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How Virtual Interviews Help Staffing Firms Identify Candidate Emotional Intelligence

How Virtual Interviews Help Staffing Firms Identify Candidate Emotional Intelligence

It doesn’t matter how qualified an individual is, if they don’t know how to be empathetic and interact with others, they can’t be great employees. This is why employers have started looking for candidates with high emotional intelligence. They want candidates who make an effort to understand and accept who their co-workers are.

In fact, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology found that being able to judge emotional intelligence is necessary to determine how well a candidate can do a job.

But there’s more to emotional intelligence than being a friendly, cheerful person. People with high EQs have different approaches to relationships, styles of communication, and ways of processing information. If you, as a staffing professional, don’t know what signs to look for, you can’t get a true understanding of your candidates.

When you use virtual interviews, there are unique ways to identify emotional intelligence. Even though the candidate isn’t sitting in front of you, you can assess their EQ with these tips:

1. Ask them to tell a funny story

One benefit of virtual interviews is that it’s easy to objectively compare candidates. Each applicant answers the same questions, allowing staffing professionals to better assess the answers. But this also means that during this stage of the staffing process, there are no follow-up questions.

Luckily, candidates with high levels of emotional intelligence shine without additional questions. For example, if you ask these individuals to share an amusing story, they will include emotional information about others. There will be an awareness of how people around them reacted or were impacted by what occurred. People with lower EQ will include fewer details about others unless prompted.

Also, pay attention to why the candidate thinks a story is funny. Emotionally intelligent people won’t talk about an event that was humorous at someone else’s expense. They’re more likely to choose a story that is amusing because of the situation or because everyone enjoyed what happened.

2. Look for direct eye contact

Eye contact is a huge indicator of emotional intelligence. For those who are empathetic and aware of other’s feelings, they naturally look people in the eye and use appropriate facial expressions. Yet, over the years, most job seekers have been told to maintain eye contact during an interview. They practice the behavior so they don’t reveal their lower EQ.

In a virtual interview, there is no one in front of the candidate to look at. This can throw some people for a loop. But job seekers with emotional intelligence will instinctually act like the hiring manager is there. They’ll look at the camera, smile, and use professional posture.

A good way to judge the sincerity of a candidate’s eye contact is to pay attention to your own facial expressions. In a face-to-face conversation, we become engaged via the eyes. This leads to us mirroring the expressions of the speaker. So if a candidate has great eye contact in a virtual interview, you will instinctively smile or nod when they do.

3. Have them describe a personal failure

Whenever you ask a candidate about a time they failed, there are two parts to a good answer: what they learned and how they felt in the situation. In a face-to-face or phone interview, candidates have unlimited time to work in both of these factors. They might fumble a bit, but they get there.

But with a virtual interview, candidates only have a set time to respond. They have to quickly put together their thoughts so they often start with what comes to mind first. This means that candidates with high emotional intelligence will begin talking about how they felt during a difficult situation.

Also, pay attention to how self-aware their response is. People with high EQ won’t blame others or their circumstances. They’ll clearly admit their own faults and discuss what they learned by failing.

It’s not always easy to measure emotional intelligence. But when you use virtual interviews, there are unique opportunities to get insights into how candidates perceive and process emotions. This will help you make better decisions about which applicants to pass onto your clients.

Staffing's Ultimate Guide to Video Interviewing


Josh Tolan

Josh Tolan is the Founder and CEO of Spark Hire, a video interviewing platform used by 6,000+ customers in over 100 countries.