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Thursday, 19 June 2014

The Rise of Emotional Intelligence Testing


How do you perceive emotion? How well are you able to use your emotions to communicate? Do you understand your emotions, and ultimately are you able to manage your feelings and the feelings of others?

Pretty deep questions, and probably not ones you consider frequently, however these are the basic four branches of emotional intelligence testing, a measure that is gaining popularity in the hiring process.  So popular in fact, some have wondered aloud (The Wharton School) if resumes are “passé.” As a recruiting firm, resumes are a major part of our daily operations, and integral to our search process -but we also conduct interviews.

Wharton cites the Society for Human Resource Management that “nearly 20% of organizations use personality or emotional intelligence tests in hiring or employee promotion.” Why? Behavioral fit. Companies are attempting to measure your ability to “fit in” with the culture of the organization. You may have the experience, skills, and education for the job, but your emotional intelligence may signify that your habits and personality fundamentally differ from those of the company. Or you’re not ready for that promotion….

This might be sounding a little negative. Remember it can go the other way too. What may look like an odd fit on paper could stand out as a perfect match after emotional intelligence testing. You may not have the exact qualifications, but an ability to adapt and grow might shine through in your emotional intelligence analysis.

I remember taking an emotional intelligence test for a retail position. It felt heavy handed for the relative responsibility and skill set required for the job. It was also very long, repetitive, and ultimately meaningless for me as a candidate. It was an interesting experience in retrospect however. I can see how they were trying to nail down how I would react to certain situations, people, and stressors.  However, I don’t believe it was a valuable analysis of my fitness for the job. I have been on many interviews, and the most common technique I have experienced has been behavioral based interviews: “describe instances in the past where you…” Travis Bradberry, a consultant and expert in emotional intelligence, argues that “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” This is the key difference, how I have actually behaved in the past versus how I might behave in the future. Emotional testing is hypothetical and allows a candidate to pick what they think is the best answer. Behavioral interviews, especially when the candidate is asked to describe in high detail past events, potentially lends itself to greater honesty.

So how do you approach this double edged sword? Be yourself. It might sound cliché, but ultimately fit is important and benefits both parties.  

Resumes are here to stay a little longer.

1 comment:

  1. Great take on a topic gaining momentum. I myself remember having to take an emotional intelligence test at the beginning of my career, and I too found it to hold little value to what I could actually add to the position. Throughout the process I also saw several (in my opinion) excellent candidates eliminated from the hiring process because of this test, with others pushed through to the interview round simply because they were able to predict the "most correct" response.

    All in all, I can accept emotional testing as a component of the interview process, but certainly not as a final deciding factor for candidates and do not foresee resumes becoming "a thing of the past" any time soon.

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