Want to Find Employees With High Emotional Intelligence? Look for These 4 Traits

In a recent survey of more than 2,600 hiring managers and HR professionals, HR company CareerBuilder found that:

  • 71% said they value emotional intelligence over IQ in employees
  • 75% said they were more likely to promote a candidate with high emotional intelligence over one with a high IQ

Why is that? Emotionally intelligent employees are more likely to stay calm under pressure. They admit and learn from their mistakes. They’re great communicators and build team chemistry.

But as an employer, how can you identify someone with emotional intelligence when you see it? Look for these 4 traits.

1. They Build Relationships.

You’ll often speak with over twenty candidates in the course of a job search. However, if their qualifications and experience are comparable, how can you tell who stands out?

The answer is you’ll remember those who build relationships. They might write in a letter after the interview with a mention of something they liked about the company or even a question they wish they answered differently.

By doing this, these candidates show they know how to use the power of emotion to build relationships and create rapport with people. 

2. They Ask Great Questions.

Most job applicants come to an interview and just go through the motions. They show up, answer a few questions and then go on their way. 

However, you should keep an eye out for candidates who also use the interview for their benefit. They ask more questions — they want to know what the company’s values are. They want to know what their first days on the job might look like.

By asking these further questions, they show they’re thinking about whether or not the job’s a good fit for their goals and skill set. They’re showing they have more care and interest than their counterparts.

3. They Work on Themselves.

To some interviewers, asking “What is your greatest weakness?” may seem like an old and useless question. However, it can actually be a great opportunity to identify emotional intelligence in job candidates.

Few people these days have taken the time to identify a true weakness within themselves. Even fewer have developed a plan to strengthen those weaknesses. 

To do so requires you admit that you’re not the greatest version of yourself. It requires intense self-reflection and critical thinking. Therefore, it shows emotional intelligence.  

4. They Aren’t Afraid of “Awkward Silences.”

When you ask most job candidates a question, they are often more worried about avoiding an “awkward silence” than they are about giving their best answer. 

However, you’ll often find that people with high emotional intelligence aren’t afraid to pause for a few seconds to get their emotions under control and give a more thoughtful answer.