section one

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Lead consultant at Test Partnership, Ben Schwencke, explains what is emotional intelligence.

1:00 Quickly understand emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence (also known as EI) is a person’s propensity to understand emotions and interpersonal communication. Emotional intelligence has both an interpersonal, and an intrapersonal component, helping people to understand their own emotions and those of other people. Consequently, emotional intelligence is independently essential to both mood regulation, and navigating the social domain. Without emotional intelligence, people tend to struggle with their emotionality and have difficulty building or maintaining personal relationships.

Emotional intelligence assessments tend to take one of two forms. Firstly, we have trait-based models of emotional intelligence, which suggest that emotional intelligence is a behavioural construct and is thus measured similarly to personality traits. Consequently, trait-based emotional intelligence questionnaires tend to adopt the personality questionnaire format, and are often included within larger personality questionnaire batteries. Alternatively, ability-based models of emotional intelligence also exist, suggesting that emotional intelligence is an ability more akin to cognitive intelligence. In these assessments, emotional intelligence is measured with objective questions that have explicitly correct or incorrect answers i.e. reading facial expressions, appraising social situations, recognising other people’s moods etc.

Research shows that emotional intelligence is a useful predictor of job performance in role with a high-degree of emotional labour or social interaction.

Consequently, emotional intelligence assessments are commonly used selection tools in these roles, usually during the early stages of the recruitment process. This ensures that successful candidates have the requisite levels of emotional intelligence, protecting them from compassion fatigue or social burnout. It also helps minimise the probability of hiring candidates who display counterproductive work behaviours, particularly regarding conflict and interpersonal hostility.

Discover why emotional intelligence is important in the workplace.