Mon Aug 28 2023
Founders & Tech Leaders

How to Evaluate Soft Skills and Emotional Intelligence in Recruitment

Maryam Khurram
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Did you know that nearly 90% of high performers possess a quality that sets them apart from their peers with similar technical skills and knowledge? That quality is emotional intelligence.

Around twenty years ago, Goleman drew attention to the significance of emotional intelligence in leadership, stating that influential leaders shared one critical trait: a high degree of emotional intelligence.

Since then, emotional intelligence has become a crucial aspect of successful leadership and an essential skill for employees at all levels.

A study by TalentSmart, an EQ provider, examined emotional intelligence alongside other workplace skills and discovered that emotional intelligence accounts for 58% of success in all job types and is the most significant predictor of performance.

Additionally, they are better equipped to handle stress, adapt to change, and make sound decisions.

As a result, emotional intelligence has become a key consideration in the recruitment process. Employers increasingly incorporate soft skills assessments to identify candidates with the soft skills necessary to excel in their roles.

Interested in learning more? Keep reading.

Why EQ Skills are Important in The Workplace

What makes a potential employee stand out? According to Bill Benjamin, a partner at the Institute for Health and Human Potential, EQ counts for twice as much as IQ and technical skills combined in determining who will be a star performer.

While IQ and technical skills are undoubtedly essential, they are threshold competencies that merely get you the job. Once you're over the threshold, getting more IQ and technical skills doesn't significantly improve performance.

Emotional intelligence, on the other hand, helps individuals navigate complex social situations and build relationships. As Benjamin points out, "IQ and technical skills get you the job, and EQ gets you the promotion." In other words, EQ may outrank IQ in the long run.

1. In-Demand Skill

The World Economic Forum's (WEF) 2020 Future of Jobs report listed emotional intelligence as one of the ten most in-demand skills.

It is projected to remain there through at least 2025. Social skills such as persuasion, emotional intelligence, and teaching others will be in higher demand across industries than narrow technical skills such as programming or equipment operation and control.

Technical skills will need to be supplemented with strong social and collaboration skills.

2. Jobs are Evolving

As more "dull and dangerous" jobs fall by the wayside in favor of artificial intelligence and machine learning, emotional intelligence will be even more critical.

The remaining jobs will involve things that machines can't do, such as jobs requiring complex thinking and envisioning the future.

These jobs require understanding your values, emotions and thought processes. They will also necessitate understanding how to work with people vastly different from ourselves and learning how to read people so we can guide them individually and collectively toward a common goal.

3. Leaders Have More Impact than Ever

While emotional intelligence is essential for all employees, it may be even more critical for those in charge.

Managers and other leaders set the tone for the entire workplace, and good managers must understand how their emotions can impact those around them.

If they can't understand their impact on people, it becomes contagious, and others will start having a bad day.

Before you know it, everyone is having a bad day, and no one thinks as clearly as they need to. Therefore, leaders must work on their EQ to create a positive and productive work environment.

Learn more: Why Traditional Hiring Methods are Failing in Engineering Recruitment

Identifying Emotionally Intelligent Candidates

How to evaluate skills while hiring

- Commit to Focusing on EQ

According to emotional intelligence expert Karla McKee, the first step in recruiting emotionally intelligent employees is for employers to commit to this quality.

It's not enough to merely state that emotional intelligence is a desirable trait - it must be openly acknowledged as a top criterion for hiring.

This commitment must also be demonstrated by actively seeking out candidates with high emotional intelligence during recruitment.

- Bring Emotional Intelligence Into the Interview

During the interview process, it's crucial to focus on emotional intelligence to identify candidates with this quality.

Conducting an advanced behavioral interview is one technique that hiring managers can use to assess a candidate's interpersonal style and comfort in stressful situations.

McKee suggests that employers should ask candidates to describe their experiences in previous roles, their strengths and weaknesses, and where they see themselves in the future.

In recruitment, employers should investigate a candidate's past to find instances of their emotional intelligence. This can help with identifying their suitability for the position.

Hiring managers can ask candidates to discuss their experiences working on a team and how they led it through a challenging situation. It's important to ask follow-up questions that require candidates to describe their thoughts, feelings, and actions in detail.

- Ask Relevant Questions

During the interview process, it's equally important to ask relevant questions that help identify a candidate's level of emotional intelligence.

Besides common interview questions, employers should ask questions that put candidates in stressful situations, which can draw out emotional responses. For instance, Benjamin suggests asking behavioral interview questions such as:

  • Can you describe a time when you were given critical feedback?
  • Can you describe a time when you had to have a difficult conversation?
  • Can you describe a time when a team had tension or conflict?
  • Can you describe a time when a change was instituted that you disagreed with?
  • Can you describe a time when you had to devise a creative solution under pressure?
  • Can you describe a time when you made a mistake?

For each question, employers should ask follow-up questions about the candidate's thoughts, feelings and actions. This helps gauge the candidate's emotional awareness and ability to navigate difficult situations.

- Consider Self-Awareness

If a candidate can't answer a question or has trouble describing specific situations, it may be a sign that they lack emotional awareness.

Employers should use the candidate's answers to gauge how much self-awareness they have of their thoughts and emotions.

Those who describe specific situations should be considered for their ability to take ownership, show personal accountability, and step into pressure situations.

How to Evaluate Emotional Intelligence in Recruitment

- Emphasize Emotional Intelligence Skills

While technical skills and experience are important, working well with others and navigating social situations are becoming increasingly important in the workplace.

Employers should prioritize emotional intelligence skills when hiring and developing employees.

As Benjamin said, "If you aren’t hiring and developing people for emotional intelligence skills, you are not going to be competitive in the future."

- Look for Empathy

Empathy is a crucial aspect of emotional intelligence, essential for building strong relationships with customers, colleagues, and stakeholders.

To identify candidates with strong empathy skills, ask questions that reveal their ability to understand and connect with others on an emotional level.

For example, you could ask about a time when they had to deal with a demanding customer or coworker and how they managed to turn the situation around.

- Use Behavioral Assessments Techniques

Aside from conducting interviews and reference checks, it would be beneficial to incorporate behavioral interview questions assessments in assessing emotional intelligence in the recruitment of potential candidates.

These assessments can provide insights into their personality traits, communication styles, and decision-making processes. By analyzing the results, you can determine whether a candidate has the emotional intelligence to thrive in your organization.

However, using these assessments in conjunction with other hiring methods is important to get a comprehensive view of each candidate.

- Psychometric Tests

Psychometrics is the field of study that focuses on educational and psychological measurements.

Psychological tests that are used in educational and occupational environments and are standardized and reliable measures of factors like personality, ability, aptitude, and interest are referred to as "psychometric tests."

Psychometric tests and assessments are designed to assess one's aptitude, interests, and personality traits.

-> Interest assessments determine differences in motivation, values, and opinions in relation to interests.

-> Personality assessments measure variations in the way individuals interact with their environment and people.

-> Aptitude assessments measure differences in task performance abilities.

Learn more: Remote Work and Employee Retention: A Study of the Factors Contributing to Remote Employee Loyalty and Engagement

Methods to Measure Emotional Intelligence in Recruitment

Methods to Measure Emotional Intelligence in Recruitment

As time has passed, researchers and experts have created tools that can give a reasonably precise evaluation of an individual's soft skills assessments throughout a period. These include:

1. Self-Assessment Tools

Also known as self-reporting tools that indicate soft skills such as communication, empathy, teamwork, and problem-solving. They are most commonly disseminated in the form of surveys and questionnaires.

2. 360-Degree Feedback

Feedback tools gather input from individuals who regularly interact with the subject, providing valuable insight and effectively measuring soft skills assessment.

3. Employee Engagement Survey

These surveys measure how committed employees are to their manager which, in turn, reflects on the manager’s ability to foster healthy workplace dynamics.

4. Creating Definitive Rubrics

As soft skills are difficult to test, creating exhaustive rubrics that define exceptional, acceptable, and unacceptable degrees of soft skills helps employers evaluate candidates’ responses to a soft skill assessment.

Hiring Managers Place Greater Emphasis on Emotional Intelligence in Recruitment Post-Recession

eq vs iq

Are employers reevaluating their recruitment criteria amidst smaller staff sizes, higher stress levels, and economic uncertainties?

According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, 34% of hiring managers are now placing greater emphasis on emotional intelligence when making hiring and promotion decisions in a post-recession world.

71% of managers value emotional intelligence more than IQ in prospective employees.

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to an individual's ability to regulate emotions, perceive and understand others' feelings, and manage relationships.

The survey, which included over 2600 hiring managers and HR professionals, revealed that EI is crucial in securing employment and advancing one's career.

Employers would rather not hire an individual with a high IQ but low EI, with 59% of employers sharing this sentiment.

In the case of promotions, a high EI candidate has a better chance than a high IQ candidate, as 75% of employers are likelier to promote an employee with a high EI.

Rosemary Haefner, VP of HR at CareerBuilder, states that in a competitive job market, employers prioritize intangible qualities such as communication skills and teamwork abilities, which can lead to long-term benefits.

While technical skills and intelligence remain essential, interpersonal skills differentiate candidates and set them apart in a recovering economy.

The reasons why emotional intelligence in recruitment is more valuable than high IQ, according to employers, are as follows:

  • Employees with high EI are better equipped to stay calm under pressure
  • More effective at resolving conflicts
  • Demonstrate empathy towards colleagues
  • Lead by example
  • Make thoughtful business decisions

Observing various behaviors and qualities, HR and hiring managers assess their candidates' and employees' EI.

Based on the survey, the main signs of a good communicator are being open about mistakes and willing to learn from them, managing emotions effectively, participating in constructive conversations, receiving criticism gracefully, and keeping calm during challenging situations.

Learn more: Recruiting Diverse Talent in Tech: Strategies for Building a More Inclusive Workplace

Bottom Line

Leaders can foster a workplace culture that promotes collaboration and innovation by prioritizing emotional intelligence in recruitment. Such individuals tend to be more adaptable and resilient, leading to a more productive workforce.

To improve the well-being of their workers and drive positive business outcomes, companies can invest in psychometric tests for developing emotional intelligence. While skills and qualifications are important, finding the right talent involves considering personality traits and work ethic.

At Remotebase, we have a rigorous screening process, which includes psychometric tests, to ensure that our candidates possess the emotional intelligence necessary to thrive in a remote work environment.

Sign up with us today to access a pool of highly qualified talent and take your business to the next level.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you assess a candidate's emotional intelligence during a remote interview?

You can ask open-ended questions requiring the candidate to share specific examples of how they've handled challenging situations, such as dealing with conflict or working under pressure. You can also pay attention to their tone of voice, body language, and how they communicate during the interview.

How can you ensure that remote employees are a good fit for your company culture?

You can establish a clear set of values and expectations that all employees must adhere to and ensure that these are communicated effectively during the hiring process. It's also important to provide remote employees with opportunities to engage with the rest of the team and participate in company-wide initiatives, such as team-building activities or town hall meetings.

What are some practical ways to onboard remote employees and make them feel welcome?

You can provide new remote employees with a detailed onboarding plan that includes information about the company culture, policies, and expectations. It's also helpful to schedule regular check-ins and provide opportunities for remote employees to ask questions and get to know their colleagues. Additionally, send welcome packages or organize virtual events to help remote employees feel connected to the team.

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