Assessing Emotional Intelligence When Hiring for Executive Positions

There's been a lot of talk about emotional intelligence over the last few years, but what exactly is it? And how can hiring managers assess a person's emotional intelligence in the interview process?

What is Emotional Intelligence?

At its core, emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) refers to a person's ability to recognize and understand their own emotions and those of others. This includes being able to control and manage your emotions in different situations, reading others' emotions, and responding appropriately to them.

Where did the term Emotional Intelligence originate?

The term "emotional intelligence" was first coined by Wayne Payne in his doctoral thesis in 1985. However, the concept of emotional intelligence has its roots in theories of intelligence that go back much further.

The idea that emotions play a role in intelligence can be traced back to the ancient Greeks, who believed that emotions and reason were interconnected.

In the modern era, the concept of emotional intelligence was further developed by psychologists and researchers, including Daniel Goleman, who popularized the term and the concept in his book "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ."

Emotional Intelligence in the Hiring Process

In the hiring process, EI is crucial for those looking to fill executive positions. Overall, while emotional intelligence may not be as important as other factors when hiring for lower-level positions, it is an essential quality to look for when hiring for executive positions.

Some key skills to look for when assessing EI in candidates include self-awareness, empathy, conflict resolution, collaboration, and adaptability.

For example, a manager with high EI is able to read their team members' moods and respond accordingly, whether by providing extra encouragement when someone appears to be struggling or by stepping in and resolving a conflict before it escalates.

As a hiring manager, it's essential to consider a candidate's EI when considering them for an executive-level position, as it can be a crucial factor in their success in the role.

Assessing Candidates' Emotional Intelligence

Here are some ways you can measure and assess a candidate's EI/EQ:

  1. Use behavioral interviews and scenario-based questions: One way to assess a candidate's EI is to ask questions that require them to describe how they have handled emotions in the past. For example, you could ask them about a time when they had to deal with a difficult situation or person and how they approached it. This can give you insight into their ability to recognize and manage their own emotions and how they respond to the feelings of others.
  2. Look for emotional intelligence in their resume and cover letter: A candidate's resume and cover letter can also provide clues about their EI. Look for examples of teamwork, leadership, or conflict resolution skills, as these can all be indicators of strong EI.
  3. Observe their body language and communication style: During the interview, pay attention to the candidate's body language and communication style. Do they make eye contact and listen actively? Do they express their thoughts and feelings clearly and respectfully? These can be signs of high EI.
  4. Consider their emotional intelligence in the context of the role: It's important to consider a candidate's EI in the context of the role they are being considered for. For example, if the role involves managing a team, strong EI skills like empathy and conflict resolution may be particularly important.
  5. Know what emotional intelligence is and how it impacts your workplace: Above all, educate yourself on its importance in the workplace, and use this knowledge to make more informed hiring decisions.

Several formal methods and professional assessment tools can also be used to measure candidates' emotional intelligence. Some of the most common examples include the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), the BarOn EQ-i, and various 360° feedback surveys.

Why does emotional intelligence matter for executive-level positions?

Emotional intelligence is a critical quality for executives, as they are often responsible for leading and motivating a team and making important decisions that can impact the entire organization.

Research has shown that individuals with high EI tend to be more successful in leadership roles, as they are better able to understand and manage their own emotions, as well as the emotions of those around them. This leads to improved communication and collaboration and a more positive work environment.

In conclusion, as a hiring manager, it's important to consider a candidate's emotional intelligence when evaluating them for an executive-level position. Using behavioral interviews, analyzing their resume and cover letter, observing their body language and communication style, and considering the specific requirements of the role can all be effective ways to assess a candidate's EI.

Remember, strong EI skills can be a crucial factor in the success of a leader, so it's worth taking the time to evaluate this vital quality.

How an Executive Search Agency can help find candidates with a good EI fit?

As a hiring manager, one of your top priorities is identifying and hiring candidates with the right skills, experience, and emotional intelligence for your executive-level roles. An executive search partner can help you find these candidates by leveraging their extensive networks and industry expertise to connect you with qualified candidates with the necessary EI skills to excel in your organization.

The executive search agency will work closely with you to understand your specific requirements and the key competencies needed for success in the role. They can help you identify and prioritize these criteria if you haven't yet defined them.

They will then thoroughly search their extensive networks and databases, screening candidates based on these requirements and identifying those with the necessary EI skills for the position. This can save you time and effort in your hiring process and help you find candidates who are a good fit for your organization.

Overall, an executive search agency can be a valuable partner to help you identify and hire top talent with the right emotional intelligence skills for your executive-level positions.

At Oggi, we help you take the guesswork out of evaluating candidates so that your hires are ideally matched to not only the role but also your culture and values. Contact us today to learn how partnering with Oggi can streamline your executive search process and prevent hiring misfires by navigating the vetting process for you.


FAQ 1: What is Emotional Intelligence?

Answer: Emotional intelligence (EI or EQ) is a person's ability to recognize and understand their own emotions and the emotions of others. It encompasses managing one's emotions effectively, interpreting the emotions of others, and responding appropriately. Key EI skills include self-awareness, empathy, conflict resolution, collaboration, and adaptability.

FAQ 2: Where did the term "Emotional Intelligence" originate?

Answer: The term "emotional intelligence" was first coined by Wayne Payne in 1985, but the concept has ancient roots in the belief that emotions and reason are interconnected. In modern times, it was popularized by Daniel Goleman in his book "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ."

FAQ 3: How can hiring managers assess Emotional Intelligence in candidates?

Answer: Hiring managers can assess EI in candidates by using behavioral interviews and scenario-based questions to gauge how they've handled emotional situations in the past. They can also review resumes and cover letters for indicators of strong EI, observe the candidate's body language and communication style during the interview, and consider EI within the context of the specific role.

FAQ 4: Why does Emotional Intelligence matter for executive-level positions?

Answer: Emotional intelligence is crucial for executives who lead teams and make impactful decisions. High EI is linked to successful leadership as it improves communication and collaboration and fosters a positive work environment. Executives with strong EI can understand and manage their emotions and those of their team, enhancing their leadership effectiveness.

FAQ 5: How can an Executive Search Agency assist in finding candidates with a good Emotional Intelligence fit?

Answer: An executive search agency can help hiring managers identify candidates with the right emotional intelligence for executive roles. They leverage their networks and expertise to connect with qualified candidates possessing the necessary EI skills. They work closely with hiring managers to understand role requirements, prioritize competencies, and then conduct a thorough search to find the best-matched candidates, streamlining the hiring process.

Oggi Talent specializes in facilitating this process, ensuring you make well-informed, emotionally intelligent hires.

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