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IQ vs. EQ: Which Is More Important in Hiring?

By Deena Ullom October 24, 2016 by Kelly Kuhlman

by Deena Giordano Ullom

According to Drs. Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, “[e]motional intelligence [EQ] is your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.” The term appeared on the scene in the mid-1990s and seemed to finally explain why people with average IQs outperformed people with high IQs 70 percent of the time.

According to the New York Times No. 1 Best Seller, “Emotional Intelligence 2.0,” written by Drs. Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, EQ is made up of four core skills divided into two categories: personal competence: self-awareness and self-management; and social competence: social awareness and relationship management.

  • Personal competence is made up of your self-awareness and self-management skills, which focus more on you individually than on your interactions with other people. Personal competence is your ability to stay aware of your emotions and manage your behavior and tendencies.
  • Self-awareness is your ability to accurately perceive your emotions and stay aware of them as they happen.
  • Self-management is your ability to use awareness of your emotions to stay flexible and positively direct your behavior.
  • Social competence is made up of your social awareness and relationship management skills; social competence is your ability to understand other people’s moods, behavior and motives in order to improve the quality of your relationships.
  • Social awareness is your ability to accurately pick up on emotions in other people and understand what is really going on.
  • Relationship management is your ability to use awareness of your emotions and the others’ emotions to manage interactions successfully.

IQ vs. EQ in the Workplace

So, which is more important in hiring? In my younger years, I was always so impressed with an applicant’s pedigree: “Oh wow, they went to Princeton — they’re so smart!” And they were. However, I’ve been on the “people ops” side of business for more than a decade, and what I’ve come to learn is that I’ll take someone with a high EQ over IQ any day of the week.

 

interview

IQ is what we’re born with, our natural intelligence. However, we’ve all met brilliant people with no common sense and/or inept in relationships, right? EQ is our ability to navigate this complicated world successfully. In the workplace, that means navigating politics, culture, relationships, ethnic biases, team dynamics, etc. It also means being willing to look at our flaws, admit them and take steps to improve upon them. It means being OK with being held accountable — admitting mistakes.

I love and heavily utilize the book, “The EQ Interview: Finding Employees with High Emotional Intelligence,” written by Adele B. Lynn, in my job interviews. The book breaks down the different categories of EQ, and has multiple questions to gauge each one. One question I always ask is, “what are you currently working on, what’s your next cutting edge?” We are a fast-paced, entrepreneurial organization. I want to hire people who are personally striving for more growth, more life satisfaction, people who are enthusiastic about breaking out of their comfort zone and breaking through their own ceiling.

If you’re still not sure which side you’re on, according to Talent Smart, the leading organization in this area, EQ is responsible for 58 percent of your job performance; 90 percent of top job performers have a high EQ; and people with high EQ make $29,000 more annually than their low EQ counterparts.

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