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Emotional Intelligence: The Most Overlooked Candidate Skill

In Interviews — by Dave Anderson


The workplace is an interesting environment. It’s a collection of different people who come together to work toward a common goal. In order to achieve success, everyone has to get along and support each other.

But life is a roller coaster and humans are emotional creatures. It’s natural to feel happy, sad, excited, angry or whatever else from day-to-day. The key is to understand your emotions and express them in a healthy way that is received well by others.

People who are able to maintain an even-keeled demeanor at work aren’t robots. They’re what is known as emotionally intelligent. They keep their feelings in check so they don’t throw off the flow of the workplace.

Companies want to prevent employee conflicts and hiring emotionally intelligent people is one of the best ways to do so. But unlike skills and work experience, a person’s ability to manage their feelings is hard to screen for.

In this blog post, you’ll learn how to identify emotional intelligence when hiring and what personality qualities to look for.

How to screen for emotional intelligence

Hiring emotionally intelligent people is a challenge. Everyone turns up the positivity during interviews and the first few months on the job. But it can wear off once they settle in and the honeymoon phase passes.

It’s important to search for candidates who possess the personality qualities your company values. That’s easier said than done but these tips can help you get started at hiring emotionally intelligent employees:

  • Make it part of your hiring process Some companies have a “No Jerks Policy” or ask hiring team members to consider if they would hang out with a candidate outside the office. Exercises like these ensures a new hire gels with their team, above all else.
  • Include it in your job descriptions – Define the personality traits you need your new hire to have. But got beyond short, cliche phrases like “team player” and “works well under pressure.” Create a complete personality profile and make it known you’re seeking that type of person.
  • Conduct group interviews – Seeing how a person interacts in a group setting is a great way to understand their social skills and how they’ll fit in with your team. Do they make eye contact with everyone? Do they address the room when speaking? Do they treat each interviewer equally?
  • Let everyone give feedback – Everyone picks up different unconscious cues from people. Encourage each interviewer to share their observations and try to form a general consensus of the group’s takeaway.
  • Ask insightful interview questions – Asking questions like “What didn’t you like about your last job?” or “Tell me about a problem you faced and how you resolved it” can help you understand a candidate’s ability to learn from negative experiences and move on.
  • Observe how a candidate behaves outside the interview room – Are they friendly to the person at the front desk? Do they greet and thank the different people they meet? Or if you meet for lunch or coffee, observe how they treat the waitstaff.
  • Check references – Speaking with people who previously worked with a candidate can provide the best insight into how they deal with difficult workplace situations.

At the end of the day, good people hire other good people. Make emotional intelligence a priority when hiring and it will continue to pay off as your company grows.

Cut through the jargon: Emotional intelligence examples

So what does an emotionally intelligent person actually look like? Think of people you’ve enjoyed working with in the past and why. They likely excelled at their job and were pleasant to spend the workday with. Here are some specific traits emotionally intelligent people tend to have:

  • Team player – They work for the greater good of their team and company. They appreciate being embraced but don’t need it. They trust their hard work is recognized.
  • Positive and down to earth – They take common work issues in stride instead of being easily rattled. But they don’t wear rose-colored glasses and ignore an issue or diminish its impact.
  • Focused – No matter what’s going on in their life, they’re able to leave it at the door when they come to work and focus on the job at hand.
  • Accountable – They don’t make excuses or blame others when mistakes happen. They own up to the problem and learn from the experience.  
  • Confident  – They’re not scared of failure or embarrassment. They don’t let fear prevent them from testing new ideas and asking questions.
  • Ego free – Confidence is good but over-confidence rubs others the wrong way. It’s a fine line but emotionally intelligent people know how to walk it.

An emotionally intelligent person is more than a good worker. They’re an overall good person.  They put out fires instead of fanning the flames. And they lift the spirits of the people around them by staying level-headed during difficult situations. What company wouldn’t want to employ a person like that?

Learn as you go

Identifying emotional intelligence in others is a skill that many people have to learn. As you gain experience hiring and leading teams, you’ll get better at noticing all the little traits that make someone a great person to work with.

Trakstar Hire is considered the most user friendly hiring software on the market. If you’re ready to take your recruiting and hiring to the next level, request a Trakstar Hire demo today.

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