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In hiring and promoting, emotional intelligence trumps IQ

With smaller staffs, higher stress levels and uncertainties around the economy, are employers changing what they look for in prospective employees? While 34 percent of hiring managers said they are placing greater emphasis on emotional intelligence when hiring and promoting employees post-recession, according to a new CareerBuilder survey, 71 percent said they value emotional intelligence in an employee more than IQ.

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a general assessment of a person's ability to control emotions, to sense, understand and react to others' emotions and to manage relationships. The national survey — conducted from May 19 to June 8 with more than 2,600 hiring managers and human resource professionals — revealed that EI is a critical characteristic for landing a job and advancing one's career.

In fact, 59 percent of employers would not hire someone who has a high IQ but low EI. For workers being considered for a promotion, the high EI candidate will beat out the high IQ candidate in most cases — 75 percent said they're more likely to promote the high EI worker.

"The competitive job market allows employers to look more closely at the intangible qualities that pay dividends down the road — like skilled communicators and perceptive team players," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder.

"Technical competency and intelligence are important assets for every worker, but when it's down to you and another candidate for a promotion or new job, dynamic interpersonal skills will set you apart. In a recovering economy, employers want people who can effectively make decisions in stressful situations and can empathize with the needs of their colleagues and clients to deliver the best results."

Justifying the preference

When asked why emotional intelligence is more important than high IQ, employers said (in order of importance):

• Employees with high EI are more likely to stay calm under pressure

• Employees know how to resolve conflict effectively

• Employees are empathetic to their team members and react accordingly

• Employees lead by example

• Employees tend to make more thoughtful business decisions

What the boss will judge

HR managers and hiring managers assess their candidates' and employees' EI by observing a variety of behaviors and qualities. The top responses from the survey were:

• They admit and learn from their mistakes

• They can keep emotions in check and have thoughtful discussions on tough issues

• They listen as much as or more than they talk

• They take criticism well

• They show grace under pressure

In hiring and promoting, emotional intelligence trumps IQ 09/15/11 [Last modified: Thursday, September 15, 2011 3:34pm]

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