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10 Tips for hiring emotionally intelligent staff.

Updated: Nov 28, 2021

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is a term with increasing importance for hiring managers. It refers to a person’s ability to control their own emotions; and to sense, understand and react to the emotions of others. As a key factor in successful relationships, emotional intelligence is a vital skill for the workplace. At The Admin Shop, we are experts in smoothing the recruitment process and helping recruiters assess the emotional intelligence of potential employees. Here are our ten tips for hiring managers looking to recruit an emotionally intelligent team.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence is defined as a person’s ability to read and understand the emotions of the people around them, as well as their own.

Why is emotional intelligence important in the workplace?

A recent survey found that 71% of employers valued emotional intelligence (EQ) over IQ, while 61% of employers are more likely to promote workers with high EQ over those with high IQ. So why is this skill so important in the workplace? The employers surveyed stated they favoured those with high emotional intelligence because:

  • They were more likely to stay calm under pressure

  • They knew how to resolve conflict effectively

  • They were empathetic to fellow team members, therefore building stronger teams

  • They lead by example

  • They learn from their mistakes

  • They listen

  • They can take criticism

Ten Tips for hiring managers seeking emotionally intelligent employees

#1 - Look for people keen to learn

A team will always be stronger than an individual, no matter how brilliant. While you need employees to be confident in their own abilities, arrogance doesn’t translate well into a team context. An interviewee who gives credit where it is due to mentors and colleagues and who is open to learning new skills will likely be far more emotionally intelligent.

#2 - Look for those who work on themselves

Someone who is able to recognise their own true weakness has spent time in self-reflection. They have developed their critical thinking and have learnt to process criticism. The question “what is your greatest weakness?” might seem tired, but it can be a valuable tool for a hiring manager.

#3 - Look for those who build relationships

It can be hard to distinguish candidates when they all hold similar qualifications and experience. So take note of the candidate who starts to build a relationship with the company, perhaps through showing interest in company culture, reflecting on a question they wish they had answered differently or delivering a handwritten note after the interview. These will be the people swift to build successful working relationships too.

#4- Look for someone who can embrace silence

Notice the candidates who pause before answering your questions, even if the silence seems uncomfortable. They are the ones who think through their answers before replying, indicating high emotional intelligence.

#5 - Listen for great questions

A candidate who asks you thoughtful questions about the company and the role isn’t just going through the motions. They are demonstrating a depth of perception corresponding with a high EQ.

#6 - Look for previous examples of emotional intelligence

Finding out what they thought and felt in previous relevant situations can demonstrate whether they possess a good level of emotional intelligence.

#7 - Question their approach to resolving conflict

This can be a clear indicator of someone’s ability to understand the viewpoints of others.

# 8 - Ask them to tell you about a time when they made a mistake

Here you are really interested in the way the mistake was dealt with and whether the candidate has learnt from the experience.

# 9 - Ask them to come up with a creative solution under pressure

By creating a stressful situation, you will force an emotional response from the candidate and be able to assess their EQ.

#10 - Ask them to give you an example of a time when a change was instituted that they didn’t agree with. Then ask them to explain how they reacted to this change.

Once again, this approach will reveal the candidate’s ability to negotiate complex relationships using their emotional intelligence.


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