What Is Emotional Intelligence In Recruitment?

It can be a real challenge to evaluate candidates based solely on their skills and experience. This is why many businesses are beginning to introduce tests and processes to assess candidates’ emotional intelligence, particularly in roles where communication, collaboration and empathy are key to success.

This blog will examine what emotional intelligence is for recruiters and how testing for emotional intelligence can help you recruit more effectively.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions. This impacts on how well you communicate, empathise, lead, negotiate, and build relationships.

Why emotional intelligence is important in modern recruitment

In a 2016 survey by the World Economic forum, emotional intelligence was considered by leading global employers to be one of the most important skills that workers will need in 2020. Alongside creativity, critical thinking and cognitive flexibility, this is a skillset that recruiters must now be attuned to when assessing candidates for your clients.

Recruitment has traditionally focused on assessing qualifications, experience and skills. Although these are, and always will be, critical components for assessing candidates, emotional intelligence can also be a useful barometer for specific roles that require soft skills. By assessing the emotional intelligence of candidates, you will be better equipped to find the right role and company fit that CVs and documents cannot provide alone.

How understanding emotional intelligence can help you identify better candidates

Understanding emotional intelligence can help you identify traits and characteristics that will help you understand how candidates respond to work situations such as:

  • High pressure environments.
  • Working with different team members and groups.
  • Working with different levels of seniority.
  • Customer interfacing, especially in a customer service, complaints or account management.
  • Different working environments e.g working unsupervised or remotely.

These gauges also give a good idea about their attitude, styling of learning and/or coaching/management and whether they share the values of the role or culture fit

Assessing this can potentially also offer insights into the level of commitment the candidate might have to the role i.e. how long they are likely to stay.

7 ways to evaluate emotional intelligence in a candidate

It’s clear that assessing emotional intelligence can provide valuable insights for recruiters. So, how do you identify emotional intelligence in a candidate?

  1. Pay attention to the language that they use when describing emotions. The more specific they are, the more likely they are to exhibit emotionally intelligent behaviours.
  2. Observe their language, both verbal and physical, to see if they are adaptable and open to change.
  3. Notice their levels of self-awareness. Are they honest about their strengths and weaknesses? Did they describe situations where they have been open to self-improvement? Have they shown evidence of incorporating feedback into their work; positive or negative? Alarm bells should be ringing if they revert to cliched language to describe these aspects of themselves.
  4. Note whether they display empathetic behaviours and/or show interest about other employees’ roles and how they will fit into the team.
  5. Pay attention to whether they tend to take offence easily or appear to hold grudges.
  6. Consider asking a question based on how the candidate dealt with a frustrating situation at work and how they chose to deal with it. If they explain the situation clearly and objectively, show self-awareness, were open to taking responsibility for their role in the conflict and demonstrated a keenness to understand others’ reactions you’re on to a winner.
  7. Observe their reactions when asked to explain and re-explain a situation. An emotionally intelligent candidate will remain unflustered and adapt their explanation to one they think will suit your needs.

Incorporating emotional intelligence testing into your candidate selection process can provide genuinely useful information about how a candidate will fit into a particular business, and how likely they will be to succeed in the role, long term.

For a more detailed look at everything you need to know about building an exceptional recruitment team, download the guide today!

How to build an exceptional recruitment team

Remote Working vs Office: Pros and Cons for Recruiters

In 2018, the Financial Times reported 43% of all UK employees have flexible working conditions with 89% of British workers believing that flexible working conditions would boost their productivity; it’s clear there’s an undeniable appetite for remote working and a place for it in the recruitment industry. But is it right for your agency?

If you’re considering whether remote working would be beneficial to your recruitment agency, we’ve investigated the pros and cons to help you decide whether you want to provide flexible working conditions for your recruiters.

What is remote working?

Remote working allows recruiters the freedom to work outside the confinements of the office environment. This could be working from home, a co-working space, on-the-go or at a cafe. Remote working is part of a wider concept called flexible working.

The root of flexible working relies on the trust that your recruiters will agree to work their contracted hours in a way that is most productive for them. This could be a traditional 9am-5pm in the office or, alternatively, working remotely for part, or all, of the working week.

Other examples of flexible working include compressed hours, start and finish times that are school-run-friendly or a ‘flexitime’ model which lets your recruiters choose when their workdays start and finish based on client and candidate requirements.

But working in the office is still the norm for the vast majority of recruitment agencies. So what are the pros and cons of working in an office environment?

Working in the office

According to a Microsoft-sponsored survey, “73% of companies today rely solely on in-house employees” – but this is slowly changing. Marissa Meyer, chief of Yahoo, says, “People are more productive when they’re alone, but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together”, providing food for thought on the debate around working in the office vs. remote working.


  • It’s much easier to continuously develop a positive workplace culture aligned with your mission, vision and values when everyone is working in the same offices.
  • It allows your recruiters to work collaboratively, which can boost overall performance and teamwork.
  • New recruiters can shadow experienced recruiters, improving the onboarding and training process.
  • In the office, it’s often easier to manage your recruiters’ time, keep them motivated and offer support when required.
  • In the office they can learn by listening to their colleagues, observing best practice and improving performance and skills by osmosis.
  • It’s easier to witness and celebrate the achievements of your recruiters. Seeing success in person, rather than over the phone or reading data analytics, is much more powerful.


  • An open office is often a loud and distracting environment which can negatively affect recruiter productivity.
  • The cost of renting office space is one of the largest ongoing costs for any recruitment agency, especially ensuring there is desk space for a growing workforce.
  • There’s a higher likelihood of injury: the Center for Disease Control (CDC) found that office workers are 2 – 2.5 times more likely than non-office workers to suffer injury from a fall.
  • 45% of UK workers spend over an hour a day commuting. As well as the time commitment, there is also a considerable cost whether that is towards petrol or public transport.

Remote working

Powwownow reported that 67% of employees want the flexibility of working at home. So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of remote working for recruitment agencies?


  • Working at home can inspire your recruiters to think more laterally, giving them time to recruit smarter as they’re removed from a distracting office environment.
  • If you want to attract the next generation of recruiters, offering the option of remote working is considered a real perk as part of a benefits package,
  • When geography is not a barrier, you can source your recruiters in different parts of the country, widening the pool to find exceptional recruiters.
  • The ability to reduce your office space by decreasing the number of full time desks required, which will assist in reducing your ongoing rental cost
  • In a study conducted by HR association CIPD, 3 out of 4 workers reported that flexible working has a positive effect on their wellbeing. Therefore, recruiters can feel less stressed when working from home as there’s a much greater opportunity for work-life balance.


  • Recruiter isolation – working alone for lengthy periods can lead to isolation, which can be highly demotivating.
  • Remote working lacks direct personal contact. This may lead remote recruiters to work without the support they need.
  • With no direct supervision, there’s a risk for recruiters to take advantage and slack off.
  • If your recruiters don’t separate their work and home lives, they may end up working all around the clock and suffer considerable burnout.
  • Having the IT infrastructure in place to support recruiter to work remotely.

The key is finding the right balance that makes commercial sense for your agency and allows your recruiters to work as productively as possible and achieve a work life balance. Building a successful culture is just one aspect of creating an exceptional recruitment team.

Download our free guide and learn how to improve your recruitment team today.

How to build an exceptional recruitment team