What Does Emotional Intelligence Mean for Recruitment?
Posted on February 1, 2012 by Katherine Razzi
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify current situations and regulate one’s emotions based on these situations. It is believed that strong leaders possess high amounts of emotional intelligence. Because emotional intelligence is becoming more and more popular in the business world, recruitment efforts have adapted. Recruiters are now asking themselves the question, “Should we measure job candidates’ emotional intelligence levels during the hiring process?”
Many organizations have rigorous testing in place for their hiring process. The most common tests, which most of us have seen or taken, include personality, cognitive and mental ability tests. While we may not consider it a test, an interview is also an evaluation or “test” that organizations use to identify candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. This begs the question, is it appropriate to measure candidates’ emotional intelligence levels? What would these results tell us?
Emotional intelligence has been considered a strong indicator of how an employee will perform on the job and has also been an indicator of leadership behaviors (Downey, Papageorgiou, & Stough, 2006). Individuals high in emotional intelligence also report lower levels of stress and anxiety and higher levels of job satisfaction. All of these qualities are extremely positive for an organization. Therefore, it seems appropriate for organizations to want to test for emotional intelligence. If organizations can maintain high retention rates and employee strong leaders, the advantages are great.
Is a written test enough to measure one’s emotional intelligence level? There are many scales that do measure emotional intelligence. However, organizations have to be careful when using such tests because of the danger of self-reporting. As much as possible, we want to remove the possibility that a candidate does not answer a test honestly and instead gives answers that he or she believes will be perceived positively. Self-reports concern researchers because the possibility of a respondent faking reactions to a test.
Another way to measure an individual’s level of emotional intelligence is by utilizing assessment centers. Organizations can have candidates participate in assessment center evaluations that measure emotional intelligence and also other leadership skills. Assessment centers off a variety of activities that allow individuals to experience hands on evaluations. For example, in basket exercises present individuals with a “basket” of current tasks to complete. In this exercise, the individual is examined closely as they decide which tasks have the highest priority. Typically, the individual is given about 30 minutes to complete the activity within it is impossible to complete all the tasks. The exercise also investigates to what extent an individual is able to delegate tasks effectively, an important organizational leadership skill.
Assessment centers typically have more than one “rater” evaluating an individual’s behavior and reactions to different exercises. Compared to a self-reported test that an individual takes, the assessment center results offer more validity and reliability.
References: Downey, L., Papageorgiou, V., & Stough, C. (2006). Examining the relationship between leadership, emotional intelligence and intuition in senior female managers. Leadership and Organization Development Journal, 27, 250-264.