What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence in the workplace refers to a person’s ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as those of other people. Employees with higher levels of emotional intelligence will be better equipped to understand, express, and properly manage their own emotions, which is often essential in roles with a significant emotional load. In roles with a large interpersonal focus, emotional intelligence often underpins a person’s social skills, helping individuals navigate the complex interpersonal domain more confidently.
Those lacking in emotional intelligence will have difficulty working in roles which either involve a significant emotional load or are highly interpersonal. For example, in caring roles, those lacking in emotional intelligence will have difficulty empathising with those they care for, they may misinterpret their emotional signals, or may have difficulty expressing their own emotions effectively or appropriately. Similarly, in a customer service role, a lack of emotional intelligence could result in misreading emotional signals from customers, appearing unnecessarily abrasive or difficult to get along with.
As a result, emotional intelligence is a common core competency in roles with a significant emotional load or interpersonal communication.
Why Emotional Intelligence Matters
Emotional intelligence is essential to performance in roles with a significant emotional load, or a large focus on interpersonal skills. For example, medical professionals are often required to have excellent emotional intelligence, allowing them to effectively deal with highly emotive situations and to communicate tactfully with emotional people. Similarly, customer service executives may require emotional intelligence, allowing them to readily empathise with their customer’s needs and thus better serve them as required. In both cases, a lack of emotional intelligence could result in confrontation, unnecessary stress, and a general disconnect between the staff member and their customers, colleagues, stakeholders, or service users.
Emotional intelligence is a common core competency
As a competency, emotional intelligence is a common requirement in roles with significant interpersonal interaction, emotional load, or where unintended emotional reactions may be damaging. These roles include, but are not limited to: medical professionals, mental health professionals, customer service staff, managers, and executives.
How to Assess Candidates on their Emotional Intelligence
Trait emotional intelligence as a psychological construct is underpinned by a range of specific behavioural traits, which vary depending on the model of emotional intelligence used. Generally speaking, models of emotional intelligence comprise a range of common traits and behavioural dispositions, including empathy, effective emotional expression, emotion-based decision making, and social tact. A person’s overall emotional intelligence is an aggregate score of these relevant underlying traits, rather than a single uni-dimensional trait. As a result, personality questionnaires designed to measure emotional intelligence are the best way to measure emotional intelligence for recruitment.
Although many hiring managers ma try to measure emotional intelligence using an interview, this is unlikely to be effective. Although certain traits such as positive expression could be measured with an interview, the majority of behavioural traits that underpin emotional intelligence are difficult to convey in an interview. Indeed, with sufficient experience in interviewing, skilled interviewees could quite easily convince interviewers that they hold significant emotional intelligence, regardless of their actual level of emotional intelligence. This is particularly true regarding emotional decision making and level of empathy, which are especially difficult to honestly convey in an interview, but easy to exaggerate or outright lie about.
Our recommended Test Partnership assessments for measuring emotional intelligence Assessment(s):
Relevant TPAQ Trait(s):
- Emotional intelligence