7 Ways to Look for Emotional Intelligence When Hiring

posted on Mar 9 2016

Emotional intelligence involves self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. When someone has these qualities, they have the ability to work well with others and are effective in leading change. As organizations become more aware of the importance of emotional intelligence, they begin to look for people who have these skills. While ability and technical skills still matter, the importance of emotional intelligence is being recognized. The question is, how do we determine if someone has these skills? In a traditional interview, many smart people have figured out how to answer to make it appear as if they have the necessary tools, whether they actually do or not. First, move the interview out of the traditional office setting. Go to a quiet coffee shop, park or some other place where you won’t be interrupted. Instead of the typical question and answer method, try and turn the interview into a conversation. The more the interviewee is off guard and into a real conversation, the more open and honest they will be.

What Bothers You the Most About People?
Instead of asking directly, tell a story about dealing with a family member or colleague that annoys you. Then ask if there is anyone at their last job, or in their personal life, that bothers them. This will give you valuable insight how they perceive people, try to understand them and get along with them.

Tell Me About a Day When Everything Went Wrong
You can start out by giving them an example from one of your days from hell. When it is their turn to share their story, look for how they dealt with the situation. Did they dwell upon the problem, blame or look for solutions?  Look for coping mechanisms and flexibility in dealing with change and unpredictability. Do they take responsibility or look to blame others?

Tell Me About Someone at Work You Really Got Along With, or a Friend That You Have. What Compels the Two of You to Get Along?
The relationships people build with others tells us a lot about how they see themselves and what they value in others. This also provides us with feedback on how self-aware they are and how aware they are on how they impact others. Humour, unless it is sarcastic and demeaning, is always a good sign.

What is Something That You Can Teach Me?
When they try to teach you something, ask questions that indicate a lack of understanding. Do they seem to get frustrated, impatient or ask questions to gather more information on what it is you don’t get? Are they able to explain the idea simply and are they flexible in how they describe it if at first you don’t understand? Do they take responsibility for not describing it well enough, or do they seem to blame you for not getting it? Look for signs of frustration and impatience in their facial expression, body language and tone of voice.

Who is the Person or Persons You Admire the Most and What is it About Them That You Admire?
People tend to model themselves after those they admire. Is the object of their admiration a people person, someone who inspires and uplifts others or someone who appears to only be concerned about themselves? You can dig further by asking if there is anything they do that they have picked up from those they admire. You can even go further and ask if there is anything about that person that they don’t like, or would not like to emulate.


What is the One Thing You are Most Proud of and What Makes it So Special?
You can give an example of something you have achieved that you are proud of to encourage them to think and get started. When they talk of their achievements, do they include and credit others or are they a one person show? Do they talk about how it made others feel, how proud family, friends or co-workers were? Is the achievement based on the work of a team or do you get the feeling that they think they are solely responsible for their own success?

Think of Having Your Own Company. What Kind of People Would You Hire and Why?
This will give you valuable insight as to how they view people, how well they see themselves working together and how they value people. Do they focus on people or on outcomes? What is their style of relating to others and what kind of people are they most comfortable/least comfortable working with? Do they like to work closely with others or do they prefer to work independently?

Let’s Wrap It All Up
The more you can back away from the traditional interview model and support the candidate to be relaxed and forget this is an interview, the more valuable information you will obtain. This means being creative and sharing your own stories and experiences to encourage the applicant to open up and share more of themselves and their story.

About Harvey

Harvey Deutschendorf is an Emotional Intelligence expert, internationally published author and speaker. Emotional Intelligence transformed Harvey's life and he invites you to revitalize your business, team leaders and employees. Consider renewing your organization!

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— Jim Rohn