What is the one secret to successful recruitment?

You might think that recruitment is relatively easy – admittedly time-consuming, of course, but basically a simple task. All you have to do is sift through candidates’ applications, decide who you want to invite for an interview and then make your decision based on what happens in the interview. However, there’s more to the process than that.

It’s not really a secret because it should be common sense, but it’s something which is often overlooked in the recruitment process: assess candidates’ emotional intelligence. We get so hung up on trying to figure out if a candidate ticks all of the boxes in terms of his or her academic and professional experience that we forget to assess the person underneath the facts and figures.

In fact, it is the type of person who comes into a role, rather than the level of previous experience, that will determine whether the hire is a successful one or not. That’s not to say you should completely ignore the skills cited on a CV – there’s no point hiring someone whose skills are number-based for a copywriting job – but not enough consideration is given to character, personality and emotional intelligence when making a new hire.

Emotional intelligence and pay

So why is emotional intelligence such an important aspect of a successful candidate? The term basically refers to the ability of a person to measure and assess their own emotions and those of the people around them, using that emotional perception to guide their actions and interactions alike.

A study was undertaken at the University of Bonn in 2014 where participants were tested for emotional intelligence in addition to having their backgrounds assessed. The researchers and testers discovered that those who scored higher were considered to be more socially skilled by their colleagues and tended to be higher-paid. This outcome remained the same even after the researchers tested for alternative explanations for the higher incomes (i.e. age, gender, amount of training, position within the company, etc). This demonstrates the basic benefits that a high level of emotional intelligence can have on one’s professional progression, but is there more to it than that?

Emotional intelligence in the workplace

High levels of emotional intelligence mean that people are effective communicators; productive in their work because they are more capable of working with others and getting what they need to complete their tasks; able to develop strong relationships (especially important if their roles are heavily client-facing, but also in terms of fostering a harmonious team spirit); and easy to work with. They should therefore be highly valued members of any team.

While emotional intelligence can and should be developed as much as possible in those who are already part of the company, a lot of time can be saved by assessing the level of emotional intelligence on display from each candidate you invite in for an interview. It will be much easier to develop a high level of emotional intelligence in those people if they already have some.

Recruiting emotionally intelligent candidates

There are two ways in which recruiters can discern whether a candidate is emotionally intelligent prior to actually hiring and observing them on a daily basis.

  • Use interview questions

Interview questions are designed to offer insight into the way a person conducts themselves professionally and personally that you might not be able to discern in any other way. Questions like “How would you get an elephant into a fridge” seem like nonsense but provide employers with valuable insight about candidates (in this case, their approach to problem solving). However, you can use classic interview questions such as “Tell me about a time something went wrong at work and how you dealt with it” to find out whether someone works well in a team, what sort of personality they have, how they react to certain situations and so on.

  • Use a formal personality questionnaire

You may want to be more overt and actually ask candidates to complete a personality-based questionnaire that you can use to determine whether they will be good additions to the team. These can be downloaded for free online, or you can create your own to find out exactly what you want to see in a candidate – multiple-choice questions are the quickest and easiest ways of deciding whether someone will be a good fit or not.

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