There are a number of key factors that go into hiring new employees. One that may not have made its way onto your list of important attributes, however, is emotional intelligence. Hiring for emotional intelligence offers a number of key benefits for your workplace, including a better work culture for everyone in your building.
If you've been ignoring emotional intelligence when it comes to your employees, take the time to consider how these important attributes can help you find better employees and shape a better work culture.
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize and regulate emotional response. In the workplace, this translates to an employee who is able to define their emotions as they experience them, control their reactions, and clearly define their strengths and weaknesses.
Emotionally intelligent employees often have better interactions with other members of the team and are able to address problems clearly and effectively before they blow up into a more serious issue. Emotional intelligence can also lead to better self-motivation, which means that employees are able to move themselves forward without needing as much input from team leads.
What Are the Main Benefits of Emotional Intelligence?
Hiring for emotional intelligence has a number of key benefits in your workplace. Consider how these benefits can impact your business:
Benefit #1: Emotionally intelligent employees are more productive. Technical employees who have high emotional intelligence levels rank in the top 10% for productivity. In some cases, high emotional intelligence can increase productivity in the workplace by as much as twenty times. This is particularly important in creative environments or those that are driven by innovation.
Benefit #2: 90% of top performers in the workplace have high levels of emotional intelligence. Regardless of their job, emotionally intelligent individuals are simply able to accomplish more. While it's possible for individuals to be very capable in their positions without being emotionally intelligent, it's much less likely for individuals with low emotional intelligence to show the same level of competence.
Benefit #3: Emotionally intelligent workers have lower levels of turnover. Individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence are often better able to moderate workplace stress. This makes it less likely that they will leave a position during times of high stress or due to steady stress over time. Emotionally intelligent workers are also better equipped to handle conflict with coworkers or difficult customers.
Benefit #4: Leaders with high emotional intelligence are better able to motivate the employees they work with every day. Your management team and other leaders in your workplace are often responsible for setting the emotional environment in which they work. When you have emotionally intelligent leaders, they are able to more easily evaluate others' emotional states, determine what will motivate them, and provide them with the tools they need in order to experience workplace success.
Emotionally intelligent leaders are also more likely to follow the first rule of effective management: working alongside their employees to set the tone they want for the workplace. They may also:
- Provide better, more effective feedback for other employees
- Offer praise freely
- Show empathy for the employees who work with them, which can help smooth out difficult situations
Benefit #5: High emotional intelligence can lead to better relationships in the workplace. Depending on your workplace environment, you may need to work very closely with a number of employees every day. In that type of environment, it doesn't take long for tempers to start to flare, especially during times of high stress.
Under these circumstances, emotionally intelligent individuals are better able to regulate their emotional responses, putting them in a better position to deal with any conflicts that may arise. This may mean avoiding conflict and more.
Benefit #6: Employees with high levels of emotional intelligence take criticism better. Instead of reacting poorly or taking it personally when they receive criticism or advice in the workplace, employees with high levels of emotional intelligence take that criticism under advisement and use it to help themselves improve. They'll take advice for what it's worth, rather than becoming sullen or difficult to work with.
Benefit #7: Emotional intelligence leads to higher levels of commitment. When an emotionally intelligent employee tells you that they're going to do something, you know that it's going to get done--and chances are, it's going to get done right. They often have a better idea of what they're able to accomplish, including the amount of stress that they're able to handle without becoming overloaded.
As a result, they're less likely to take on challenges that they don't feel equal to--and they'll be more likely to follow through with the challenges they do take on.
Benefit #8: The more emotionally intelligent employees you have, the better your workplace. A handful of emotionally intelligent employees can help your entire workplace move more smoothly. When a large number of your employees show high levels of emotional intelligence, however, you'll find that your entire workplace simply functions better. There will be less conflict, less struggle to get simple tasks completed, and a higher likelihood that your employees will be able to take on difficult or challenging projects.
Benefit #9: Individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence adapt fast. This is particularly important when you're filling a large number of roles in your company in a hurry or otherwise need to compensate for swift turnover. High levels of adaptability make it easier for employees to step into their new roles--and also give them the tools they need to take on new challenges and roles as their job responsibilities change throughout their time with your company.
How to Discern Emotional Intelligence During an Interview
If you intend to focus on emotional intelligence when hiring new employees, you need to know what to look for! Make sure you're looking for these key characteristics during your interviews to ensure that the employees you choose have high levels of emotional intelligence.
Listen for the pause. An individual with a high level of emotional intelligence will take a moment to pause: to stop and think before they issue a response. They don't feel the need to fill the silence immediately; instead, they'll think through their answer, especially to a difficult or emotionally-based question.
While this pause won't be present after every question you ask--after all, your potential employee has had the opportunity to rehearse many of their interview answers--waiting for the pause when you ask difficult or unusual questions will let you know that an employee has a higher level of emotional intelligence than one that will dive in, looking for the answer as they speak.
Ask the right questions. There are several key questions that can help determine whether or not job candidates are emotionally intelligent. Try some of these key questions:
- "Tell about a time you've failed at work and how you handled it." It's incredibly rare for an employee to have absolutely no history of failure. If you want to get to know more about your job candidates, ask them about a time when they failed. You'll get a look at how they respond under pressure and what they learn from failures. An employee who insists that they don't fail at work or who tries to brush it off with something simple is demonstrating low levels of emotional intelligence, which might not be the best fit for your company.
- "Give an example of a time when you needed to ask for help on a project." When you work with a new employee, chances are, there will be times when they don't know exactly what to do. Fortunately, there are plenty of individuals in your workplace who can help--if a new employee is willing to ask for it. How will they respond when they get in over their head? This simple question can give you a better idea of how they'll react.
- "What colleague have you gotten along with the best in the past?" Get your new employee talking about past colleagues. What helped form the basis of that relationship? Conversely, you can also ask about the colleagues that they didn't get along with in the past.
Introduce employees to the individuals they'll be working with. Consider holding an interview with the members of the team that they'll be working with the most often. Give them the chance to interact with everyone. An employee who is a good fit for your team will interact well with them from the start. Observing them in a group environment will also help shake off some of the interview nerves and give you a better idea of how they respond to more natural questions.
See how they treat the receptionist. Your front desk staff can be one of the most effective tools you have when it comes time for an interview. How does your interviewee treat the receptionist? Do they carry on a conversation, act politely, and engage? When they're waiting for the interview, are they on their phone, fixing their makeup, or doing other things that suggest their impatience? An emotionally intelligent individual will be the same person with the front desk staff that they are with others.
Hiring emotionally intelligent individuals can be a big shift in your workplace hiring habits. That shift often doesn't happen overnight! With time, however, you'll discover all the advantages that this simple change can create in your workplace.