Hiring for Emotional Intelligence

Hiring for Emotional Intelligence

The questions asked when hiring professionals can make or break your organization. A great hire can help a company grow. A bad hire, well, that’s another story. The cost of a bad hire can vary widely and the U.S. Department of Labor estimates the average cost of a bad hire can equal 30% of the employee’s first-year potential earnings. Emotional intelligence plays a key role in hiring employees who are competent and achieve success in their roles.

An emotionally intelligent individual has a high regard for social and emotional skills, works well with others, is effective in business or social settings, and tends to accomplish organizational goals. Why not make a couple of simple changes to the interview to increase your chances of making a great hire?

There are multiple aspects to emotional intelligence but honing in on these five traits in the interview process will go a long way in identifying candidates with high emotional intelligence.

1. Self-Perception

This refers to how a person understands their own feelings, behaviors, and motivation. Self-perception or self-awareness opens the door to examining one’s own shortcomings and strengths. The person is tuned in to how others perceive them. There is a recognition of how their feelings affect their job performance and the job performance of others.

Example questions to ask:

  • Describe a time when you felt you were unfairly criticized and how you handled it.
  • Has there ever been a time where your job performance was affected by your mood? Please describe.

2. Empathy

Empathy is the person’s awareness of the feelings and emotions of others and being able to respond in an appropriate way. Empathetic people can step into another’s shoes to understand their feelings and perspectives. Why might you want empathetic people in your organization? They look for commonalities during differences and tend to be good listeners.

Example questions to ask:

  • Describe a time when you had to deliver difficult news.
  • Describe a time when understanding someone else’s perspective helped you understand them better.

3. Stress Tolerance

How one handles various levels of stress coming from various sources might indicate how composed and unflappable a person might be. To remain competitive business needs to change frequently which causes employees stress. People that do not fly off the handle, are positive, and are able to think and speak clearly in emotionally charged situations will provide calm in the storm of change.

Example questions to ask:

  • When do you feel most under pressure? Tell me the last time that happened and what you did?
  • Tell me about a time when you were proud of how you handled a stressful situation.

4. Flexibility

The ability to handle changing circumstances and expectations without disruption speaks to a person’s adaptability or flexibility. Why might you want flexible people in your organization? They tend to be open-minded to new ideas, anticipates changing needs, and adjusts to change.

Example questions to ask:

  • Tell me about a time you had to act when there was no formal policy or procedure to do so.
  • Describe a situation when you had to adjust to changes over which you had no control.

5. Self-Control

This is the ability to manage impulses and not say or do anything inappropriate when the urge is present. These people demonstrate the ability to think before acting, deals with ambiguity, and manages feelings constructively.

Example questions to ask:

  • Tell me about a time you had to ‘bite your tongue’ even though you really didn’t want to.
  • Describe a situation when you had to exercise a significant amount of self-control.


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ISC offers consultants experienced in training and consulting in Emotional Intelligence. Contact Karen Wales, kwales@nullisc-usa.com or 949.458.2157 for more information.

To increase the chances of making good hiring decisions take the time to revamp your interview questions. The examples in this article may or may not be the traits important to your organization. Select the emotional intelligence traits valued by your organization. For quick help with possible questions simply Google emotional intelligence interview questions.  Science-based information can be obtained from the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations (www.eiconsortium.org).

5 Traits that are Enhanced Through Emotional Intelligence Training

5 Traits that are Enhanced Through Emotional Intelligence Training

Historically, business culture has always placed value on a cognitive intelligence. However, a person’s cognitive intelligence largely can’t be improved. If a person took an IQ test every five years, the results would remain remarkably consistent. Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, can be improved through dedicated training.

Emotional intelligence is a person’s ability to recognize and control their own emotional states and responses. The more mindful a person is of their emotional state and responses, the higher their emotional intelligence.

In a corporate setting, having high emotional intelligence is a hugely resourceful tool. Here are 5 traits that can be enhanced through emotional intelligence training.

1. Empathy

Empathy is a person’s ability to understand and share the feelings of another person. In a team environment, where everyone in the company is working towards the same business goals, having empathy is not only valuable but essential. Empathic people can step into the shoes of their coworkers and understand their feelings and perspectives. The better you know the emotions of your co-workers and employees, the better you will be at collaborating with them and helping them achieve success.

2. Self-Awareness

A considerable component of emotional intelligence is having general awareness, including awareness of your feelings, behaviors, and motivations. Having self-awareness allows you to examine your weaknesses and strengths, which enables you to identify how you can improve. People with strong self-awareness can take note of how their feelings and behaviors affect the people they work with. Self-awareness is a particularly valuable trait for individuals who lead a team.

3. Self-Control

Possessing self-control provides a person with the ability to manage impulses and urges. In a work environment, self-control prevents one from saying or doing something inappropriate, even if the urge is present. Everyone gets frustrated at some point during his or her job but having the self-control to keep certain frustrations or opinions to yourself shows a high level of emotional intelligence.

4. Stress Management

It’s normal for a person to experience stress from time to time at work. The better a person is at managing various levels of stress, regardless of the source, the more emotional intelligence they possess. In a competitive work environment, it’s essential to maintain your calm when experiencing stress. Through emotional intelligence training, a professional can learn to manage their stress and remain calm during the frequently changing business needs. People who don’t fly off the handle, are positive, and can think and speak clearly in emotionally charged situations will remain calm in the storm of change.

5. Flexibility

In a work environment, you need to be able to adapt on-the-fly. The better one’s ability to handle changing circumstances and expectations without disruption, the more flexible they are. Possessing a high level of flexibility is a sign of having high emotional intelligence. By improving this trait, an individual will be better equipped to deal with any number of curveballs they experience at work. A shifting project deadline, last-minute changes to instructions—with high flexibility a person can handle these changes and get their work done.

To learn more about improving these five traits through emotional intelligence training, contact ISC today.