Hiring senior management can be a long and tiresome task, and disappointing when your new hire doesn’t make the grade or live up to your expectations, nor does it align with the experience submitted on their CV.

So how do you ensure as part of your recruitment process that you hire for emotional intelligence and personality and that these are assessed and reviewed to make sure you are getting the right candidate for your position?


Great leader is not only about a comprehensive skill set.

Being able to nurture and encourage their employees and colleagues, as well as being able to manage and understand their own and others emotions within different situations and environments are vital attributes.

Emotional intelligence isn’t an area that can be quantified on a CV, as this requires human interaction, being able to gauge body language, and interacting on a human level. Managers may have sufficient technical skills to complete their day-to-day tasks, however they may lack fundamental self-awareness and social skills, making them less adaptable in today’s fast-moving world.

Don’t get us wrong, we’re not tarring every manager with the same brush. However, as employers, we should be thinking beyond the skill set and evaluating whether our next hire will be able to manage their emotional intelligence and engage with their teams by applying these principles, thus enabling them to connect on a human level.

Getting the whole package

So how do you know you are getting the desired outcome with your hire? Well, unfortunately you don’t – but using recruitment techniques beyond keyword search and CV’s will help to recruit beyond simply skillsets.

One of the reasons we see so little emotional intelligence in the workplace is that we don’t generally hire for it. Predominantly we hire based on skill sets, visual progression, the desired keywords on a CV and the size and industry sector candidates have previously worked in.

We look for qualifications and technical skills and seem to forget the importance of whether candidates can successfully build and nurture relationships, and how they communicate on a human level; isn’t this how we build successful relationships with stakeholders and peers?

Emotional intelligence is an area we are genuinely passionate about. The ability to measure this can come naturally, and technology can help, but it’s not straightforward. Assessing emotional intelligence is difficult if you don’t know how, and in most cases, HR departments and recruitment consultants aren’t being trained in this – however, it is possible and it is successful.

Investment in time pay dividends

As an executive search specialist, we dedicate time to understand the client and the candidate, and always interview with emotional intelligence in mind. This is one of our main assessment techniques, alongside fully understanding the client brief and ethos of the company to ensure that we attract the right candidate for you and your organisation. It is a two-way approach and takes time, but ultimately, the time invested up front pays dividends when it comes to retention.

Top tips for measuring emotional intelligence

We do appreciate however, that executive search isn’t always a suitable method of recruiting for some organisations, so here are some of our recommended Do’s and Don’ts to help you on your way;


Use personality tests.

Most of these tests attempt to measure personality. They do not measure specific competencies of emotional intelligence such as self-awareness, positive outlook, aspirations, empathy, or inspirational leadership.

Use 360-degree feedback.

A tool like 360-degree feedback forms are helpful for assessing development areas, but not for evaluating performance and competencies.

Don’t rely solely on technology and analytics.

Instinct and gut feelings are a vital factor when hiring, which unfortunately is something that, at times, is overlooked. You know what works for you, the job, stakeholders, and what is required to be successful.

There have been many research papers to suggest that there is truth behind this. Several management studies have discovered that executives continually rely on their intuition when solving problems when technology can’t help.

Ralph S. Larsen, chair and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, explains the distinction:

“Very often, people will do a brilliant job up through the middle management levels, where it’s very heavily quantitative in terms of the decision-making. But then they reach senior management, where the problems get more complex and ambiguous, and we discover that their judgment or intuition is not what it should be. And when that happens, it’s a problem; it’s a big problem.”


Have a comprehensive specification.

Having a comprehensive specification that isn’t taken from the filing cabinet from the last hire is also just as important. First impressions count! Before creating your specification, we always recommend white-boarding with your team and stakeholders; brainstorming, creating a unique specification which is engaging and moving away from the typical clinical standard approach. Most specifications read like a list of demands; it’s essential to distinguish your company and role from your competitors. Let’s be honest, how many adverts on LinkedIn stand out?

Add some colour and create a visual roadmap to demonstrate career progression to prospective candidates. This will signify your commitment and passion for finding the right person; candidates will acknowledge and appreciate this level of commitment. We need to think beyond the fast-food approach to hiring, presentation and quality is paramount. Would you be happy if dining at a Michelin star restaurant, you were presented with a lukewarm, poorly presented dish, resembling a happy meal?

Take responsibility.

Take responsibility for the hiring process; after all, inevitably it won’t impact internal recruitment or HR if the wrong person joins your procurement function. Ensure the team understands the implications of a bad hire and what additional techniques they should be using to select great talent. Merely using boolean searches to assess the candidates suitability won’t attract the best talent. It’s not rocket science for a potential applicant to put those very same keywords on their CV when applying to your job posting.

We have suggested to many of our clients on cross-pollination, seconding either HR or the recruitment team into your department. They can observe how procurement operates and become an evangelist of procurement, therefore having a more profound understanding of your key deliverables and which skills are essential for your business and future hires.

Aquire references and talk to your candidates.

Letters of recommendation aren’t good enough when it comes to an understanding of your candidate’s emotional intelligence. When interacting with a referee, you can ask specific questions inline with how the candidate demonstrated various emotional intelligence competencies.

Make the first impression count.

On first interviews, please don’t use the telephone, first impressions are so important. We recommend either meet face-to-face or using webcam conferencing; see how they interact, their mannerisms, gauge their body language and how this may change when dealing with specific questions, as well as their personality and sense of humour. This will help when evaluating your shortlist and save time.

Group assessments are excellent when it comes to finding your next leader. You can see how they interact with different personalities and how they engage on an emotional level.

Interview for emotional intelligence.

Ensure your competency framework captures emotional intelligence and the questions when interviewing are channelled towards this. Simply using the standard format or template that you have been using for many years won’t help in the evaluation process.

Timing is Essential

If you take too long and they are your preferred candidate, be proactive – push the offer through with your CFO, and if there are any internal complications try and resolve these and communicate the importance of this hire and the implications to the business if this individual isn’t hired. It’s vital we communicate any complications with the candidate, as timing and transparency is paramount.

Making Offers

Many offers fall by the wayside, simply because we don’t understand the candidates needs. If we communicate effectively, promote curiosity and use our emotional intelligence to connect with them, we will know what’s fundamentally important. The offer stage should be the most natural and fluid part of the recruitment process.

Whichever approach you decide to take to recruit your next hire, remember all of these elements are important and should be part of your recruitment process collectively. If you can identify self-awareness, inspirational leadership, high-quality skill sets and the passion for delivering your companies’ goals in a candidate, then you’re likely to have found your new ‘A’ player.

Sourcing Solved are an executive search procurement specialist based in Hove, UK.

If you would like to discuss your executive search requirements please get in touch, we’d love to hear from you.

T: +44 1273 930 628

E: info@sourcingsolved.com