It’s easy to spot a good candidate – just take a look at their skills and professional experience. Now, to find a great candidate, that is another story.

Finding top talent is a bit more complicated than perusing through a CV, because the best employees not only have the required technical skills, but emotional skills as well.

In fact, the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs report noted that emotional intelligence (EQ) will be among the top ten most wanted employee skills by 2020. Employees will have to develop skills like emotional intelligence in order to compete in the advent of artificial intelligence (AI) and the ever-changing workforce.

But how do you screen candidates for emotional intelligence? It’s a bit more tricky than testing a candidate’s writing skills. Here are four suggestions to help recruiters know if a candidate has high emotional intelligence.

1. Ask the candidate’s references.

Former colleagues or ex-bosses can give insights into a candidate’s character. Sure, they can answer common questions such as the candidate’s work performance or the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses. But a better way of doing it would be to inquire about how the candidate manages themselves and others.

Try asking the following:

  • How did the candidate handle a mistake that they made?
  • On a scale from 1 to 10, how well did the candidate get along with other candidates? Why do you think that was?
  • What do you think motivates this candidate?

By asking these questions, you can gain insights on the candidate’s sense of accountability, ability to socialize with colleagues and superiors, as well as their personal motivations. It will give you an idea how the potential candidate will behave in the future.

2. Observe how the candidate interacts outside of the official interview.

Ask you front desk officer, receptionist, or even the elevator operator to help you gauge the candidate’s emotional intelligence. Was the applicant nice and friendly or were they arrogant and rude? Did they talk down to the office cleaners or the receptionist? If they can respectfully talk to anyone in the office, regardless of their position, that’s a good indicator of emotional intelligence.

Charles Schwab’s CEO, Walt Bettinger, tests candidates by inviting them to a breakfast meeting—and asking the restaurant to deliberately mess up their order. Bettinger says he pays attention to how they respond. Whether they show anger or understanding toward the wait staff, it all shows the candidate’s emotional intelligence.

3. Do a test run.

You can test run a candidate by offering them a short term contract first, to see how they would do on the actual job. This is a more objective way of reviewing a candidate’s soft skills before bringing them on full-time. This allows you to assess if they have the right skills, if they are a good cultural fit, and if they actually have a high emotional intelligence.

Some companies, instead of a job interview, ask the candidates to come for a “job audition,” where candidates are asked to perform the job they are applying for before they’re hired. They go through trial run of the actual work that they would be performing.

Harvard Business Review CEO Matt Mullenweg says working with someone every day will give you personality insights that you can’t get from their CVs, interviews, or references.

4. Use personality tests.

Personality assessments can give recruiters an idea of the candidate’s personality and EQ using job simulations and role-playing exercises to measure a candidate’s problem-solving and interpersonal skills.

Koru, a 20-minute online test, uses machine learning and analytics to see if the candidate you’re trying to hire could be a good fit for the company. It is touted as “predictive hiring,” where the test assesses different personality traits so you can gain emotional intelligence insights about your applicant.

You can also create your own assessments, like how Amtrak has a 104 multiple-choice assessment called Amtrak’s Culture Fit Assessment. The test is meant to evaluate the likelihood of a candidate performing behaviors that is in light with the Amtrak culture.

While personality test can be a good gauge of a person’s character, it must also complement feedback from reference checks and interviews.

Candidates with high EQ make better employees and better leaders. It is important for recruiters and hiring managers to factor in emotional skills on top of technical skills to further assess if the applicant can be a great hire or not.

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Do you have other tips on how to assess a candidate’s emotional intelligence? Share them in the comments below.

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