The IQ vs EQ Debate: Beyond the Resume


Identifying the RIGHT prospective employee is a journey that goes beyond simply finding resumes that boast high GPAs from highly ranked schools or impressive professional credentials.  In fact, I cringe when I think of all the truly qualified people who are overlooked by “black box” online hiring filters just because they are missing a key word in their resume.  Technology is great…until it isn’t.

For me, the credentials are important, but they are secondary to the “person.”

On behalf of my clients I phone screen prospective candidates for IQ (Intelligence Quotient) – hard skills, professional experience, job transitions – basically, reviewing what is in black and white on their resume. I am focusing on topics and skills that are teachable, learnable, measurable, and quantifiable. Yes, I need to know that they have the capacity to do the job, but I don’t overlook someone who has never held the position I’m hiring for. It’s about their overall skillset – I’m looking macro, not micro for most searches.

If the candidate advances to a face to face interview with me, I use the opportunity to determine EQ (Emotional Quotient or Emotional Intelligence) – how will they adjust to my client’s organization, are they adaptable, collaborative, do they display leadership ability, do they have growth potential, are they capable of prioritizing tasks and responsibilities? In other words, are they the right cultural fit?

EQ trumps IQ.  A potential employee may, on paper, have all the skills needed to do the job but if they cannot assimilate into the culture of my client’s organization, they are a hard NO.  It doesn’t make them un-hirable – it just makes them un-suitable for this particular position.

The key is digging deep and asking questions that make the prospective hire THINK.  Here are some of my standard EQ divers and the skill set I’m honing in on: 

Adaptability – “Describe a situation in which you embraced a new system, process, technology, or an idea that was a major departure from the old way of doing things.”

Collaboration – “Give an example of when you had to work with someone who was difficult to get along with. How did you handle interactions with that person?”

Leadership – “Give me an example of a time when you felt you led by example. What did you do and how did others react?”

Growth Potential – “Recall a time when your manager was unavailable when a problem arose. How did you handle the situation? With whom did you consult?”

Prioritization – “Tell me about a time when you had to juggle several projects at the same time. How did you organize your time? What was the result?”

These types of questions generate responses that reveal what people did, thought, and felt about situations and their own actions, providing a much better sense of the candidate’s emotional intelligence. In the end, you can TEACH hard skills if the employee has a high EQ and is open to learning and coaching.