How does a Pre-Hire Assessment Based on Emotional Intelligence Benefit Your Organization?

What is the best way to attract, screen, and hire talented employees in today’s tight labor market? This is a question I’m asked more and more each day. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach to ensure you hire top talent, there are tools you can use to increase your chances of success.


While I’ve always been a big proponent of pre-hire assessments in general for identifying and hiring top talent, not all pre-hire assessments are created equal. Personality, behavioral, and cognitive pre-hire assessments are all helpful tools and provide predictive data points for interviewing and hiring.


However, research tells us that 80 percent of the competencies that lead to success in the workplace are emotional intelligence-based. Additionally, employee engagement surveys tell us that employees are more motivated by employers that provide emotional intelligence training and development opportunities. Since this information points to the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace, what should you look for when assessing emotional intelligence in pre-hire candidates? And how does your organization benefit from hiring employees with high emotional intelligence competencies?

Key Emotional Intelligence Competencies to Measure in Candidates


Empathy: The ability to understand the emotional makeup and feelings of other people and skill in treating them according to their emotional reactions. Hallmarks include expertise in building and retaining talent; cross-cultural sensitivity; and high standards of service to patients, clients, or customers.


Self-Awareness: Recognizing one’s own emotions and their effect on performance, awareness of personal strengths and limitations, and the desire to receive feedback about how to improve. Hallmarks include self-confidence; realistic self-assessment; and a self-deprecating sense of humor.


Self-Management/Regulation: Controlling or redirecting one’s own emotions and anticipating consequences before acting on impulse. Hallmarks include trustworthiness and integrity; comfort with ambiguity; and openness to change.


Social Awareness: Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks, and an ability to find common ground and build rapport. Hallmarks of social awareness include effectiveness in leading change; persuasiveness; and expertise building and leading teams.


Benefits of Emotional Intelligence-Based Pre-Hire Assessments


Pre-hire assessments in general provide the following benefits:

  • Standardizing the hiring process

  • Removing subjective interviewer bias

  • Reducing unwanted turnover

  • Reducing risk of employment practices-related claims

  • Improving employee productivity

  • Improving overall quality of hire

  • Expediting hiring processes

Implementing a pre-hire assessment methodology based on emotional intelligence competencies can provide rewards that go far beyond the benefits of standard personality, behavioral, and cognitive models. These additional benefits are:

  • Helps Improve Communication and Teamwork: Employees with higher emotional intelligence communicate better with team members because they have more accurate self-awareness and social-awareness. They share ideas and are open to ideas from others. These employees are more likely to trust their coworkers and value their ideas and input. They are respectful and thoughtful as the group works together.

  • Enhances Diversity Training: In a Dutch study, teams consisting of diverse types of people who were willing to learn performed better than homogenous teams. This finding supports the notion that when people have high emotional intelligence and are willing to learn, diversity becomes a limitless resource.

  • Supports Succession Planning & Transition: Succession planning and intergenerational succession or transition represent a significant challenge to companies and to family businesses. Although this is a common problem, misalignment between generations needs to be addressed for businesses to thrive into the future. Emotional intelligence is a key to bridging the gap.

As you can see, by adopting an emotional intelligence pre-hire assessment methodology, your organization can have a significant competitive advantage in the war for talent. Additionally, if you want to positively influence your company culture, it makes sense to measure emotional intelligence up front and then see that through with training and development to develop those same competencies.