4 Steps to Start Recognizing Someone’s Emotional Intelligence

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May 31, 2016
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

Ever wonder why the smartest person on your team is not necessarily the best team player? Have you been trying to put your finger on what makes your manager such a good leader? The answers could be related to your colleagues’ levels of emotional intelligence. More than just a buzzword or management fad, emotional intelligence is a critical human characteristic that works in tandem with IQ and personality to help make us who we are at work and in life.

The Buzz about Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or EI, involves the ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others, and to manage those emotions for healthy relationships. It is actually a set of skills, and unlike IQ and personality, you can intentionally change these skills over time. The big buzz about EI in business management started in the mid-1990s with a book by psychologist Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Since then, there’s been a growing field of EI research and work, as well as development of measures for EI which have been termed the emotional quotient, or EQ.

According to TalentSmart, 90 percent of top performers are high in emotional intelligence. According to a CareerBuilder report, 71 percent of hiring managers and HR professionals surveyed said they value emotional intelligence in an employee more than IQ. Fifty-nine percent would not hire someone who has a high IQ but low EI.

Why People with High EQs Make Good Managers

Those of us with high EQs are adept at reading emotions in the people around us and picking up on the non-verbal cues. In the workplace, this can translate into some critical advantages for people who manager others, such as:

  • Seeing clearly where the points of friction and the points of collaborative strength reside on a business team;
  • Recognizing “fit” in job candidates in order to make better hires;
  • Understanding when an employee is less than satisfied with his work before he states it, and being able to bring that person back into the fold;
  • Realizing which intangible benefits of a job likely mean the most to a current employee
  • Accurately reading a new hire’s greatest concerns about her new role

Boost Your Recognition of EQ in Job Candidates

Many of the standard job interview questions aren’t designed to uncover emotional intelligence all that well. However, there are at least four steps you can take during your hiring process to help improve your recognition of EQ in a managerial job candidate:

  • Notice what your candidate says and does even before you’ve asked an official interview question. Look for direct eye contact and a real smile during introductions. What is the tone of his response if you ask how his day is going? If the interview is on premise, did he treat your support staff with genuine courtesy and respect? Notice whether you are feeling engaged by your candidate — people with a high EQ typically have strong interpersonal skills.
  • Listen for ways your candidate talks about other people. If you ask him to describe a team project at work that didn’t go well, why it took a bad turn, and how he handled it, does he criticize teammates and lay blame? Does he focus on the issue objectively? Does he speak about others with respect?
  • Make time to ask questions that get to EQ by focusing more on emotions. Some ideas include questions about interests and why he likes those activities; questions about what or who inspires this candidate, and how he handles frustration or stress.
  • If you have a colleague who you feel has a high EQ, ask that person to participate in the interview, or at least pop in for a few minutes. It can be helpful to get a second opinion with respect to a candidate’s EQ.
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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