A key talent for those in the field of executive recruitment is the ability to accurately assess the emotional intelligence of a candidate. How are you doing in that regard?

Understanding the Importance of Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, as defined by The Undercover Recruiter, “refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions.” According to the Harvard Business Review, an emotionally intelligent person exhibits:

  • Self-awareness and self-regulation.
  • The ability to read the emotions of others correctly and recognize the impact of personal behavior.
  • The ability to learn from mistakes.

These traits are indeed of great value to employers. One CareerBuilder survey reveals that 71 percent of hiring managers rank emotional intelligence as more important than IQ in a candidate. Since that is the case, what can executive recruiters do to accurately measure the emotional intelligence of candidates? Here are some tips to help:

1) Understand the company culture of the position for which you are recruiting.

Before you even think about setting up the first interview with a prospective candidate, it is essential that you know exactly what technical and emotional skillsets will be needed for the job. It is easy to get bogged down in the technical prerequisites for a position and forget about the emotional prerequisites.

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As easy as it is, however, that is a disastrous recruiting recipe. A clear understanding of the emotional requirements of the position will help you figure out how to narrow your list of potential candidates down to a manageable size and offer a better chance of success.

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2) Change the venue of the interview.

Candidates for executive level positions have mastered the art of the standard interview over many years. Thus, they often go onto autopilot in an interview situation. If your candidate is on emotional autopilot, you will be hard-pressed to measure emotional intelligence. Something as simple as changing the place of the interview can often jolt a candidate out of autopilot and back into the real world. Choose a quiet place where you will not be interrupted, but take the interview out of an office setting if you are looking for more authentic results.

3) Ask the candidate to teach you something.

It does not really matter what the candidate chooses to teach you, though his or her choice may tell you something you did not know. Rather, the point of this exercise is to explore how a candidate handles communication and how he or she responds to emotional cues from you.

FastCompany explains it this way: “A highly emotionally intelligent candidate naturally assumes responsibility for getting their ideas across. The opportunity to share their knowledge and teach others is exciting, not stress inducing, and takes communication skills that this type of person loves to hone.”

4) Ask open-ended questions with skill.

There are many questions you can ask to help you gauge a candidate’s emotional intelligence. Generally, open-ended questions are best for this purpose, as they allow a candidate to fully express his or her feelings in an answer. Some open-ended questions are:

  • What is the most important lesson you have ever learned at work, and why?
  • Who do you most admire, and what is it that draws you to that person?
  • Can you remember a time when your mood affected your performance either negatively or positively? Tell me about it.
  • Have you ever been in a business situation where you realized that you needed to adjust your behavior in some way? How did you know? And what did you do about it?

Asking questions like these will help you glimpse the real person you are considering, rather than the cookie cutter facade of the typical candidate. It is only then that you can accurately gauge the emotional intelligence of your candidate.

Thrive TRM is a talent management solution used by executive recruiters, hiring managers, and others involved in the hiring process to effectively manage candidate interactions at all touch points. With real-time updates on all your candidates, everyone on your hiring team can collaborate to identify and track those candidates that show a high level of emotional intelligence. Schedule a demo of Thrive TRM today to see what this robust talent management solution can do for your organization.