The Case For Hiring For Emotional Intelligence

Why this so-called “soft skill” is much more than a buzzword.

The Case For Hiring For Emotional Intelligence
[Photo: Flickr user Martin Cathrae]

Many think it’s just a buzz word, but hiring someone with a high degree of emotional intelligence will help companies grow faster than organizations without this type of employee.


Emotional intelligence (EQ) can’t be taught. It is an innate skill and candidates who have it are very observant and descriptive. Someone with EQ will not only give an answer, but they will explain how and why it impacted them and the team, how it made them feel, and how it helped the company grow.

Here are four reasons companies need an emotionally intelligent workforce:

1. They are great leaders.

Employees with emotional intelligence have personal investment in their success and will attract others who want to mimic that. They excel in human interaction, adapting how they work with various personalities and individuals, and they have humility, all characteristics of a great leader. Emotionally intelligent people are self-aware and understand what triggers them. They are great listeners, clear communicators, efficient problem-solvers, and are collaborative. They want to involve others and hear feedback.

2. They are diffusers.

Whether it’s externally with clients, or internally with staff, emotionally intelligent people are able to empathize with people whatever the situation may be. Whether it’s an irate client or an employee who is underperforming or acting up, people with emotional intelligence have the ability to listen to the problem, empathize with who is experiencing it, and come up with the right solution fast. They are rational people who are great at diffusing problems.

3. They are curious.

People with high levels of EQ are constantly curious about people–they want to learn more about them and this is key for business, especially client-interfacing employees. To have a curious employees means that they will invest more time in getting to know both internal staff and clients because they want to . . . not because they have to.

4. They foster repeat clients.

Getting a first-time customer is great, but in order to retain them it takes the right kind of staff. Emotionally intelligent people are considerate, have empathy, want to go above and beyond to cater to a client’s needs, and most importantly, they want to build meaningful relationships. They are invested in getting to know clients personally and building those relationships. They are excited to help, and since clients connect with people, not with a product, hiring those that have emotional intelligence will help turn first-time customers into repeat clients.


Adam Ochstein is founder and CEO of StratEx, a Chicago-based firm that provides online human resources services and software.