The role of emotional intelligence in the hiring process.

When evaluating whether a candidate is a good fit for your organisation, it can be easy to focus on hard skills.

Qualifications, training and experience are certainly important – particularly in health and social care fields governed by necessary regulations – but it’s also worth remembering that technical skills are only one side of what makes great employees, great teams, and great organisations.

In fact, research has shown that emotional intelligence (EI, also known as EQ as a counterpart to IQ) can be just as important, if not more so, in predicting success in the workplace.

What is emotional intelligence?

Simply put, it’s the ability to recognise and understand your own and others’ emotions, and use that awareness to manage your behaviour and relationships effectively. It includes skills like self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

The benefits of emotional intelligence in social care roles

Why is emotional intelligence so important in our sector? For one, it plays a big role in how well an employee will be able to navigate different workplace settings, get along with colleagues – and crucially, provide the best care to clients.

Employees with high EI are typically able to work well with others and build strong relationships, which can lead to a more cohesive and productive team as well as better client outcomes. They are also more likely to be able to handle conflicts, tricky clients and/or other difficult situations in a professional and effective manner.

But it’s not just relevant for workers in client-facing roles: emotional intelligence plays an enormous part in predicting an individual’s success in leadership roles. Leaders with high EI are able to inspire and motivate their teams to work cohesively and optimistically towards positive client outcomes, establish and maintain healthy workplace culture, and troubleshoot issues sensitively and effectively.

They are also better at managing their own emotions, which can be especially important in high-stress situations.

Assessing a candidate’s emotional intelligence during the hiring process

Here are some simple tips for evaluating a potential employee’s EI. These can also guide assessments of your existing staff to identify strengths and possible growth areas to improve your teams’ effectiveness.

  1. Look for evidence of EI in their resume and cover letter. Do they talk about working well with others or collaborating on team projects? Do they mention any leadership roles they have held? These can be indicators of strong EI.
  2. Ask behavioural interview questions. Behavioural interview questions are designed to elicit specific examples of how a candidate has handled certain situations in the past. Asking about a time when the candidate had to work with a difficult team member or client can give you insight into their EI.
  3. Consider using EI assessment tools. There are various assessments and tests available that can help you gauge a candidate’s EI. These can be especially helpful if you are considering a leadership role, as they can give you a more in-depth understanding of the candidate’s EI. Some examples include:
    1. The Emotional and Social Competence Inventory (ESCI)
    2. The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT)
    3. The Emotional Intelligence Appraisal

These are just a few examples of the many EI assessment tools that are available. It’s important to choose one that aligns with your organisation’s needs and goals, and to use it as part of a holistic evaluation process that includes other factors such as technical skills and cultural fit.

Developing emotional intelligence in employees

It’s also worth remembering that emotional intelligence is not a fixed trait – like other skills, it can be developed and improved upon. So, even if a candidate – or existing employee – doesn’t necessarily have a high EI at the moment, they may still be a good fit for your team if they are willing to work on their EI and grow in this area.

Be. Recruitment is a specialist recruitment partner for the health and social care sector. If you’re looking for quality talent screened by our expert consultants, get in touch for an obligation-free chat today.

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