Why I Look For Candidates With High Emotional Quotient

When I have to choose, I will almost always go with the candidate with a high Emotional Quotient (EQ) over ones with high IQ. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always on the lookout for smart people. It’s just that my experience has taught me to value other attributes more.

Here are five of the attributes I value most in candidates with high Emotional Quotient (EQ):


The common saying “it’s not personal, it’s just business” is pure crap. Everything out there is personal to someone. Being able to put ourself in someone else’s shoes is an important attribute. It not only helps us to land a job or advance in our careers, but it can also help to deliver the best results more of the time.

Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant? – Henry David Thoreau

Empathy gives us perspective – and often compassion. These qualities are critical in solving problems in the job, dealing with clients and partners, managing diverse groups of talented people, and in leading companies forward.

Social Skills

Social skills refer to the set of skills people use when when interacting and communicating with one another. Working well with others and leading a team to success requires good social skills. Being able to recognize non-verbal cues, demonstrate real interest in others, interact well with others, and define good personal boundaries are all qualities in high EQ people.

Self Regulation

Self regulation, the ability to act in our long-term best interest, consistent with our deepest values, is usually a good high EQ indicator. In practice, it looks like being able to calm down when someone makes us angry, or being able to cheer up when we are down. Our brain is constantly sensing, and how well we respond to our feelings and surroundings is important. Healthy self regulators can usually identify the emotion they (or someone else) are feeling. High EQ people are usually able to carry intimate conversations, tolerate awkwardness, deal with pressure, and show some degree of patience.


Motivation – and our approach to motivation – is important as well. Each of us has our motivations, but they come to us in different ways. Some people want to attack and others want to avoid, and both can be great motivators. But the kind of motivation I look for is rooted in wanting to learn more, discover more, experience more, and become more. Having healthy motivators is often an indicator of a healthy person with a high EQ.


Self Awareness

Being self aware is critical in business success. Self aware people know what motivates them. They are usually pretty good at making decisions and know their strengths and weaknesses. Being self aware requires a centeredness and honest self-appraisal – even humility.

How do we know when we have a high EQ candidate in front us?

  • They can discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
  • They show an interest in new experiences or ideas.
  • They are continually learning and have a growth mind-set.
  • They focus on the positive, and are rarely negative or bitter.
  • They are able to set healthy boundaries.
  • They are forward thinking and able to let go of the past.

Image Credit: Daniel via Flickr

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