March 10, 2016
hire on emotional intelligence

5 must-have tasks to hire better leaders based on emotional intelligence.

How to evaluate emotional intelligence of applicants when hiring great leaders instead of mediocre managers.

by Ieva Melke

When hiring for senior level positions, most recruiters are looking for great leaders instead of managers. Leaders will lead the team, keep them motivated even when the going gets tough. Managers, from another hand, will have people who work for them, but they won’t be as motivated and giving their fullest as working for someone with strong leadership skills. What sets leaders apart from managers is their emotional intelligence.

Even big players like Google are relying more on emotional intelligence rather than who was the person’s latest employer or what grades they received in college. The reason is clear – leaders have the ability to work well with others and make the needed change.

When looking to hire a leader, emotional intelligence should be included as part of the selection criteria. As stated by Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence involves self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

Consider including the following within the recruitment process when sorting and selecting candidates. Luckily for you, it won’t cost a fortune.

1. Stop using self-report test.

There are two reasons why they won’t let you assess the emotional intelligence of the candidate. Firstly, if a candidate is not self-aware, how can he possibly assess his own emotional intelligence? Secondly, if you’re in luck and the candidate is in matter of fact self-aware and knows his lack of empathy or inability to work in team, they most likely aren’t going to tell the truth when interviewing for a job.

2. Take the “getting references” part more seriously.

Letters of reference simply aren’t going to cut it when it comes to understanding your candidate’s emotional intelligence. Spend more time talking with the person referring the candidate – ask specific and pointed questions about how the candidate demonstrated various emotional intelligence competencies. Dig deeper into examples and collect all the details.

Consider topics like how the candidate deals with change, how he motivates and praises subordinates and other team members, how aware he is of his own abilities.

3. Do assessment centers.

Most recruiters believe they are already interviewing for emotional intelligence. The truth is – they aren’t. The reason for this is: recruiters allow candidates to be vague in their responses and fail to ask detailed oriented follow-up questions. Even when asking directly about emotional intelligence or emotional intelligence related competencies, candidates talk about an idealized notion of themselves and what they’d like to be, rather than how they really behave. To overcome this obstacle use assessment centres. The assessment centre exercise will enable to assess closely candidate’s behaviours, that are needed for the role.

For example, Starbucks is doing 2 day assessment centres for their high potential leadership candidates. It consists of a tailor made business simulation exercise and requires candidates to think strategically and tackle a wide range of business issues.

4. Pay attention to body language.

Face-to-face interviews can not only give an opportunity to assess the more specific requirements for the role, but can as well signal the emotional intelligence of candidate. Pay attention whether the candidate crosses his arms, move their feet back and forth, or bite their lip. Learning to assess the candidate’s body language can be a great asset when hiring based on emotional intelligence. Based on it, you can read whether the message sent is being positive or negative and determine how the candidate truly feels in the situation. In order to get more insights on what body language traits leaders hold, I suggest you look through the following article.

5. Introduce candidate with the team.

Hiring based on emotional intelligence can be a difficult process when done by only by recruiter. Nevertheless, since the roles that require leaderships skills entail working in a team, consider introducing the last stage candidates with the team and let couple of team members have 5-10 minute short coffee meetings. This will enable not only to test candidate’s emotional intelligence, but as well how team would respond to the new addition to the group. Consider as well introducing the candidate with different level employees, meaning not only senior management. It’s essential that the candidate is being perceived well by the whole organisation and seen as potential leader. After all, you aren’t looking to hire another Napoleon.

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