In recent years a number of thought leaders have argued that not enough emphasis is placed on emotional quotient (EQ) in the hiring process. Atta Tarki, CEO of Ex-Consultants Agency, a specialized Executive Search Firm, wrote in Forbes Los Angeles Business Council Community:
“I disagree: It’s not the lack of emphasis that prevents organizations from hiring emotionally intelligent leaders, but the lack of clarity and robust evaluation methods.”
Over the past few years, I have worked with a number of organizations that have had a strong emphasis on EQ in their hiring process. Despite tremendous efforts, these organizations were not able to improve their hiring results. Why is that? And is there a better way? I recently studied this topic with the researcher David Caruso of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence.
We specifically wanted to delve into the main reasons why most organizations that try to hire for EQ find it challenging to achieve tangible results, plus alternative approaches.
Here’s what we learned.
EQ usually refers to a hodgepodge of traits that are unrelated to either emotions or intelligence.
In order to hire for a trait, you need to agree on what it is. One interviewer may be seeking happy leaders and another, assertive leaders. Both traits have been labeled EQ. My advice is to be specific in what you mean by EQ and find an objective way to measure it.
The focus on traits has led to hiring managers trying to assess deep candidate characteristics based on limited data points.
“Did the candidate socialize with the receptionist? No? Then we shouldn’t hire them.”
The problem with these types of anecdotal data points is that most of them are not reliable. My recommendation is to focus on ability instead of traits. Ability is easier to measure in a more reliable fashion.
You can measure ability by focusing on four hard skills related to emotional intelligence:
- Accurately perceiving emotions;
- Understanding emotions;
- Aiding thinking and decision making with emotions
- Effectively managing emotions.
Many organizations don’t consider whether EQ actually predicts job success.
They just assume it does.
It’s difficult to imagine a job in which it’s a disadvantage to accurately perceive emotions. However, this does not mean that this skill is effective in predicting job success.
Although it may seem harmless to screen for EQ on top of everything else you are screening for, adding insignificant criteria to the list of skills you screen for in an interview has been shown by Yale professor Jason Dana to dilute more accurate prediction methods and lead to worse hiring decisions.
My recommendation is to do your homework. Once you agree on what emotional intelligence is, make sure your top performers actually possess those traits. Be as objective as possible. Then do your job analysis before launching into hiring and selection to make sure emotional intelligence is a needed skill for that particular role.
Full article “How to use your IQ to hire for EQ” (Forbes)