Entrepreneurs need to constantly and strategically equip themselves with a competitive advantage, and that includes when hiring staff.
Traditional hiring methods encouraged employers to seek the most qualified and intelligent people to fill positions. Organizations assumed that bright, learned people were the key to superior performance. But "book smarts," in the form of high intelligence quotient (IQ) or stellar GPAs, don’t always translate to exemplary job performance. The connection is limited at best.
The difference between us
IQ is best defined as a measurement of cognitive capacity, or a person’s ability to think and reason. Many jobs in today’s workplace require an above-average IQ. But hiring people with high IQs is again not a guarantee that they will perform well in the position.
Instead, hiring trends have been leaning toward seeking candidates with more than just high IQs – they're seeking individuals who are able to address any situation or job task with a heightened sense of understanding and sensitivity.
The ability to look at problems with this awareness is called emotional intelligence quotient (EQ). How you recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and in turn use this awareness to manage your behaviour and relationships is no doubt why we are seeing changes in hiring practices in Canada and globally. Highly sensitive people aren’t more or less emotionally intelligent than others, but they do bring something different to the workplace and the resulting products and services.
IQ: Represents abilities such as visual and spatial processing, knowledge of the world, reasoning, short-term and working memory, and reasoning.
EQ: This is a measure of a person’s level of emotional intelligence. It will measure a person’s ability to perceive, control, evaluate, and express emotions.
A delicate balance
The recruitment industry is well versed in the merits of EQ.
“I find emotional intelligence will usually be a larger deciding factor in the evaluation process,” said Dustin Bakala, Recruitment Consultant for Adecco, a recruitment and HR services company based in Calgary. “People with higher EQ will naturally be strong in an interview – already tipping the scale into their favour, but companies are also very focused on fit. Will this candidate be a good fit for the team, for the organization? Will clients or buyers respond well to this candidate? High EQ tends to lend itself to healthier relationships with others, and many argue that this is not a ‘coachable’ trait. You can teach how to sell, but it’s more challenging to teach empathy, initiative, and self-confidence.”
Throughout his career, Bakala has sourced and represented candidates for permanent employment to third party companies, having conducted thousands of job interviews for hundreds of unique roles in BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. In his experience, each company has a different hiring profile, but most lean toward onboarding well-rounded individuals who have both EQ and IQ traits.
In particular, employees with cognitive intelligence have the ability to problem-solve, organize, plan, comprehend, and analyze, such as software architect/developers, contracts analysists, or engineers. Emotional intelligent staffers shine when it comes to motivating, guiding, coaching, or persuading, such as sales, negotiation, management, and training positions.
Your interview starts before you walk in the door
It is also much more common in today’s market to see some variety of pre-employment personality assessment instead of a competency or intelligence test.
“Depending on the sophistication of the test they can produce reports on different behaviours and strengths of candidates, such as managerial strengths/style, sales techniques, and presentation style,” said Bakala, who added that companies commonly tack on aptitude testing to measure the IQ strengths of a candidate after EQ assessments.
Successful candidates embody qualities of both IQ and EQ
Emotional intelligence will usually be a larger deciding factor in the evaluation process of a candidate because of the nature of person-to-person interviews.
“Someone with high EQ will naturally seem more practiced, more at ease, and more comfortable in an interview situation, thus able to make a better overall impression on the interviewer,” noted Bakala.
The key take-away is to avoid being impatient. Hiring is difficult to do correctly, and critical to any business’ success.
“Have a clear vision for what qualities, experience, and abilities would make a candidate successful in the short, medium, and long term,” advises Bakala. “When in doubt, interview many candidates, and ask co-workers and staff for their thoughts on the position and candidate. Clear and open communication with high potential candidates is needed and appreciated, and makes a positive impression when candidates are considering a job offer.