How to Hire for Emotional Intelligence (EI – Part II)

Last week in part one, we covered the why emotional intelligence (EI) is a valued commodity in candidates. Today we will share key tips for building a team of individuals with EI – the do’s and the don’ts – the right questions to ask – the clues to watch.

First, here’s a look at what doesn’t work in assessing EI.

Personality tests
This approach fails to give adequate answers for two reasons. 1) Personality and emotional intelligence are not one in the same and 2) The specific competencies of IE – namely positive outlook, achievement orientation, empathy, or inspirational leadership – are not addressed in a personality test.

Self-report tests
Again, this tactic is flawed for a number of reasons. A person who does not possess self-awareness will not be able to judge his/her level of self-awareness. Plain and simple. On the other hand, a person who is adept in the area of self-awareness will have the ability to cover up weak areas and possibly even fudge the truth to try to land the job.

So, what does work in uncovering emotional intelligence in the interview?

Create a warm, conversational interview atmosphere.

When you make an applicant feel comfortable by creating a more casual, informal setting, you encourage the applicant to open up to you. To break the ice, begin with the expected, “normal” questions about the person’s education, background and work experience. The more the applicant “settles in,” the more forthcoming he/she will be, thereby revealing more of his/her inner qualities.

Then ask questions that demand a thoughtful answer.

If you ask only questions that allow for vague, generic answers, don’t expect to get much useful information. The same goes for questions that are answered easily with a memorized response. Instead ask specific questions that demand detailed answers, preferably ones that must use real-life scenarios and hands-on experience as examples.

You want to present pondering type inquiries that will make the applicant think, such as these shared by Carolyn Sun:

• If you were starting a company tomorrow, what would be its top three values?
• Did you build lasting friendships while working at another job?
• What skill or expertise do you feel like you’re still missing?

Watch for signs of these traits or characteristics that point to a healthy emotional intelligence.

• Body language that matches verbal interaction
• A difficult-to-contain passion about one’s work
• The ability to focus on the interviewer(s)
• A demonstrated ability to interact well with others
• A “cup half full” attitude
• An eagerness to learn and explore new things
• The ability to listen attentively and not dominate the conversation
• A nature that is not averse to change
• Values that give top priority to honesty and integrity
• A demonstrated respect for others
• A realistic view of his/her own qualifications and skills

After the interview – talk to references

Insist on a personal conversation with the candidate’s references rather than a letter or, even worse, a generic form. An actual conversation allows for specific and pointed questions and the exchange of multiple examples and details. What the person tries not to convey may be as telling as what he/she does share.

A workforce, which is adept at dealing with change. An office of individuals who understand and can motivate others. Staff, who can manage both their own and others’ positive and negative emotions. Those are the type of people you want to fill your employee rosters.

And that’s where Springborn Staffing can assist you. As Maine’s leading staffing company, our experts can direct you to the best candidates – those who have not only the skills and experience but also have a high level of emotional intelligence – to meet your specific staffing needs. Contact our team today.

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