The #1 Trait You Need to Land Your Dream Job (and it’s not a high IQ)

by Kaitlan Whitteberry on July 22, 2016

The term emotional intelligence, or EQ, was coined by researchers in the early 1990s, after a string of studies led to the idea that people skills and the ability to control emotions could prove to be as useful as IQ. Increasing numbers of business leaders and hiring teams have started considering this trait when considering new team members. Some studies even suggest strong emotional intelligence is more important in potential hires than IQ and experience. Finding people who not only can complete the job but who fit into a company’s culture is a tall order, and by considering EQ with other qualities employers are discovering their new hires are better equipped to perform well and stay at their company longer. 

What is Emotional Intelligence?

The official definition is, “the capacity of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different feelings and label them appropriately, and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior”. The emotional intelligence theory was founded on practice and understanding of communication and how individuals interact with one another. According to the Center for Creative Leadership, the three most reported reasons for failure at work are difficulty handling change, poor interpersonal relationships and inability to work effectively in a team setting. 

Being emotionally intelligent means people can see things beyond their initial perspective, and understand varying situations and how emotions impact their actions and the actions of others. 

How This Applies at Work

Unless you found work under a rock, you’re going to encounter people and develop important relationships at some point in your career, probably on a daily basis. Whether it’s interacting with your colleagues, your boss or clients, how you approach people and how your behavior impacts their relationship with you is critical.

“According to emotional intelligence, or EQ, success is strongly influenced by personal qualities such as perseverance, self-control and skill in getting along with others.”

Having a strong sense of your emotional well being will only help you relate to others and communicate in an effective way depending on the situation and who you’re dealing with at the time. When looking for promising candidates, employers not only look for qualified skills in terms of knowledge about the job itself, but how these new employees will relate to the existing ones on their team. 

What to Look for in New Hires

When expanding your team, you want to select individuals who not only have the expertise and proper education to complete their job, but you want them to fit into your company’s environment. One of the best ways to test this theory is to expand on their EQ during the interview. Many reports conclude that emotional intelligence can’t be taught, it is an innate skill people wither have or they don’t. A few characteristics of someone with a strong EQ is being “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.

Daniel Goleman presented five categories of emotional intelligence in his books. He suggests to hire candidates that are more likely to succeed in your workplace, to look for these five characteristics. You may also use this list to evaluate your own qualities if you’re the one in the job market: 

  • Self-awareness

When you hire a person who is highly self-aware, you’ll gain an individual that understands and accepts their own strengths and weaknesses. They also understand how their personality affects other people around them. This type of person tends to also have a high level of personal motivation, next on the list.  iStock_93716699_LARGE.jpg

  • Motivation

A motivated person isn’t going to need to be micro-managed at work. They’re going to get assignments done on time, and on their own. They’ll rarely need reminders for when things are due, and won’t need to be threatened to get things done. They are also usually not driven by monetary incentives or titles, but by their own internal need to succeed. 

  • Empathy

This can be one of the more difficult traits to find in a new hire. An empathetic person has compassion and a deeper knowledge of human emotions than average that allows they to connect with almost anyone. This type of person works well in teams and is great to have on your sales or communications department. 

  • Self-regulation

The ability to keep emotions and reactions to situations in check is extremely important in the office. People who have this trait can calm themselves down when upset by something, and are usually more flexible than others when it comes to changes in their environment. 

  • People Skills

You should always be looking for candidates who can hold a conversation but that don’t monopolize one, who are engaging and enjoy communicating and express themselves well. Not to say you only need outgoing people, but being able to relate to others is a definite skill those working in an office need. It’s good to have a balance of introverted and extroverted individuals who can round out your workplace as a whole. People skills are essential for almost every side of business, and this skill will help them interact with fellow colleagues as well. 

Focusing on emotional intelligence just as diligently as looking at their skill-set is going to not only help you create a more well-rounded team, but a an environment where people enjoy spending time and want to stay. Employees will be more engaged and happier as a result, and we can bet you will be too. 


Kaitlan Whitteberry

Kaitlan Whitteberry is a Magna Cum Laude graduate from the University of Missouri's journalism program, and currently focuses on iOFFICE press releases, software updates and related news.

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