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Emotional Intelligence

Evaluating a candidate’s emotional intelligence is a vital part of the interview process. It allows you to assess and determine a candidate’s potential for success. Sure, candidates will often be nervous and may not put their true selves forward right away, but an adept hiring manager or recruiter can artfully work around those limitations to see the real persona beneath. And, having the right qualifications and experience isn’t the only thing. It may not even be the most important thing.

Some important things to look for in a candidate that will show their level of emotional intelligence:


Does the candidate listen? This seems like a no-brainer. Of course, we all want a new hire who knows how to listen. But are you really assessing this well, or giving them a pass? It’s one of the simple metrics that is most often overlooked. A candidate should be able to listen without interrupting or getting defensive to criticism or challenging questions. A good listener looks you in the eye, is not highly reactive, and pauses to think or take a breath before responding. Good listening skills allow a new hire to be a compassionate leader and a thoughtful team member. Good listeners excel and succeed because they gain insight and understanding of the people and circumstances around them without their ego getting in the way. Those who have this important emotional skill are able to make great change and reach high levels of success in their career. Another important aspect of communication to look for is their speech.

How does the candidate speak? Does she speak with confidence or arrogance? Does he speak with vulnerability or insecurity? During this part of the process, you can evaluate a candidate’s honesty and forthrightness, and his ability to express himself with empathy whether issuing criticism or praise. And not only is the tone of the delivery important – but the content certainly is too. Is there clarity in what the candidate is expressing?


What is the candidate’s overall demeanor? This may sound trivial at first. Yes, we all want candidates to appear well groomed and dressed professionally. But there’s a subtle layer beyond that which can reveal a candidate’s overall maturity and resilience in the face of turmoil.

A candidate’s demeanor can reveal whether she can stay calm in difficult situations. Can they make sacrifices for the greater good? Can they take the initiative while still being kind? Is the candidate personable? There will always be tough times ahead so you want a candidate who can face difficulty and help solve problems; and someone who can bounce back from adversity – without a lot of drama. Keen attention to a candidate’s tone, body language and facial expressions can reveal a lot about their demeanor. A seasoned recruiter or hiring manager is tuned into these subtle clues that may otherwise go unnoticed.


Lastly, what are your candidate’s values? This is in some ways subtler than demeanor but there are concrete tactics for discerning a candidate’s values. You want a candidate to have similar core values as the company. Some core values are obvious and are what just about any company is looking for – such as honesty. Others will be unique to your institution, so it’s important to know exactly what those are so you can find a candidate who aligns with those as well. Asking key questions that get to the essence of a candidate’s core values will help move the process forward and give them an opportunity to share what is truly important to them.

Are you effectively assessing your candidate’s emotional intelligence in the hiring process? Get the highest return on your recruiting investment – let BrainWorks find the most qualified candidates in your next Consumer Products Search.

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