Do You Hire For IQ or EQ?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is becoming an increasingly important quality in the workplace and 71 per cent of hiring managers in the United States value EI in an employee more than IQ, found a recent survey of 2,662 hiring managers by CareerBuilder.  Fifty-nine percent of employers would not hire someone who has a high IQ but low EI. For workers being considered for a promotion, the high EI candidate will beat out the high IQ candidate in most cases – 75 percent said they’re more likely to promote the high EI worker.

“We’re starting to see a growing comfort in talking about (emotional intelligence) or soft skills,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice-president of HR at CareerBuilder in Chicago. “We’re starting to see, progressively, companies getting more comfortable admitting they’re using a more holistic view when making important decisions.”   The ability to remain calm under pressure is the top reason why employees with high emotional intelligence are sought after in the workplace, found the survey. This quality has been especially valuable over the last few years as many companies have been stretching employees and putting even more on their plates, said Haefner.

The ability to resolve conflict effectively is the second most desired trait of people with high EI, found the survey. “(EI) helps with managing emotions — for people not to lose it and to keep cool, especially in a team or leadership environment,” said Steven Stein, CEO of MHS (Multi-Health Systems) in Toronto, which publishes psychological assessments. “It keeps emotions at a level where you can function well and it prevents derailment.”

451846939When asked why emotional intelligence is more important than high IQ, employers said (in order of importance):

  • Employees [with high EI] are more likely to stay calm under pressure
  • Employees know how to resolve conflict effectively
  • Employees are empathetic to their team members and react accordingly
  • Employees lead by example
  • Employees tend to make more thoughtful business decisions

HR managers and hiring managers assess their candidates’ and employees’ EI by observing a variety of behaviors and qualities. The top responses from the survey were:

  • They admit and learn from their mistakes
  • They can keep emotions in check and have thoughtful discussions on tough issues
  • They listen as much or more than they talk
  • They take criticism well
  • They show grace under pressure

If you ever been on the side of the desk making a hiring decision, consider the criteria you’ve counted on when it comes to adding to your team.  (EI) Emotional Intelligence is not only what employers must look for in candidates, it’s also what they themselves must use when choosing who to hire.

Question:  How much impact have you placed on Emotional Intelligence in your hiring decisions?

Many organizations use the EQi 2.0 in their hiring process to reliably assess a candidates Emotional Intelligence.  For more information on the assessment, contact Tom Schreiber @ 913.568.2111 or

Posted in Career, Emotional Intelligence

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