Why to Hire 'Emotionally Intelligent' People

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When it comes to new hires, emotional intelligence is can be more important than experience.

When looking to hire new employees, people who can manage their emotions and read those of others might be better picks than people with impressive résumés. 

"If I were faced with those two candidates, hands down I’d pick the one with emotional intelligence," said Annie McKee, a senior fellow at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education who wrote about emotional intelligence for the Harvard Business Review.

The reason, McKee explained, is that teaching people self-awareness, self management and empathy (qualities emotionally intelligent people have) is much harder than teaching business and organizational skills.

McKee shared some advice with Money Talking host Charlie Herman about how to hire emotionally intelligent people:

1. Get candidates to tell stories of when they’ve been successful and not successful. Focus the conversation on relationship and people — because the skills related to people are the ones that are related to emotional intelligence (EI).

2. Talk to references. Ask references about specific concrete behaviors they observed. For example, what was their experience like with the job candidate in a team meeting or how did the person handled stress or conflict at work. Then ask them to tell you a couple brief stories.

3. Don’t ask them flat out if the have EI. It’s common enough that people will understand it’s important and they'll just say they do.

4. Don't use personality tests. McKee says they don’t work. "If you don’t have self awareness how can you possibly take a self-report test to measure your emotional intelligence," she said.

Extra tip: If you need to approach employees about their lack of EI, make sure to watch their behaviors carefully for a while so you have specific information to share. This kind of feedback can hurt, so it takes care and practice.

 

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