Too often, hiring managers focus solely on education, work experience and technical skills when identifying potential talent. While all these factors are important and shouldn’t be discounted, it’s also important to pay attention to their behavior and emotional intelligence. If candidates lack emotional intelligence it will be difficult for them to be effective leaders, team members and develop meaningful relationships with customers, partners and vendors. Emotional intelligence refers to a person’s awareness of their own and others’ emotions, and the able to respond and adapt to situations and interactions based on what emotions are coming into play.
Signs of Emotional Intelligence in a Candidate
Hiring for emotional intelligence along with other factors such as education, experience and task-oriented knowledge and skills is sure to bring higher quality talent to your organization and increase your company’s bottom line. But many employers don’t know how to identify emotional intelligence in the hiring process. Here are some of the soft skills that indicate a high level of emotional intelligence in a candidate:
- Problem solving and critical thinking
- Resiliency (the ability to make mistakes and learn from them without dwelling on them)
- Honesty and integrity
- Being open to feedback
- The ability to perform well and cope under pressure
- Good listening skills
How to Interview for Emotional Intelligence
While psychometric testing can help you identify personality traits to an extent, it can be even more effective to identify emotional intelligence during job interviews. Emotional intelligence is easy to spot during the hiring process if you know the best way to conduct interviews and what to look for in the interview. Here are some tips on interviewing for emotional intelligence:
1) Ask them questions about challenging work situations
Once you get a general idea of the candidate’s education, experience and why they are interested in the position, ask them about past work situations that were challenging. To get a broader picture of how the candidate handles tough situations, ask about one situation that had a successful outcome, and one that didn’t. As the candidate describes the situation to you, continue to probe for details about what they thought along the way, how they felt, why they interacted with and the actions they took. This will give you a much better view into the candidate’s level of self-awareness and knowledge of how their behavior affects themselves and others in the workplace.
2) Look for descriptive adjectives and adverbs
When hiring for emotional intelligence, interviewers should look for candidates that give a lot of thought to their answers. They should appear as honest and candid as possible and use adjectives and adverbs abundantly to be as descriptive as possible about what happened in past work situations and how everyone involved felt and behaved.
3) Watch body language
How comfortable and confident the candidate feels during the interview will show you their level of emotional intelligence during the hiring process. While they may have good answers to questions, if they don’t exude confidence or don’t look you in the eye those can be signs that they lack integrity. They should appear engaged, smiling, nodding their head, sitting up straight and using hand gestures to further articulate what they are saying to you
4) Use references
When hiring for emotional intelligence, you may need more insight into a candidate that can’t be found in an interview (since they are likely to have some level of nervousness in the interview and haven’t gotten to know you well yet). Ask candidates for a few references of people that worked closely with them and can vouch for their behavior in the workplace. Have conversations with these references to inquire how they cope with stressful and challenging situations and work with other people.
Author: Jessica Cody
Jessica Cody, a native of Fairfield County, Connecticut, has a background in online marketing and public relations. Currently, she works at VHMNetwork LLC in the role of Marketing Analyst. She is a graduate of the University of Connecticut, where she studied Journalism and Political Science. She is also an avid runner with a passion for the outdoors.