intelligence skills. Drill down on experiences where they have received negative feedback about their performance and what they did to improve. How they treated others on the team and how they managed other people’s difficult emotions.

Welcome Great Questions

A good job interview is a dialogue. It’s not just for the company’s potential benefit to find an excellent fit for a team. It’s also a chance for the candidate to determine if the company matches their needs.

Look for candidates who use thoughtful questions to gather information about the organisation and its culture. They could ask about the company values or the current challenges facing the team they are potentially joining.  

By asking these questions, you know they aren’t just attending an interview to get a job. They are not self-focused, there to find out how much money, days off and sick leave they will get in their package.

It demonstrates they have given some thought to the process. They are seriously considering how your company will fit with their values and aspirations for the future.

Figuring out how to hire for emotional intelligence takes time, and it isn’t always easy. If you do it properly, your company will get the best person with the right skills and the additional bonus of emotional intelligence. This is a magnificent combination for your organisation’s future success.

Categories: Coaching & Mentoring


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