Research from Robert Half has found the overwhelming majority (95 per cent) of Australian general managers believe it’s important for their employees to have high emotional intelligence (EQ). EQ is a measure of a person’s ability to recognise and react to other people’s emotions and their own.
Despite this, results from the survey show that while more than half (52 per cent) believe an adequate level of emphasis is put on sourcing candidates with the right level of EQ, one in five Australian companies admit that too little emphasis is put on emotional intelligence by employers during the hiring process (19 per cent) – highlighting the need for Australian companies to optimise their recruitment processes in order to source candidates with the right balance of soft and technical skills.
According to the research, the greatest benefits of having employees with high emotional intelligence are better collaboration (50 per cent), increased motivation/morale (50 per cent), better project management (48 per cent), improved leadership (46 per cent), and effective conflict resolution (25 per cent).
“A company’s success starts with its people, and the days when companies were solely looking for staff with a high IQ are over,” says Nicole Gorton, director of Robert Half Australia. “Emotional intelligence – EQ – has become essential to achieving a collaborative and high performing workplace culture, as it allows employees to work competently with others, easily adapt to different environments and effectively deal with challenges, resulting in agile teams who are quicker to react to market changes, which in turn will lead to a more competitive organisation.
“It can be challenging to balance emotional intelligence and technical skills when recruiting for a role as identifying someone’s soft skills, such as self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills, can be far more challenging than identifying a person’s technical skills,” she says. “Employers need to be proactive in identifying candidates with the right amount of emotional intelligence, such as by asking behavioural interview questions to gauge how the candidate manages difficult situations, and asking references how well an applicant handles criticism, resolves conflicts, listens to others, and motivates team members.”
Gorton says that high emotional intelligence among the workforce brings employee benefits too. Employees who have a high EQ generally are more efficient in managing stress, deliver desired outcomes and work well with colleagues across different areas of the business, which in turn will help them gain valuable experience and learn more, thereby increasing their overall market value.
“Employees are also more likely to be motivated when working within an adaptable and empathetic environment, meaning this type of workplace culture can simultaneously serve as a brand differentiator as it can be a decisive factor for top employees looking for their next job opportunity,” concluded Nicole Gorton.
The types of EQ interview questions hiring managers ask (and interviewees should be prepared to answer) in a job interview:
- If you’ve previously reported to multiple managers at the same time, how did you get to know each person’s preferences and juggle conflicting priorities?
- Tell me about a challenging workplace situation you were involved in, either with your peers or someone else in the company. How did you manage that challenge, and were you able to resolve it?
- What would a previous boss say is the area that you need to work on most? Have you taken steps to improve in this area, and if so, what have you tried to change?
- Tell me about a day when everything went wrong and how did you handle it? And in hindsight, how would you have handled it differently?
- If business priorities change, describe how you would help your team understand and carry out the shifted goals.