Management Articles


How to Choose the Right Job Candidate

By: Susan Dunn

Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, coaches individuals and executives in emotional intelligence, and offers workshops, presentations, trainings, Internet courses and ebooks.  She is a regular presenter for the Royal Caribbean and Costa cruiselines.  Visit her on the web at and for FREE ezine.

You’re having trouble with an employee. After trying different things, you realize you hired the wrong person in the first place. Has this happened to you? If so, here are tips on how to hire the right person in the first place:
  1. Write a Job Description.

    Consider paying a writer to interview the person currently in the job and to write the description. Make a check list of necessary credentials, training, skills and academic degrees.

  2. Consider the Personality Needed.

    Think through both the requirements of the job itself, and the people with whom they’ll be working and write it out.

    For instance, I worked with a company with 3 partners hiring their first support person. They knew what skills they needed, but overlooked the fact that the most important trait in a support person is their willingness to help. They needed someone who could get along in this small office of four. Answering to three bosses requires patience and resilience. They need to be centered enough to demand the bosses prioritize tasks, and flexible enough to switch tasks continually.

  3. Interview for the Personality.

    Irritability and complacence, dominance and curiosity show in facial gestures, in tone of voice, in speed of speech and movements. Work with a coach to learn more about reading nonverbal communication.

    Assess also with the StrengthsFinder® profile (see below). Someone with Command for a strength doesn’t like to be given orders and is not a good choice for a support position, unless you like to ride a bucking bronco.

  4. Introvert or an Extravert?

    Extraverts derive energy from other people, while people drain the introvert. What does the job require? Keep in mind, though, that it has a lot to do with being in control of the flow of the people. Introverts, surprisingly, can make some of the best salespeople.

  5. What are They Innately Good at?

    Innate strengths are things we’re naturally good at that don’t drain our energy.

    The StrengthsFinder® profile, from Gallup, is a dynamite profile in the hands of an expert interpreter. It will tell you the person’s top 5 innate talents using terms such as Focus, Deliberativeness, Relator, WOO (winning others over), Maximizer, Futuristic, Harmony, and Positivity.

    Example: A CEO I worked with needed an employee to do due diligence. Deliberativeness is exactly the quality for this. People with this strength do “due diligence” as naturally as you draw a breath. They are innately cautious, don’t jump to conclusions, and anticipate loopholes and problems.

  6. Examine Their ‘Soft’ Skills.

    How does this person get along with people? How well do they manage their own emotions? How to they handle themselves under pressure?

    Look for these things in the interview. Ask questions and set up behavioral situations that test this. Intentionally interrupt the candidate, or arrange a disruption and observe what happens.

    Ask yourself “Do I like this candidate?” and “Would I want to work with her?” Use your intuition, your gut feeling … an EQ competency.

  7. Give Them an EQ Assessment.

    Emotional Intelligence (EQ) means how they handle themselves and other people in social and emotional areas. The best qualified person on paper may be a failure in real time because they can’t get along, are abrasive, scattered, emotionally out-of-control, or lacking in empathy, flexibility, or common sense.

    The higher up the person goes, the more important such EQ competencies as Conflict Resolution, Integrated Self, Intentionality and Resilience.

    EQ assessments give you valuable information about a candidate. Studies have shown that people with low EQ burn out quickly.

  8. Look at Specific EQ Competencies.

    An EQ assessment will give you an overall score, and also ranking on the separate competencies.

    It’s been found, for instance, that the best predictor for good salespeople is Optimism, and EQ competency.

    The US Air Force found their most successful recruiters scored high in Assertiveness, Empathy, Happiness and Emotional Self Awareness. They put this knowledge to use to increase their success rate by 300% and save $3 million annually.

  9. Are They Resilient?

    An article in the Wall Street Journal names Resilience (an EQ competency) the most important factor in stress management. It amounts to being change-proficient.

  10. What Have They Learned?

    Lifetime learning correlates with resilience (Siebert, Ph.D.). The ability, willingness, cognitive ability and flexibility to keep on learning is one of the most important things to look for in the Information Age. “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write,” said Alvin Toffler, “but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”
In sum, hiring in today’s workplace requires more than a look at credentials, experience, training and academic degrees, and the onus is on you, the hirer. People don’t always know themselves, and they can’t know everything about your company culture. They apply for jobs for the money or with lack of self-knowledge, not because they’d be good at it, or enjoy it, or be able to tolerate its stress, or work in the particular culture of your office, i.e., they apply for jobs for which they aren’t well suited.

Work Emotional Intelligence into the hiring process, and pay attention to innate talents and personality. Work with an EQ coach for best results. It will pay great dividends in the end.

© copyright, Susan Dunn, 2004

Other Articles by Susan Dunn

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. ManagerWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. ManagerWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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