The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Management and Hiring

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In the competitive arena of job interviews, we think of skills and qualifications as taking center stage, but there’s an equally important criteria for success: EQ/Emotional Intelligence. While technical expertise and IQ (or cognitive intelligence) have traditionally been regarded as critical factors in determining an individual’s potential for success in a management role, Emotional Intelligence (EQ) can determine a candidate’s fit within a company culture and their long-term success in a role.

Emotional Intelligence encompasses a set of skills that enable individuals to recognize, understand, and manage their own emotions, as well as those of others. It’s the ability to navigate social complexities, communicate effectively, and empathize with others. Unlike IQ, which tends to remain relatively stable throughout life, EQ can be developed and honed over time through self-awareness and practice.

Emotional intelligence comprises several components that collectively enable individuals to understand and manage their own emotions and empathize with others. These include:

Self-awareness: Recognizing and understanding one’s own emotions, including strengths, weaknesses, values, and motives.

Self-regulation: The ability to control one’s emotions, impulses, and reactions, especially in challenging situations. This includes managing stress, staying calm under pressure, and adapting to change.

Motivation: Being driven by personal passion and goals rather than external rewards. It involves persistence, resilience, and the ability to delay gratification.

Empathy: Understanding and recognizing the emotions of others and being able to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes”. This includes being aware of others’ perspectives and feelings.

Social skills: The ability to build and maintain relationships, communicate effectively, resolve conflicts, and work well in teams. This involves skills like active listening, persuasion, and leadership.

These components are interconnected and contribute to an individual’s overall emotional intelligence, which plays a crucial role in professional success, as well as in fostering healthy professional and personal relationships.

Why is EQ Important?

  1. Relationship Building: In today’s collaborative work environments, the ability to build strong relationships is paramount. Candidates with high EQ are better equipped to make strong connections with colleagues, clients, and stakeholders, leading to enhanced teamwork and productivity.
  2. Leadership Potential: Leaders are not just those with the highest IQ or technical expertise but those who can inspire, motivate, and guide others. Emotional intelligence enables individuals to understand and respond to the emotions of their team members, fostering trust and loyalty.
  3. Conflict Resolution: Workplace conflicts are inevitable, but how they are managed is critical to the success of the team. Employees with high EQ are adept at resolving conflicts constructively, de-escalating tense situations, and finding mutually beneficial solutions, thus fostering a harmonious work environment.
  4. Adaptability: One of the top traits of successful managers is adaptability. Individuals with high EQ are more resilient in the face of change, able to remain calm under pressure, and pivot when necessary, making them invaluable assets to any organization.

How Do We Measure EQ in Candidates?

While assessing technical skills and qualifications is relatively straightforward, evaluating emotional intelligence can be more challenging. However, there are several strategies that recruiters can employ to gauge EQ during the hiring process:

  • Behavioral Interviews: Asking candidates to share examples of how they’ve handled challenging situations or conflicts can provide insight into their emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills.
  • Psychometric Assessments: There are a variety of assessments designed to measure emotional intelligence, providing recruiters with quantitative data to supplement their qualitative observations.
  • Reference Checks: Speaking with former colleagues or supervisors can offer valuable insights into a candidate’s interpersonal skills, emotional resilience, and overall EQ.


In the pursuit of assembling high-performing teams, it’s essential not to overlook the importance of emotional intelligence in the hiring process. While technical skills and qualifications are important, it’s EQ that can distinguish exceptional candidates, especially for management roles. By prioritizing emotional intelligence in recruitment efforts, organizations can cultivate a culture of empathy, collaboration, and innovation, setting the stage for long-term success and growth.