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Hiring for the Future Using Emotional Intelligence

Hiring for the Future Using Emotional Intelligence

One of the key driving factors behind every organization’s success is the people. People are the minds behind the operations to ensure business needs are met. Human capital is vital to each organization; in fact, they can either make or break the company. As one of the most important assets, it is crucial that companies hire and retain top talent. 

Hiring for the Future Using Emotional Intelligence


Current trends in human resources show that the workplace is shifting to a digital approach, with working remotely on the rise. This changing work environment affects both current and future employees. For instance, most interviews now take place virtually. Furthermore, newly hired employees will have to adapt to remote working situations and complete their training and onboarding processes online as well. As they have not worked in the office before, they may feel intimidated and unaware of the company’s culture and workplace norms. 

Another trend on the rise in the human resources industry is the hunt for soft skills.  Organizations are now not only looking for applicants who possess technical skills, but also soft skills such as creativity and emotional intelligence. According to The Future of Jobs Report by the World Economic Forum, emotional intelligence is one of the top 10 skills required for the workforce in the future. Emotional intelligence is a guiding principle to improved decision making, stress management and relationship building. And is now recognized as an emerging yet crucial skill for candidates to have. 

As the unemployment rate falls, jobseekers are keen to find a new role. Along with the trends of a changing workforce, employers must adapt while finding a way to scout the best candidates. To aid you in your mission, we have compiled a guide on how to hire for the future! 

How to Gauge Emotional Intelligence in Interviews


As mentioned above, emotional intelligence is now one of the top skills to look out for.  Traditional structured interview questions are not going to find recruits with high levels of emotional intelligence, instead, ask a series of open-ended, non-leading, behavioral questions like this: 

1. How do you motivate your team members?


This question can showcase a candidate’s ability to work in a team and approach to interpersonal relationships. While it is important that the candidate is able to stay self-motivated, they will also be working with others. Does the candidate value teamwork? How will their work behaviour affect team morale? This question can also be insightful if the candidate is applying to a position where they will need to lead a team, either in the present or future. Upon reviewing their answers, think of how the candidates’ skills and behaviours will also impact your team’s relationships. 

2. Tell me about a time when something went wrong. How did you handle it? 


This question can display a candidate’s emotional resilience. When the going gets tough, how do they manage? Do they simply give up or are they resilient? Their answer can also give insight about their problem solving skills and attitudes towards conflict. Think about how their situation could apply in your company and how their response would uphold. Take note if they mention anything they would have done differently. This is significant as you want candidates who are able to reflect upon their mistakes and learn from them.

As these questions are more personal, the candidate may need to take extra time to think about their answers. The interviewer should strive to make the interview process comfortable and build a safe space to allow more personal answers. Lastly, it is crucial to turn on cameras for virtual interviews. Leaving cameras on not only allows the interviewer to view the candidate’s expressions and reactions, but mirrors the in-person interview experience we were previously familiar with. 

Hire for Culture-Fit, not Skills and Experience

Imagine that you have just conducted two interviews for an administrative assistant role and need to make a decision by the end of the day. Candidate A possesses over five years of experience in a similar role and is highly proficient in the project management tools and Microsoft Suite. The only problem with Candidate A? They showed a lack of interest in working for your company, citing the salary as the main source of their motivation. Teamwork was also not seen as relevant to them either. As for Candidate B, they have less than a year of experience and stated they are unfamiliar with the project management tools, but would be willing to learn. In addition, they expressed their interest in the company through explaining how the company core values aligned well with their own. Their motivation was the potential to grow with the company and to learn from team members. Now that you know their backgrounds, who do you hire? 

While it may seem like the logical answer to pick Candidate A based on their experience, Candidate A exhibits low interest in the company and culture. In contrast, Candidate B may lack a few skills but shows a keen interest in learning and growing with the company. As Candidate B is well aligned with the company’s core values and culture, they would be the better choice. 

A company’s culture is an integral part of your business.  It can affect nearly every aspect of a company – from recruitment to employee satisfaction – it’s the core need of a happy workforce.  Without a clearly defined corporate culture, employees can struggle to find value in their work and this can greatly affect your bottom line. To help find candidates who possess similar values and culture, make sure your job descriptions contain a short blurb that defines your core beliefs.  

An Investment for the Future 

If your newly hired employee does not share the same values as the company’s, they are likely a short-term solution. Remember, you can always train for skills, but you cannot train for attitude and personality!  

Employees need to be treated as a long-term investment for your company, especially since human capital is the driving force behind turning visions into reality. As the workforce changes, be a step ahead by guaranteeing a smooth hiring process through leveraging emotional intelligence and selecting applicants who will contribute to your corporate culture. 

If you are interested in fostering a strong corporate culture, check out our workshop, Cultivating a Positive Corporate Culture. We also offer a Virtual Retreat, which provides a unique opportunity to build culture and bond teams on a deeper level through understanding how emotions impact workplace behaviours and relationships. You can also visit our previous blog post, Emotional Intelligence Interview Questions, for more examples of interview questions that can gauge a candidate’s emotional intelligence. 

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Emotional Intelligence Interview Questions

Emotional Intelligence Interview Questions

Are you tired of having to constantly recruit fresh new talent? We spend significant resources of time and money in creating emotional intelligence interview questions for leaders because we all know that people can make or break our business.

Are you sure you are hiring the best people into your organization? Will these individuals stay for their entire careers? Will they be a catalyst that pushes your company past all of its competitors?

The answers to all of these questions are YES…if you are hiring emotionally intelligent candidates.

Recruiting Emotionally Intelligent People

We all know that the higher up the proverbial corporate ladder you go, the more important your emotional intelligence skills are. Unfortunately, when you are entering the job market hiring managers tend to stick to more traditional interviewing methods (such as one-on-one job interviews) and hiring techniques (such as ubiquitous series of interview questions).

As an HR professional, your goal is to improve the candidate pool and hire the best. You want the cream of the crop to pick your organization as their employer of choice to continue their career. However, during the traditional one-hour interview you do not always wean out the best of the best. So, why is that?

Well, potential candidates are often asked more interview questions relating to their IQ and technical skills, and very few, if any, EQ interview questions.

Although you might be hiring a recent graduate who was top of his/her class, you do not know if they have the emotional intelligence skills needed to lead teams in the future.

According to Daniel Goleman, “as a leader moves up in an organization, up to 90 percent of their success lies in emotional intelligence.” It’s an essential skill that in the past has been undervalued as a ‘soft skill’, but now these skills are at the forefront of great leadership. “The rules for work are changing. We’re being judged by a new yardstick: not just by how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other.”

The Core EI Workplace Competencies

Richard Boyatzis has identified 14 core competencies that differentiate “outstanding leaders, managers, advanced professionals and people in key jobs” from average performers. Only two of these competencies are cognitive – the remaining twelve are emotional and social intelligence competencies.

So, ask yourself:

  • Are you tired of gambling to see if the up and comers you hired for their technical skills will have the talent and skills to provoke and ignite passion in others?
  • Will these candidates have the leadership you will be looking for later on in their careers?
  • How will you know if these individuals, as smart as they are, will have the skills to energize and inspire employees to make their best contribution to the organization?
  • Do they have the ability to motivate other great employees to stay?
  • Will they be able to keep all the best talent within your four walls?

Testing for Emotional Intelligence

Many hiring managers have a hard time constructing interview questions to test emotional intelligence and emotional self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. Therefore many HR professionals fall back on trusting their gut instincts and subjective first impressions.

The secret to enhancing your HR techniques and practices and ensuring you are screening out the best of the best is to utilize a few emotionally intelligent questions throughout your interview process.

People who have low emotional intelligence do not understand or know how to manage their own emotions. Additionally, they also don’t know how to read emotions in others. This much is evident when we see employees struggling to deal with stress, overcome obstacles, or resolve conflict. We see people who struggle with emotional intelligence when they are negative, blame the system/process, are excessively entitled, point fingers at others, resist change, procrastinate, and/or are overly sensitive or critical.

Nowadays every smart or experienced candidate has figured out how to answer the basic interview skills questions. While they may be technically competent, it is your job as a hiring manager to move away from the traditional interview model.

The traditional interview model consists of probing individuals about their past experience, and/or coming up with hypothetical and situational questions about similar circumstances. To move forward, the interviewer needs to delve into the candidate’s views and awareness of themselves, particularly in relation to others. These questions need to be non-leading and open-ended behavioral questions…which can reveal a lot about a person’s emotional intelligence level in how they answer them.

This will allow a candidate to open up and offer their own candid perspective versus the scripted one they practiced to land the job back at home role-playing when facing the mirror in their bathroom.

Emotional Intelligence Interview Questions

Here are a few questions you can use throughout your interview process to gain a better sense of the candidate’s emotional intelligence level.

1) Can you tell me about a time when you made a mistake in the workplace?

An emotionally intelligent person takes responsibility for their mistake; the non-emotionally intelligent candidate blames others for the mistake. Someone who has a high EQ would know it is okay to make mistakes; sometimes that is where the most profound learning comes from. They would also acknowledge the error, learn the lesson, make adjustments, and share with others how to avoid making similar errors.

2) Share a time when you received negative feedback about your performance

The emotionally intelligent person is open to feedback, appreciates him or herself, and is self-aware. They would use this feedback as an opportunity to grow and develop. Someone who has low emotional intelligence would become defensive, offended, and perhaps shut down.

3) Can you tell me about a time when you accomplished something you were proud of, but required help to do it?

An emotionally intelligent individual would share his or her success. Watch carefully the word choices the candidate uses. If they use words like ‘I’, ‘me’ or ‘my’…they may be self-centered and ego-focused. If they acknowledge the team for their help in achieving the success the team had, they take into consideration the feelings and efforts of others.

However, be careful – it’s a fine balance of using ‘I did…’ to show leadership, versus ‘I did…’ to take all of the glory. Traditionally behavioral-based questions are intended to lead into the ‘I did….’, or ‘my involvement was…’ answers, but you want to see if the candidate can answer these types of questions in that fashion while including and appreciating the rest of the team.

4) Describe a time when you had to share some bad news with a colleague.

 People with high emotional intelligence will display empathy in their delivery of the bad news.  They would be able to share the news while staying composed and not getting enmeshed in the other person’s stuff. They can respect and appreciate the feelings of the other person, but they can separate themselves from that person.

These four interview questions on emotional intelligence are just a starting point; so use them as a springboard for coming up with more, or adapting these to better fit your needs. Either way, with a few good emotional intelligence questions spread into your interviews, you can start to identify the level of emotional intelligence the candidate holds.

If you are meeting with someone who can demonstrate self-awareness about their own emotions, positive or not, and those of others, then you are heading down the right path. Chances are these candidates can move past anger, doubt, and anxiety; and they are flexible, empathetic, and confident when working with others.

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