What is Emotional Intelligence and How Can You Identify People Who Have It?

what is emotional intelligence

So exactly what is emotional intelligence? Back in 1983, developmental psychologist, Howard Gardener identified nine separate types of intelligence. These include naturalist, musical, logical-mathematical, existential, interpersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, linguistic, intrapersonal, and spatial.

Today, we’re going to examine two of those intelligences, interpersonal and intrapersonal: understanding of other people and of one’s self, respectively. While these have historically been undervalued in workplaces devoted to more cerebral skills, both types of what we would today call emotional intelligence are extremely important.

Why Emotional Intelligence?

Also called EQ – modeled after intelligence quotient IQ – emotional intelligence actually involves a range of different skills. These include:

  • Recognizing and expressing one’s own emotions effectively
  • Reading others’ emotions
  • Controlling emotions, even when it is difficult
  • Helping others manage their emotions

Emotionally intelligent people not only handle themselves well under pressure and provide a good sounding board for others, they can provide the glue to keep teams together, lighten the intensity of tough situations and bring out the best in peers and underlings. For these reasons, identifying the socially skilled during interviews should be a top priority.

Determining Whether Someone Is Emotionally Intelligent

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to slap an emotional intelligence test down on your desk when a candidate comes in to interview with you. Therefore, you need to cultivate your ability to recognize people with high emotional intelligence in other ways.

The good news about identifying emotional intelligence is that it’s often obvious when people have it. From the moment someone comes into the interview, you will know whether they put you at ease or not. You will also be able to tell if others like them just from brief interactions in the lobby or speaking with the receptionist, and can get an even deeper understanding if they interview with others at the company.

If standard operating procedure is to interview with only one person at your company, consider changing this to include others at the company. Especially for roles that involve a lot of human interaction – HR, marketing, customer service – you want to be sure this person will integrate well both with your staff and with the clients and customers you serve.

Find Better Team Members Today

Ready to find the best-suited candidates for your open position? It starts with the right interview questions to draw out a person’s emotional intelligence skills. These include questions such as:

  • What would you do if you saw a coworker crying in the bathroom?
  • How would you react if someone accused you of something you didn’t do?
  • Tell me about an ethical dilemma you faced at work, and what you did about it.
  • How would you resolve a dispute between two members if you thought they were both right?
  • What would you say to an employee who got a customer complaint that you believed to be unwarranted?
  • Tell me about a time you had a conflict with another employee and how you resolved it.

Understanding what you’re looking for when it comes to emotional intelligence, as well as putting these questions in your arsenal, will significantly increase your ability to land the right candidates. Of course, resume and experience matter, but if that person just won’t gel with company culture, it doesn’t mean much. Start employing these techniques today, and watch your team shine.

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