Hiring For Emotional Intelligence: Take Your Customer-Facing Roles To the Next Level

Hiring For Emotional Intelligence: Take Your Customer-Facing Roles To the Next Level

During our most recent webinar – Facing the Customers, Hiring Candidates with High Emotional Intelligence (EQ)- we discussed identifying the skills job candidates need to succeed in customer-facing roles, whether in sales, retail or customer service positions, or working with internal customers.

No doubt everyone has experienced poor customer service. If you think about those times, they are probably more memorable than the times when you had excellent service. In some cases, the experience was so off-putting it probably changed your mind about the company and possibly kept you from returning.

Bad customer service is a complicated problem, and many factors can influence an organization’s reputation for poor customer service. But almost all of the potential issues that can influence an organization’s customer service problem come down to the common element of the individual employee. The employee is the face of the organization and the center of the customer service interaction.So, by hiring an individual with a natural customer service orientation, you put less stress on the organization to train and monitor these types of employees. Spoiler alert: these naturally customer service-oriented employees usually have high emotional intelligence (EQ).

What is EQ?

Emotional intelligence or EQ is the ability to recognize, understand and manage one’s own emotions as well as the emotions of others to solve problems in a positive way.

Customer-facing employees with high EQ can effectively manage their own emotions, empathize with customers, and adapt to various situations to provide exceptional customer experiences.

If customers have a negative experience with an employee who lacks EQ, they may be less likely to return or recommend your business to others, costing companies $75 billion each year. On the other hand, customers who have positive experiences with high EQ employees are likelier to become loyal customers and recommend your business to others.

Employees with high EQ are poised to handle difficult situations more effectively by de-escalating conflicts, empathizing with frustrated customers, and finding solutions that meet the needs of both the customer and the business.

Common EQ Traits – What should you look for?

At People Strategies, we talk a lot about competencies and understanding what “good” looks like when hiring for specific positions.

In the case of EQ, emotional intelligence is the competency, and these are some of the traits to look for when identifying candidates who have high emotional intelligence:

  • Relationship management, which refers to the degree to which the individual is likely to manage people relationships effectively.
  • Self-awareness or whether the individual is self-confident and feels secure of self so they can remain calm and cool under pressure.
  •  Self-management, whether the individual manages themself properly. Also defined as the degree to which they are likely to be hardworking, reliable, organized, and plan ahead.
  • Social awareness, which is when the individual is caring, empathetic, service-oriented, and vigilant of others’ needs.

 Re-Engineering the Hiring Process: Finding the EQ Traits

Adding two components to your hiring process is crucial to finding the high EQ traits you are looking for in your candidate pool.

The first important addition to your hiring process is pre-hire assessment, and the second is ensuring you and your hiring managers conduct structured interviews.

A pre-hire assessment is the first line of evaluation of a candidate’s skills. A pre-hire assessment is a quick and effective tool for hiring managers to understand the different characteristics of applicants.

Pre-hire assessments include many of the questions you may want to ask as a hiring manager, and some you may not even think to ask but that have been shown to predict performance in similar job roles. So, if you have identified that EQ is important for the jobs you’re hiring for, and if you have an assessment company that has evidence that their assessment measures EQ, that assessment is a great place to start the hiring process for a candidate.

Once you have used the pre-hire assessment to identify candidates who have the traits you want to move forward, now it’s time to use a structured interview process.

During the interview, you can identify EQ and other important competencies by asking situational questions that test their emotional intelligence. For example, you could ask them to describe a time when they had to deal with a difficult customer and how they handled the situation. You could also ask them to describe a time when they had to adapt to a new situation or work with a difficult team member.

How Do You Know the Hiring Process Working?

Simply put, data.

Quality of hire surveys that track employee performance at the 30, 60, and 90-day intervals can confirm the hired employee’s success, such as whether they are still in their position and if the hiring manager would rehire the employee again.

Other ways to track whether the process works are traditional 360-feedback surveys, performance reviews, and customer satisfaction surveys.

In Conclusion

Remember, when it comes to customer service, emotional intelligence can make a huge difference. EQ is a valuable trait to measure for most customer-facing roles, both internal and external. With pre-hire assessments and structured interviews, your hiring team is equipped with great tools to assess this competency. And the best part? As you collect and use the data you collect to determine whether your process is working, these hiring tools can be adapted over time to predict success in your organization.