Emotional Intelligence Undervalued In The Hiring Process
One in four (25%) U.K. business leaders says that emotional intelligence (EQ) is undervalued in the hiring process, according to research by recruitment firm Robert Half U.K. This is despite the majority of businesses (60%) reporting it as a very important skill for their employees. The study was based on more than 400 interviews with general managers from companies across the U.K.
The importance of emotional intelligence has already been underlined by a recent World Economic Forum report which predicts that EQ will become one of the top ten skills for employees by 2020.
The fact that EQ is considered increasingly important for organizations comes as business leaders are looking for employees who have more than just technical skills. Employers are placing greater emphasis on soft skills to cope with the rapidly changing and uncertain business environment.
EQ is about people who have social and interpersonal skills, remarked Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organizational psychology and health, Alliance Manchester Business School, University of Manchester. “They are able to communicate their feelings and aware of other people’s feelings.”
The study also identified the benefits of hiring employees with high emotional intelligence. Business leaders cited increased motivation and morale (46%), improved leadership (45%) and better collaboration between teams (37%) as the primary benefits. Indeed, only 4% of U.K. businesses say that a high EQ offers no additional benefits to the business at all.
Despite these advantages, managers still believe there is too little importance attached to emotional intelligence during the hiring process. Over half of managers claim that minimal importance is placed on EQ during the hiring process – with 54% saying they place ‘just enough’ importance on EQ but more could be done.
Identifying skills gaps and securing the right talent is crucial for long-term success in today’s competitive recruitment environment. Businesses must prioritize the skills and qualities they expect from potential candidates,” comments Matt Weston, U.K. managing director at Robert Half. “In the current war for talent, employers must find the right balance between skills and personality – evaluating what characteristics are required within the team and what skills can be taught.”
Cooper believes that organizations recruit on basis of a candidate’s performance in the job and whether they hit the bottom line.
Sometimes, organizations use psychometric testing in assessment centers for management pools but they don’t test for EQ. Organizations look at whether you’re extrovert or introvert but none of it looks at whether a candidate is good with people.”
EQ is absolutely vital for managers, says Cooper.
It’s not essential for all staff but it does help with team building. It’s absolutely essential for a manager as if you cannot bring people together, then an organization has problems.”
Cooper added that EQ measures do exist in the marketplace and there are measures for compassion and empathy.
Organizations don’t measure EQ during the recruitment process as the economy is so competitive and there are fewer people doing more work. The people above recruitment managers may say it’s nice to have people with high EQ but they are also saying hire people who deliver in the short-term and get results.”
The consequences of failing to hire managers with high EQ are pretty severe now due to Brexit, remarks Cooper. “We have a lot of uncertainty in the workplace and employees are worried about job security. If you don’t have managers with EQ, then the organization will be in trouble.”
There are some questions that hiring managers should ask themselves while they are evaluating a candidates potential, advises Weston. These include:
If an applicant talks about a failure, does the comment suggest an awareness of some personal responsibility for the episode, or does he or she simply blame others?
When it comes to handling criticism, is the person able to acknowledge any shortcomings and keep things in perspective rather than becoming defensive and making excuses?
What about teamwork? Can candidates describe how they have confronted simmering issues and helped to solve them with a team, or are the answers slanted more individually? Similarly, do they credit team members for successes?
Do candidates seem genuinely interested in the job and the people they’ll be working with? Or do you sense indifference?