Why is emotional intelligence so important in the modern workplace?

Every employer is looking for the perfect candidate – but what does 'perfect' mean? Well, in the modern workplace, selecting the best person for the role isn't as easy as analysing their CV and identifying relevant skills and experience.

With aspects such as collaboration, communication and problem-solving so important across many industries, there is less room for egos in our teams. An employee with all the skills in the world may cause more harm than good if they can't work with others or react in the best interests of the business. This is where emotional intelligence (EI) comes into play.

So, what is EI and how can you hire for it?

EI – more than just human interaction

The success of an organisation comes down to many factors. However, the difference between an average business and one that is an industry-leader is often how well its people work together. It doesn't matter whether it's relationships between colleagues, management, customers or suppliers, with clear communication skills and a focus on teamwork, a business has the framework for success.

Emotional intelligence is all about working well with others.Emotional intelligence is all about working well with others.

As a result, those with strong emotional intelligence should be sought after – individuals who can work with anyone and are flexible to respond to the needs of others. Also known as EI or EQ, Emotional Intelligence is a term created by researchers Peter Salovey and John Mayer and popularised by Daniel Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name.

It is defined as the extent to which an individual

  • Know and control their own emotions;
  • Know and control their own motivations;
  • Recognise emotions of others; and
  • Successfully handle relationships.

How to hire for emotional intelligence

The thing to remember with EI is that it takes some deeper digging into the mind of a candidate than simply reading a CV, especially since less than 1 per cent of Australians list any soft skills on their LinkedIn profile, according to Deloitte. This means your hiring process must be multi-faceted and really test an candidate's emotional state. 

With several possible avenues, which angle should your business take?

Pose questions that challenge thought process

The best place to test someone's EI is during the job interview process. Ask questions about specific projects and scenarios where they were met with criticism or needed to work with others. Are they able to keep things in perspective or do they become defensive and make excuses about the situation?

Get candidates talking about past experiences and reactions.Get candidates talking about past experiences and reactions.

It's important to remember that those with a high EI can acknowledge any shortcomings and will often be open about their experiences in the past. As such, asking questions that make candidates reflect on past achievements is a great way to go.

Ask referees about a candidate's emotional intelligence

The other great way to find candidates with good EI is through reference checks. Previous employers are as good a judge as any to determine how someone's emotional intelligence impacted their work as the work of those around them. Perhaps they have examples of when the individual used teamwork or management skills for a positive outcome or negotiated through a tough conflict with a client.

This type of firsthand knowledge paints a clear picture for you and your business gets an idea of how the candidate might fit into the framework.

Hiring for emotional intelligence

At Bayside Group, we understand the need to hire candidates who are ideal for your business. This is why we take a range of factors, including EI, into account when selecting people for your open role.

Our team is also able to test potential hires for emotional intelligence. If you are interested in learning more about this, feel free to get in touch