Deciding who to hire for an open position plays a big role in the future success of an organization. While many companies seek qualified candidates that have a particular skill set, it’s now understood that workplace success is strongly influenced by a person’s emotional intelligence (EQ).

While hiring a candidate quickly might be a key goal, placing greater emphasis on the quality of hires will ensure that performance and retention numbers continue to improve. Here is how a focus on EQ can help companies achieve their goals.

What is Emotional Intelligence (EQ)?

Emotional intelligence is a quality that affects how individuals make personal decisions, manage behavior, and navigate social complexities. EQ is a person’s skills as they relate to two areas: personal competence and social competence.

Within these areas, a person might have skills that allow them to manage relationships, identify with the emotions of others, practice self-awareness, and manage their own emotions and behavior. While EQ can be developed over time in some people, hiring candidates with EQ already in place is a better solution for any business.

The Case for Hiring for Emotional Intelligence

Most companies want the best and brightest on their teams, but too often focus on the wrong criteria when selecting candidates. Recent studies show that IQ and technical ability aren’t the driving forces behind job performance. Companies studied found that EQ accounts for two-thirds of job performance differences, while technical ability and IQ account for just one-third.
Consequently, hiring individuals with a high EQ will bring a company higher quality employees. The question, then, is how does a company screen job candidates for EQ?

How to Screen Job Candidates for Emotional Intelligence

If a company hires emotionally intelligent employees, there’s a good chance of high worker satisfaction and a more cohesive corporate culture. So, how do businesses find these high EQ candidates?

First, let’s start with how not to find them. Avoid using personality tests to screen for EQ. There’s a false misconception that EQ and personality are the same things, and this isn’t the case. Companies should also avoid using self-report tests and 360-feedback instruments to measure EQ. Self-reporting often does not work and 360-feedback can be easily manipulated or gamed for the desired outcome.

One of the best ways to screen job candidates for EQ is through behavioral questioning. This approach allows the candidate to describe real-life situations in which they demonstrated skills but also dealt with such things as failure, conflicts, and overcoming obstacles.

To interview for certain competencies, one study found that the top executives achieved the highest rankings in these six areas: Leadership, Influence, Achievement Drive, Organizational Awareness, Team Leadership, and Self-Confidence.

Interviewers can dig deeper with interview questions for emotional intelligence that ask candidates to demonstrate their level of self-awareness and maturity. For example, ask a prospective candidate, “What is your superpower?” This might sound silly on the surface, but it specifically speaks to a person’s self-awareness and can be an opening for more leading questions.

Another useful question in this area is “What types of things would we coach you on?” Again, how aware is the candidate of their own shortcomings? This can also give you a better idea of how you can manage that person for maximum effectiveness.
Hiring for emotional intelligence is one more way to can position a company for success. Asking the right questions is important and, in time, identifying top job candidates with a high degree of emotional intelligence will come quickly. These candidates represent future leaders and the top sales professionals who can bring an organization to the next level.