The secret weapon that can make your hires more successful

The secret weapon that can make your hires more successful

The concept of emotional intelligence (EQ) gained prominence around two decades ago. Defined as the capability to recognise your own emotions, and those of others, EQ allows you to use emotional information to guide your thinking and behaviours – and to adjust emotions according to your end goal. We are all driven by our emotions, but a person with high EQ can recognise and manage them effectively.

Why is EQ important?

A study by US company Leadership IQ found that nearly half of new hires are either fired or disciplined within their first 18 months. And in a huge 89% of those cases, the reason for this is attitude – poor motivation, bad temperament, or emotional issues – in other words, low EQ. 

That represents a huge cost to the employer. It makes sense that if EQ can be measured at the interview process, that statistic could be driven down.

Do companies understand the benefits of EQ?

According to research conducted by Robert Half UK, only a quarter of 400 UK business leaders surveyed think EQ is undervalued in the hiring process. So that leaves three quarters who don’t believe that – which contradicts the Leadership IQ research.

However, 60% of the senior managers quizzed in the research said that EQ was an attribute they looked for in an employee.

The benefits identified from employees having a high EQ include increased motivation and morale, improved leadership and better collaboration between teams.

So, is it a case that employers recognise the benefits of EQ but struggle with a process for identifying it early in the recruitment process?

Targeting EQ

Dr Hendrie Weisinger, psychologist and expert in EQ, believes this to be the case, where employers are often put off targeting EQ because they don’t know how. 

He finds that whilst recruiters understand the concepts of EQ, such as managing emotions, they fall down on being and being able to identify if, for example, a candidate has high self-awareness. His suggestion is that ‘hiring EQ’ should be part of a company’s training programme for their recruiters. 

Weisinger is at pains to stress that one size does not fit all. Specific qualities recruiters should be looking out for will differ from company to company. So, the starting point is to understand which emotional skills are important for the job you are recruiting for.

The tools you can use

Specific EQ psychometric tests exist. They focus on characteristics such as attitudes, feelings and behaviour that are performance-related and measure how the candidate harnesses their temperament and emotional resources to be personally and interpersonally effective.

However, you can learn a lot by simply asking the right kind of questions that seek to delve a little into the emotional makeup of the candidate. Here are some examples, but you can develop relevant ones to identify the qualities that are important to your vacancy.

If you want to know  Ask
How resilient they are When were you last embarrassed?
The qualities they value Who do you look up to?
What they consider negative qualitiesWhat makes you angry?
If they are self-awareWhat is your greatest strength?
Can they create solutions?How do you resolve conflict at work?
If they can build lasting relationships Will you keep in touch with your team from your previous job?

Of course, someone may have rehearsed answers to the type of questions above, but if you get a feeling that they are critical of their current employer, or they only talk about themselves, not their team, you should delve deeper. Ultimately, it’s about knowing what clues are and trust your ability to pick up on cues. 

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