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How to Hire for Emotional Intelligence and Leadership

Research shows that individuals who embody a high level of emotional intelligence tend to make better employees and stronger leaders.

With a high level of understanding and empathy, they portray a sense of self-awareness, control and are better able to express their emotions.

These are the people who aren’t afraid to say no, but have no problem saying yes.

For the sake of your business, it’s important to factor in emotional intelligence and leadership when hiring new employees.

Why Hire for Emotional Intelligence and Leadership?

People with high emotional intelligence are more likable.

Don’t believe me?

Well, this will hold true when they’re seen handling client situations. With better customer care, they’ll be the one to end a conversation with a customer who is now happy and willing to speak highly of your business.

But how do you find such a fine employee?

You have to know how to hire for emotional intelligence and leadership, and what to look for when doing so.

Outline Your Ideal Employee

It’s important to do your own homework before searching for a new employee. You have to understand the needs of the staff and of the overall business.

Outline what you’re looking for to give yourself a blueprint when sifting through those resumes.

Don’t Just Look at Schools

When looking at prospective interviewees, don’t just look at the college they attended.

While it’s great that someone has attended Yale University, others may not have had the same opportunities.

There are so many other awesome applicants out there who come from state schools and smaller campuses with the abilities to prove they are are just as knowledgeable and strong willed as someone who has attended an Ivy league institution.

Don’t Just Look at Grades

It’s true, a GPA is definitely an important factor to look out for during the application process, but it’s also important to note the applicant’s other accomplishments during their college career.

Did he work two jobs?

Was he the captain of his sports team?

Did he double major and graduate a year early?

You can have an amazing applicant sitting right in front of you, but you’re already ruling him out because the girl you interviewed before him had a GPA of 0.20 points higher.

Don’t focus on grades, focus on overall emotional intelligence; The empathy, the patience, the awareness and all the other factors which make for a great candidate to add to your team.

Be Direct

When interviewing, be direct in your questions. It’s hard to gauge emotional intelligence and leadership when the person on the other side has no idea what you’re saying.

Have some questions ready, but also make sure to embody your own emotional intelligence.

Develop a feel for the personality of the applicant and cater your questions appropriately.

Don’t Ask Generic Interview Questions

When developing your questions, factor in the company culture. Make sure they’re appropriate to your personality and to the company style.

We don’t like to ask those generic questions because everyone’s prepared for the “Give me three strengths and three weaknesses” plug.

We ask questions to determine the interviewee’s ability to answer them on the spot and to gain a better feel for their personality.

We develop questions and statements more like “Tell me about a weakness of yours and how you look to change it.” and “Is there a person in your life who influenced your career?”

Understand the Different Types of Interviews

Behavioral event interviewing

A behavioral interview is focused on the past. In this case, you want to ask about past experiences in all areas of life.

Talk about experiences with past jobs, friendships and ask about their family.

Form questions such as:

  • Tell me about a time when you demonstrated leadership.
  • Tell me about a time when you disagreed with a parent or family member.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a conflict on the job.

These questions will allow you to evaluate a person’s thought process, knowledge and behaviors in the workplace. Their responses will offer a good indicator of how the candidate will behave in future situations.

Situational Interviewing

A situational interview is focused on the future. The question types require you to provide a scenario and ask how the candidate would handle the situation.

Form questions such as:

  • What would you do if you and your team realized you may not make the deadline?
  • What would you do if you made a recommendation in a meeting and your coworkers shot it down?
  • How would you handle a rude colleague at work?

This will help you to assess the interviewee’s ability to solve problems, for you to gauge their intelligence and to better understand their level of knowledge and expertise in the field.

Ask Culture Fit Questions

It’s important to hire someone who fits your company culture.

While a candidate may seem like a great person and is qualified for the job, maybe their set of values and personality type just isn’t a right fit for the office.

Ask questions like “Why ?” and “What values are most important to you?”

Vary Question Types

Don’t ask just one type of question during your interview. Vary your questions between professional and informal to make the candidate feel comfortable.

You’ll receive more honest answers from a comfortable person than you will from someone who is nervous and stiff.

Ask Follow-Up Questions

It’s hard to gauge someone’s personality when given vague answers. By asking follow-up questions, you’ll be able to dissect these answers to better understand the interviewee.

This won’t only assess the interviewee’s emotional intelligence through being able to think of a quick response, but it will create more conversation. Comfortable conversation will better portray the applicant’s amount of empathy and understanding for other people.

Pay Attention to Awareness and Self-Control

Awareness and self-control are huge factors when determining the level of emotional intelligence and leadership a person has. It’s important not only for the office atmosphere, but for client interactions as well.

Watch the applicant’s posture. Is he shaking his legs? Is he rocking in his chair? Does he keep playing with his fingers or other objects on the table?

If you said yes to these questions, this person may have a low level of self-control.

At the same time, if the applicant doesn’t recognize your attention to his fidgeting and movements, then he may also have low awareness.

Choose Someone Who’s Confident

With awareness and self-control comes emotion. While we want someone who can be passionate about their position in the business, we don’t want someone who is too scared or too obnoxious for the role.

While interviewing, it’s good to assess these following questions:

Can they handle their own emotions?

Someone who can handle their own emotions is better able to handle the emotions of others.

Again, this applies both to co-workers and to clients.

Can they speak their mind?

In a growing company, or any company, you want to hire the right people who will influence and push each other to do better.

In this sense, you don’t want a “yes man.”

Someone who agrees with everyone else is the type of person who won’t be able to push the business in the right direction.

We want to move up, not parallel.

At the same time, you don’t want someone who always says “no.” You need someone who is willing to throw out ideas, lead projects and compromise with other employees.

Assess Their Personality

Candidates think it’s all too easy to disguise their true personality and intentions.

Make sure to ask personal questions and develop human conversation. If they start telling you about that time they were almost given a ticket but wound up outrunning the cops, then they’re probably not the best type of person…

But if the position is for a professional Nascar driver, then maybe they are!

All in all, no one wants a poisonous personality in the office, and it’s your job to pick up on the small hints that may show cockiness or neglect.

Watch for Red Flags

It’s important to know what improper behavior to watch out for and how to recognize it. Even if the applicant has a stellar resume, how he acts on paper and off paper may be very different.

Watch out for these four points:

The preparedness of the interviewee

As a boss, you’ve done your homework for this meeting.

You’ve read up on the applicant coming in, you’ve gotten to know him better through social media and you read into his impressive resume.

After all that planning, nothing is worse than a person who walks in unkept and unprepared.

While you’ve done your part, the applicant should do the same. His unpreparedness shows a low level of caring and understanding… thus a low level of emotional intelligence and leadership.

The level of interest for the position

It’s easy to notice if an interviewee is there because he’s passionate about the company and the position he would hold.

It’s easier to notice if an interviewee is just there to make a buck and go home.

If anything, the interview process is the time for a candidate to give it his all. He should be excited and eager to better get to know the company and its employees.

A person with a clear lack of interest will probably carry this mood over to the position, and no one wants a poisonous personality in their office.

The level of social skills the interviewee holds

Poor social skills in an employee can reflect poorly on your company. An interviewee with a high level of emotional intelligence should be aware of social cues and nonverbal communication.

That person is the type of person who is able to have a conversation with anyone they meet, and will be able to handle client interactions better than someone who doesn’t embody that skill.

How the candidate speaks of others

If a candidate criticizes others, whether it be an old boss, coworker or friend, that’s a major red flag.

If he doesn’t have a problem talking badly of others, he shouldn’t have a problem talking badly about you and your company in the future.

All it shows is that respect is not a value which this person holds.

Always Call Their references

More often than not, employers ask candidates to list a few references on their application form.

More often than not, those references never receive a call…

Don’t make a reference list all about who could jot down the people with the highest statuses, make it about how highly these individuals are able to speak of your applicant.

It’s a good sign if a person has quality people in their life who are willing to stop and take the time out of their day to talk to you. It’s even better when they have no problem boasting about the applicant’s personality and accomplishments.

That’s the kind of guy you want to hire.

Ask Yourself These Post Interview Questions

The assessment doesn’t end when the applicant walks out the door.

Schedule some time for yourself to ask these important post-interview questions:

  1. What was the overall impression of the applicant?
  2. How will the applicant fit in with our company culture?
  3. Would the applicant be an asset to our team?
  4. Does the applicant have the right level of emotional intelligence for the job?

If you could answer these questions with all positive attributes, you may have the right person for the position.

Hire the Best Person for the Job

Congratulations, boss!

By hiring for emotional intelligence and leadership, you know you’ve found the right guy for the job.

Your new hire has the right levels of self-awareness, emotion and the poise to hold it all together.

Don’t worry about that client meeting. He can handle it.

Deborah’s birthday? He already had everyone sign the card.

You’ve found yourself a stellar new hire, and your employees, clients and your company culture will thank you.

…You may even give yourself a few pats on the back.

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