Learn to Hire for Emotional Intelligence

How important Emotional Intelligence is in the work environment?

According to John D. Mayor from the University of New Hampshire, Emotional Intelligence (EI) refers to an ability to recognize the meanings of emotions and their relationships and to reason and problem-solve on the basis of them. EI is involved in the capacity to perceive emotions, assimilate emotion-related feelings, understand the information of those emotions and manage them.

It is widely believed that EI has a strong impact on the work environment and how co-workers are able to relate to one another and work together. A discussion on EI is important because it can shape how we approach our work, co-workers and work environment as a whole. Understanding the way that people feel about certain situations in the workplace can increase productivity. Having EI enables individuals to communicate with co-workers in a more productive and understanding way.

This ultimately increases overall communication in a business which translates directly into client relationships as well as company efficiency. EI is not just the ability to read the feelings of others, but more importantly being aware of how we ourselves feel and how that affects others. Daniel Goleman, author of Primal Leadership: The Hidden Driver of Great Performance says new research shows that a leader’s mood plays a key role in improving results and the mood of others. If a leader works to be positive and tries to relate to their colleagues, there is a larger chance that the team as a whole will feel more accomplished and valued in their daily tasks at work.

Although research is fairly new, people have taken to the ideas that understanding EI can help identify who may be a successful manager or leader, not just who is “smarter.” Hiring managers have started hiring for EI rather than just merit and experience. There are a few strategies to do this. Annie McKee from The Harvard Business Review gives two approaches. The first is to get references from candidates and actually have a conversation with the references including specific and pointed questions about how the candidate demonstrated various EI competencies in their past employment. The second is to interview specifically for EI by using behavioural event interviewing. This includes making the candidate feel comfortable in the interview and having a more informal conversation about past work situations and experiences in which they had to overcome an obstacle, problem-solve, or relate to others.

What are your opinions of EI? What do you like or dislike about hiring for EI?

Do you think EI should be taught and practiced in the workplace? Do you think it´s effective to hire for emotionally intelligent people?

What other methods might you suggest in order to find candidates with high EI?

Are there ways that you as a human resource manager already look for emotionally intelligent hires?


Sarah Lassen


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