Three out of four employers are convinced that the emotional intelligence (EI) of their employees will be an important factor for corporate success in the coming years. This is the conclusion of the study “Emotional intelligence – the essential skillset for the age of AI” conducted by the Capgemini Research Institute. Against this background, however, it is incomprehensible that so few employers take this aspect into account when hiring new staff.
What is emotional intelligence?
A uniform definition of emotional intelligence is difficult – it is always based on the context in which it is considered. What is clear, however, is that it is a combination of several character traits that enable people to understand others and put themselves in their shoes. Typical sub-areas of emotional intelligence are, for example:
- Self-reflection: Is the leader able to reflect on his or her own strengths and weaknesses and understand the impact this has on his or her employees?
- Self-control: Is the person able to control his or her impulses and use his or her emotions purposefully to contribute to the success of the company?
- Self-motivation: Does the manager have the ability to motivate himself and does he act on his own initiative?
- Empathy: Can they put themselves in other people’s shoes? Does he or she have a certain sensitivity for the needs of others?
- Social competence: Is the person able to build trusting relationships and work with others?
Successful leadership is never based purely on above-average technical knowledge. Much more important is emotional intelligence, which enables leaders to appear confident and convincing, to inspire and motivate staff and to radiate optimism.
Questions that reveal emotional intelligence
But which questions are specifically suitable for revealing a candidate’s personal character? They always refer to fictitious situations or actual experiences in the past and are formulated in such a way that the candidate has to respond to his or her feelings. Typical examples:
- How do you deal with challenges? Give an example.
- How much do successes and failures affect your mood?
- Have you ever made a mistake? How did you deal with it?
- What was the last goal you achieved? Tell how you achieved it.
- Describe an unpleasant decision you had to make and how you implemented it.
- What do you do when you disagree with a colleague or staff member?
- Have you ever worked on several projects at the same time? How did you prioritise them?
- Which tasks are you passionate about and why?
- How do you deal with it when there are conflicts in the team?
- Already the way the candidate answers such questions gives a deep insight and can paint a multifaceted picture of his or her emotional intelligence.
Insight into Emotional Intelligence: Interpreting Candidate Behaviour
From the very first moment of arrival, the candidate shows his or her character. For the recruiter it is worth reading between the lines and paying attention to the candidate’s non-verbal behaviour:
- Does the candidate admit his weaknesses or mistakes instead of sweeping them under the carpet?
- What questions does the candidate ask? Are they more about the content of the work or about the relationship in the team and with superiors as well as the company culture?
- How does the candidate talk about situations in the past? Does he go into his emotions or does he limit himself to the factual side? How much detail does he go into?
- What is the relationship between emotional and rational statements?
Can the applicant listen well?
Of course, the emotional intelligence of a candidate cannot be expressed in numbers in this way. But the recruiter can get a more comprehensive picture that goes far beyond professional qualifications. In this way, he finds out whether an applicant also fits the company in terms of his character.
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