The Role of Emotional Intelligence in IT Recruitment and Beyond

In this article, we will explore why EI is important for IT recruitment and beyond, and how you can improve your EI skills.
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Emotional intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand and manage your own emotions, as well as those of others. It is a crucial skill for any IT professional, whether you are a developer, a tester, a manager, or a recruiter. In this article, we will explore why EI is important for IT recruitment and beyond, and how you can improve your EI skills.

You might think that EI is a soft skill that has nothing to do with IT. After all, IT professionals are supposed to be logical, analytical, and rational, right? Well, not exactly. EI is not about being emotional, but about being emotionally intelligent. It is not about suppressing or ignoring your emotions, but about recognizing and regulating them. It is not about being nice or agreeable, but about being respectful and assertive.

EI is composed of four main components, according to the model proposed by Daniel Goleman:

– Self-awareness – the ability to identify and understand your own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, values, and motives.
– Self-management – the ability to control and express your emotions appropriately, and to adapt to changing situations and challenges.
– Social awareness – the ability to empathize and understand the emotions, needs, and perspectives of others, and to appreciate the diversity and complexity of human relationships.
– Relationship management – the ability to communicate effectively, build rapport, influence, and collaborate with others, and to resolve conflicts and foster positive outcomes.

These four components can be further divided into 12 competencies, such as emotional self-control, adaptability, empathy, teamwork, and leadership. Each competency can be measured and developed through various methods and tools, such as self-assessment, feedback, coaching, training, and practice.

1. What is Emotional Intelligence and How We Use It in Our Everyday Life?

EI is not a fixed trait that you are born with or without. It is a dynamic skill that can be learned and improved throughout your life. It is also not a rare or exotic quality that only a few people possess. It is a common and essential skill that we all use in our everyday life, whether we are aware of it or not.

Think about how you interact with your family, friends, colleagues, and strangers on a daily basis. How do you cope with stress, frustration, anger, or sadness? How do you celebrate joy, happiness, or success? How do you handle criticism, feedback, or praise? How do you deal with ambiguity, uncertainty, or change? How do you make decisions, solve problems, or create something new? How do you motivate yourself and others? How do you inspire trust, respect, and loyalty?

All these situations and actions require EI since it is the skill that helps you navigate the complex and dynamic world of human emotions, as well as to achieve your personal and professional goals. EI also helps you to enhance your well-being, health, and happiness, as it is linked to lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, and higher levels of self-esteem, optimism, and satisfaction.

2. Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

EI is not only relevant for your personal life, but also for your work life. In fact, EI is one of the most sought-after and valued skills in the modern workplace, especially in the IT sector. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 71% of employers said they value EI over IQ, and 75% said they are more likely to promote an employee with high EI than one with high IQ. Moreover, a study by TalentSmart found that EI accounts for 58% of performance in all types of jobs, and that people with high EI earn an average of $29,000 more per year than those with low EI.

Why is EI so important for IT professionals? Here are some of the reasons:

– IT is a fast-paced, dynamic, and competitive field that requires constant learning, innovation, and adaptation. EI helps you to cope with stress, pressure, and challenges, and to embrace change and uncertainty.
– IT is a collaborative, interdisciplinary, and multicultural field that involves working with diverse people, teams, and organizations. EI helps you to communicate, cooperate, and coordinate effectively, and to leverage the strengths and skills of others.
– IT is a creative, problem-solving, and customer-oriented field that requires delivering high-quality products and services that meet the needs and expectations of various stakeholders. EI helps you to be more creative, innovative, and adaptable, and to solve problems more efficiently and effectively.
– IT is a strategic, influential, and leadership-oriented field that requires demonstrating professionalism, initiative, and vision. EI helps you to impress your managers and clients, and to advance your career and reputation.

3. Why Should Recruiters Have High Emotional Intelligence?

As an IT recruiter, you are in a unique and influential position to shape the future of the IT sector. You are responsible for finding, attracting, and hiring the best talent for your organization, and for ensuring a positive and satisfying candidate experience. You are also responsible for representing your organization’s brand, culture, and values, and for building long-term relationships with potential and existing employees.

To succeed in your role, you need to have high EI. Here are some of the benefits of having high EI as an IT recruiter: 

Having a high EI as an IT recruiter can benefit you in understanding the needs, expectations, and motivations of your candidates, and tailor your communication and approach accordingly. You can also empathize with their emotions, such as excitement, anxiety, or disappointment, and provide them with support and feedback.

High EI additionally enables you to assess the EI level and competencies of your candidates and evaluate their fit for the role and the organization. It is especially important when it comes to identifying and avoiding potential biases, such as the halo effect, the similarity effect, or the confirmation bias, that might affect your judgment.

One important role high EI plays is the one in creation of positive and engaging candidate experience, which can result in making your candidates feel valued, respected, and appreciated. It is also an important skill when handling difficult situations, such as rejecting a candidate, delivering bad news, or dealing with complaints, and makes it possible for an employee to conduct in a professional and compassionate manner. All in all, EI is the one skill that can help you build trust, rapport, and loyalty with your candidates, and make them more likely to accept your offer, refer others, and stay with your organization. 

4. Hiring for Emotional Intelligence

Hiring for EI is not only beneficial for recruiters, but also for the organization and the IT sector as a whole. Hiring for EI means selecting candidates who have the potential to perform well, work well, and grow well in their roles and teams. Hiring for EI also means creating a diverse, inclusive, and productive workforce that can drive innovation, excellence, and success.

How can you hire for EI? Here are some of the steps and tips you can follow:

– Define the EI competencies and behaviors that are relevant and desirable for the role and the organization. You can use frameworks, such as the Goleman model or the Mayer-Salovey model, or create your own based on your specific needs and context.
– Design and implement a structured and objective hiring process that measures and evaluates the EI level and competencies of your candidates through reviewing resumes, interviews, tests, assessments, simulations, or references, in order to collect and analyze data and evidence about your candidates’ EI.
– Train and educate yourself and your hiring team on how to assess and interpret EI, and how to avoid common pitfalls and errors, such as relying on intuition, stereotypes, or first impressions. You can also seek feedback, guidance, and support from experts, such as coaches, consultants, or psychologists, to improve your EI hiring skills and practices.
– Monitor and review your hiring outcomes and results, and measure the impact and effectiveness of your EI hiring process. For this you can use metrics, such as quality of hire, retention rate, performance rating, or employee satisfaction, to evaluate and improve the process.

5. Overcoming the Challenges in Assessing Emotional Intelligence during recruitment process

Hiring for EI is not an easy or straightforward task. It involves many challenges and difficulties that you need to overcome and address. During the recruitment process, some of the recruiters and hiring managers are not aware of the importance and benefits of EI, nor do they understand what EI is and how to measure it.  This situation can easily be prevented by providing some form of education and informing the recruiters and hiring managers about the topic. 

Even if the recruiters and hiring managers are informed and educated about the EI, it could still be difficult to measure it during the selection process or even in the performance reviews. There is no one-size-fits-all or universally accepted definition or measure of EI. Different models, methods, and tools have different strengths and limitations, and may not be suitable or reliable for every role, organization, or situation. Due to that, it is important to  define and customize EI criteria, as well as the hiring process according to specific needs and context of the role and the company you are looking to hire for. Even then, EI assessment is prone to errors, biases, and inconsistencies, that might affect the accuracy and fairness of hiring decisions. Using multiple sources and methods to collect and analyze the EI data and evidence collected by implementing objective hiring process, should help overcome the challenge of EI assessment which, at the end, EI is a subjective and complex process that involves human judgment and interpretation. 

Focusing on AI and objectively assessing it during the recruitment process is a time-consuming and resource-intensive action that requires a lot of preparation, execution, and evaluation. It also may not be feasible or practical for every role, organization, or situation, especially when there are a large number of candidates or a tight deadline. In this situation, one of the skills that all the recruiters developed (willingly or not) comes to the rescue – prioritize and optimize your hiring process. Every role that you are hiring for has its own context so using the most efficient and effective methods and tools to assess EI overall help in finding that right fit for the role. 

6. Emotional Intelligence Beyond Recruitment – EI in Other Aspects of Work

Hiring for EI is not the end of the story. EI is a skill that needs to be maintained and enhanced throughout the employee lifecycle, from onboarding to development to retention. It is invaluable across various work facets such as performance management, teamwork and collaboration, as well as innovation and creativity of the employees.

When we talk about performance management, EI helps employees to set and achieve their goals, to receive and give feedback, and to improve their skills and competencies. It is also important for managers since it helps in monitoring and providing evaluations of their employees’ performance. 

For managers, having a high EI skill helps in building and leading high-performing and cohesive teams. Focus on EI when hiring new team members can result in effective and harmonious work with their colleagues, peers, and partners, and eventually contribute to the success of their teams and projects.

With that, EI also helps employees be more open-minded, curious, and adaptable, as well as generate and implement new ideas that solve problems and create opportunities. Of course, that kind of approach to problem solving is difficult if the managers are lacking EI skills since the manager who shows high EI skill is the one who creates an environment that fosters learning and experimentation as well as encourages and supports their employees’ creativity and innovation.

7. Case Study of a Company that has Successfully Implemented Emotional Intelligence in Their Workplace

One of the companies that has successfully implemented EI in their workplace is Google, the global leader in the IT sector. Google is known for its innovative and cutting-edge products and services, as well as its unique and attractive work culture. Google has made EI a core part of its hiring, development, and management practices, and has reaped the benefits of having a highly talented, diverse, and engaged workforce.

Google uses various methods and tools to assess and develop the EI of its employees, such as:

Project Oxygen – a research project that identified the eight key behaviors of effective managers at Google, such as being a good coach, empowering the team, expressing interest and concern, and communicating well. Google uses these behaviors as the basis for its manager feedback survey, as well as its manager training and coaching programs.

Project Aristotle – a research project that identified the five key factors of successful teams at Google, such as psychological safety, dependability, structure and clarity, meaning, and impact. Google uses these factors as the basis for its team effectiveness survey, as well as its team building and collaboration programs.

gPause – a program that promotes mindfulness and well-being among Google employees, by offering various resources and activities, such as meditation, yoga, massage, and workshops. Google also has dedicated spaces and facilities for employees to relax, recharge, and have fun, such as nap pods, massage chairs, and game rooms.

Google’s investment in EI has paid off, as it has achieved remarkable results, such as:

– High performance and productivity – Google consistently ranks among the top companies in terms of revenue, growth, and innovation
– High employee satisfaction and retention – as a company they consistently rank among the top companies in terms of employee satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.
– High customer satisfaction and loyalty – they are consistently ranking among the top companies in terms of customer satisfaction and trust.

EI is not a fad or a trend, but a necessity and a reality in the modern workplace. EI is not only relevant and important for the present, but also for the future. As the IT sector and the world become more complex, dynamic, and diverse, EI will become more essential and valuable for IT professionals and organizations.

When it comes to the future trends of EI in the workplace, its’ importance is present in areas such as AI and automation, remote or hybrid work, as well diversity and inclusion.

As artificial intelligence (AI) and automation become more advanced and prevalent, they will replace or augment many tasks and roles that require low or medium levels of EI, such as data entry, analysis, or processing. However, they will not replace or augment tasks and roles that require high levels of EI, such as communication, collaboration, or creativity. Therefore, EI will become a key differentiator and competitive advantage for IT professionals and organizations, as they will need to leverage their human skills and abilities to complement and enhance the capabilities of AI and automation.

In the case of remote and hybrid work, ever since it gained its’ popularity, it posed some new challenges and opportunities. On one hand, they will offer more flexibility, autonomy, and diversity, and reduce costs, time, and environmental impact. On the other hand, they will require more trust, accountability, and communication, as well as increase isolation, distraction, and conflict. In this situation, EI will become a key enabler and facilitator for IT professionals and organizations, as they will need to adapt and adjust to the new ways of working, and to maintain and strengthen their relationships and collaboration with their colleagues, managers, and customers.

The importance of EI is also visible when discussing diversity and inclusion. Diversity and inclusion become more important and expected, they will bring more benefits and challenges for IT professionals and organizations. They will enhance creativity, innovation, and performance, and attract and retain more talent and customers. On the contrary, they will also require more awareness, respect, and empathy, and increase complexity, misunderstanding, and bias. Accordingly, EI will become a key driver and supporter for IT professionals and organizations, as they will need to embrace and celebrate the diversity and inclusion of their employees and customers, and to create and foster a culture of belonging and equity.

In conclusion, the role of emotional intelligence in IT recruitment extends beyond the initial hiring process, influencing team dynamics, workplace culture, and overall organizational success. Recruiters armed with high emotional intelligence contribute to positive candidate experiences, fostering a collaborative and adaptable work environment.

As workplaces evolve, nurturing emotional intelligence will likely become a key focus for organizations aiming to thrive in the dynamic landscape of the future. The journey towards a more emotionally intelligent workforce is not just a trend but a strategic imperative for success in the rapidly changing world of technology and business.

We hope that this article has inspired and informed you about EI, and that you will use and develop your EI skills and competencies in your IT recruitment and beyond.

Thank you for reading!

Sources of Information:

– Goleman, D. (1998). *Working with emotional intelligence*. New York: Bantam Books.
– Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2008). *Emotional intelligence: New ability or eclectic traits?*. American Psychologist, 63(6), 503-517.
– CareerBuilder. (2011). *Emotional intelligence (EQ) test*. Retrieved from
– TalentSmart. (n.d.). *The business case for emotional intelligence*. Retrieved from
– Google. (n.d.). *re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness*. Retrieved from
– Google. (n.d.). *re:Work – Guide: Manager feedback survey*. Retrieved from
– Google. (n.d.). *gPause*. Retrieved from
– American Customer Satisfaction Index. (2020). *ACSI releases industry results for internet social media