Being Sensitive is Smart – Emotional Intelligence as Basis for Hiring Employees

Imagine two equally talented individuals vying for the same job position in your company. Looking on their professional experiences and aptitudes, you can’t go wrong with choosing one over the other.

If put in such a situation, who would you choose?

Since they cancel each other out skill-wise, you should look for another measure in which potential employees will be gauged.

How about emotional intelligence?

Why is emotional intelligence important in hiring employees?

Ira L. Blank explains this best in his essay “Selecting Employees Based on Emotional Intelligence Competencies: Reap the Rewards and Minimize the Risk:”

[N]umerous studies show that emotional intelligence competencies are predictive of outstanding performance in most jobs. Hiring individuals with higher levels of emotional intelligence and training employees to be more emotionally intelligent adds substantial value to their respective organizations.32

Second, emotional intelligence is a matter of risk management. Employees lacking in certain emotional intelligence competencies may present a greater risk of bad behavior, such as theft and sexual harrassmemt.33 Selecting employees based on emotional intelligence competencies may enhance the likelihood that a “trouble maker” will not be hired.

Need proof that hiring emotionally competent people lead to success? Read “The Business Case for Emotional Intelligence” by Cary Cherniss.

What does it means to be emotionally intelligent?

It means the ability to:

Empathize with your co-workers

In The Office, Jim was about to treat Michael to lunch tomorrow before he leaves town, only to find out that Michael booked his flight later that afternoon. Instead of letting the sadness of the moment take over, Jim made light of the situation instead.

Make decisions based on your strengths and weaknesses

In The Pursuit of Happyness, Chris Gardner was hired by Dean Witter as an intern stockbroker working his way up his call sheet. He made changes in his work routine to cram nine hour’s worth of work in six because he had to fetch his son from school, but they’re still not enough . To save more time, he did what most interns wouldn’t do.

Influence and draw desired reactions from others

In Boiler Room, Jim Young is a millionaire who works at J.T. Marlin, a brokerage firm. In this scene, he delivers an impassioned speech filled with swear words and machismo that one cannot help but listen.

Control your impulses

In Morning Glory, Becky Fuller works her first day as Executive Producer for DayBreak, a national morning show in turmoil. To welcome her arrival, the staff threw her suggestions, comments, and ideas for the show, all at the same time. In a situation where most people would scream or lash out, Beck handles the situation masterfully.

Remain motivated and committed in reaching your goals

In Any Given Sunday, Tony D’Amato, Head Coach of the Miami Sharks, lays out his uplifting speech to unite and lead his dysfunctional team to battle.

How to gauge emotional intelligence?

It begins with the interview you will run to screen applicants. Conventional wisdom would have us think that the more questions you ask applicants, the more your learn about them and their qualifications for the job. But it’s not about the volume of questions – rather, it’s the quality, says Adele B. Lynn in her book “The EQ Interview: Finding Employees with High Emotional Intelligence” (Amacom, 2008).

Focus your interview questions to situations where the performance of the applicants has been affected by their attitudes and moods. Ask for experiences when they have a misunderstanding with a manager or co-worker and how they resolved the issue. For people applying for a managerial position in your company, learn how they maintain a positive attitude at their previous work. Know if they have been done something wrong to their co-workers and customers before and what they did about it.

In relation to your business, present hypothetical situations that potential employees may find themselves in while working for you. Ask how they intend to solve the problem and what they should do to avoid them in the future.

The responses of applicants should display their composure and ability to turn mistakes into opportunities. The fact that they are able to keep things professional and objective despite the pressure shows a lot about their character as employees.

Most importantly, you’ll forego hiring guys who’ll throw a wrench in your business operations, just like this guy.

To recap:

  • Hire people based on their emotional intelligence, not purely on their professional skills.
  • Applicants with high emotional quotients are more equipped to deal with the pressures and stress at work.
  • When screening applicants, ask them situations at the office where their emotions are put to the test. This will allow you to see how they react to and recover from unfavorable experiences.

Do you feel that EQ bears more importance than actual skills in hiring employees? Let us know what you think by commenting below!


1 Comment on "Being Sensitive is Smart – Emotional Intelligence as Basis for Hiring Employees"

  1. I always advise my clients to hire employees based on their attitude, not skills. You can always teach someone new skills if they have the right attitude. The reverse is not true. Here is an article I wrote on a similar subject that you might find interesting –

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