Why Emotional Intelligence is Essential to Your Firm’s Hiring Process

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Deanna Arteaga
Columnist
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By now, hiring managers at even the most traditional accounting firms know that if they hope to find the perfect candidate, they need to look for more than solid technical skills and a pedigreed education. They need to find a recruit who possesses exceptional soft skills as well.

But if you’re truly hoping to hire a candidate who will move your firm forward – someone who fits your culture, grows your business, and is primed to take on future leadership roles – there is one soft skill in particular that you need to move to the top of your must-have list: emotional intelligence (EI).

According to OfficeTeam, a division of staffing firm Robert Half, a growing number of companies are factoring EI into their hiring decisions, and they’re doing it for the very same reason they focus on developing EI in their current workers.

Employees with a high emotional quotient (EQ) can more efficiently deal with workplace changes, challenging situations, and difficult colleagues – and they make great leaders, said Brandi Britton, district president of OfficeTeam.

“Considering emotional intelligence in the recruitment process will pay off in the long run for accounting firms,” Britton said. “Someone’s emotional intelligence ties into their fit with the corporate culture, which is of utmost significance, and EI is also essential when considering future leadership roles.”

So essential that a recent survey from OfficeTeam found that nearly all human resources (HR) managers (95 percent) and workers (99 percent) said it’s important for employees to have a high EQ. Forty-three percent of HR managers identified increased motivation and morale as the greatest benefit of having emotionally intelligent staff, but three in 10 HR managers believe most employers put too little emphasis on EI during the hiring process.

In its research guide, Emotional Intelligence at Work: What It Is and Why You Should Care, OfficeTeam suggests hiring managers at all professional firms should make “EI a consideration when evaluating job candidates.”

“We believe if you want to find the best fit for your firm, it is advisable to ask behavioral interview questions to gauge how someone manages situations, and ask references how well an applicant handles criticism, resolves conflicts, listens to others, and motivates team members,” Britton said.

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