A tight job market in a worldwide pandemic means companies and hiring managers must do everything in their power to attract top talent. But they still look for traditional traits like passion, fit, preparation, and experience. What they need to look for above everything is emotional intelligence.
Passion, job fit, and experience will mean little without emotional intelligence, the ability to understand one’s own emotions and the emotional landscape of the workplace. With the emphasis on collaboration in the modern workplace, the ability to understand and control emotions is a key factor in successful performance.
Coined by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer in a paper in 1990, they described the term emotional intelligence as “the ability to reason with and about emotions to achieve personal and social goals.” As one of the most in-demand skills according to a World Economic Forum survey, emotional intelligence is one of the social skills in higher demand than technical skills. Technical skills alone do not mean successful performance. Strong social and collaboration skills along with technical skills and experience are what hiring managers need to look for in candidates.
Behavioral scientist Daniel Goleman says emotional intelligence can transform organizations, and the Harvard Business Review calls it “a revolutionary, paradigm-shattering idea.” He’s conducted much research and contributed to studies of emotional intelligence and workplace effectiveness and social-emotional learning for children in schools. His books on the subject include Working with Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence.
University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education senior fellow and PennCLO Executive Doctoral Program director Annie McKee defines emotional intelligence in the workplace as understanding and managing your own emotions as well as the emotions and motivations of others to work collaboratively.
Emotional intelligence includes self-awareness, self-management, motivation, empathy, and social skills.
Self-awareness means understanding your own strengths and weaknesses, drivers and values, and how you impact others. It means you respect and support those around you and work with them, not against them or regardless of them. It means self-confidence and openness to instruction and constructive criticism.
Self-management is the ability to control your emotions, instill confidence and motivation in others, and redirect negative situations. It equals integrity, trustworthiness, and resilience.
Motivation is finding purpose in work and achievement and enjoying what you are doing. Passion, energy, and optimism are apparent in motivated individuals.
Empathy is the ability to understand others’ feelings and emotions, and to work with consideration for those around you. It includes sensitivity to cultural differences, the ability to develop and encourage others, and attention to non-verbal clues like body language.
Social skills involve relationship-building, finding common ground, and positively influencing others.
To avoid focusing on resume and job skills to exclude emotional intelligence, employers need to commit to looking for it in candidates. It has to be a priority in recruitment and screening candidates. HR analyst and author, Josh Bersin says that employers need to hire people with the hard skills for the job but who also demonstrate the emotional intelligence needed to collaborate, work successfully in teams, and communicate clearly. He says the skills employers need aren’t technical but soft skills including emotional intelligence.
The interview process must be based on discussing with candidates what they’ve done and achieved that showed emotional intelligence.
Ask about experiences, strengths and weaknesses, future goals, but also dig deeper and ask for explanations of stressful situations and successful situations and how the candidate reacted. Interviewers need to ask for in-depth discussions of specific situations about what happened, and how the candidate thought and felt about it, and what actions were taken to understand the candidate’s emotional intelligence.
Asking the following emotionally based questions lets the interviewer see how the candidate reacts in emotional or stressful situations, and following up with questions about how the candidate felt will give a good idea of a candidate’s self-awareness and ability under pressure:
Answers that describe taking personal responsibility, considering the feelings of others, and an ability and willingness to take on tough issues with maturity point to emotional intelligence. Inability to answer, or difficulty describing situations may point to a lack of emotional awareness. Hiring for emotional intelligence skills is key to developing a competitive workforce.
As the worldwide pandemic continues and hopefully abates in 2021 and into 2022, workforce building is more challenging than ever. Uncertainties in the new work environment mean new emotional intelligence skills that employers need to look for in candidates, according to CEO and founder of The EQ-I Coach Roberta Moore.
Moore says hire for five new emotional intelligence skills. Interview for self-actualization, which displays as self-motivation, positive attitude, and willingness to learn and grow. Moore says to also look for self-regard and self-assurance, optimism, assertiveness, and happiness.
Employees with these skills will be adaptable and responsive to change, have lower turnover, and be more successful in a culture and work environment that they enjoy.
Sign up to get our monthly newsletter and updates about RNN.