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Emotional Intelligence for Recruitment: To Measure or Not to Measure?

November 6, 2017

Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is a relatively new psychological construct and has gained a lot of attention and some firm supporters and adherents. A Google search on the topic will yield 11 million hits.

The idea that we can measure a person’s ability to perceive, evaluate and modify their emotional understanding of themselves and others is appealing, however, the use of Emotional Intelligence for recruitment purposes is not recommended.  The predictive ability of EQ for job selection has not been demonstrated and the use of EQ profiles is more appropriate for personal and professional development.

Researcher, Dr. Carolyn MacCann, from Sydney University, gave an excellent talk on the ABC’s Big Ideas program.  The program explored Emotional Intelligence and asked: Is it more important than general intelligence, or, IQ?; How do you define it?; What’s it good for?; Does it have any evidentiary base or is it just a fad that got a whole lot of traction in the late 1990’s?

That program was essentially a lecture for psychology students and Dr Carolyn MacCann is well placed to dispel some of the myths around the extravagant claims for EQ.

As to the questions:  Is EQ better than IQ at predicting job performance, or, is EQ more important than IQ for job performance?

The answer for both questions is, no. For jobs in the middle range of cognitive complexity, IQ accounts for around 25% of job performance whereas EQ accounted for about 7%.

This is not to say the Emotional Intelligence is not important, however, it should not be measured as part of your recruitment process.