One of the key components of emotional intelligence (EQ), self-awareness is the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and accurately recognize how we are perceived by others. When it comes to building relationships with others and responding to stressful situations, employees with high self-awareness are much more effective and adaptable.
Employees with low self-awareness may be talented and highly skilled, but their inability to recognize how their attitudes and actions impact others can seriously undermine collaboration and prevent them from developing the resilience needed to bounce back from difficulties. A person with high self-awareness, on the other hand, is not only more likely to see how their emotions are impacting their actions and influencing others, but they’re also more likely to correct those problems when they occur. This leads to less interpersonal conflict, better communication and collaboration, and improved critical thinking.
For all the emphasis on finding the right set of skills for a position, today’s hiring managers recognize that finding a candidate with high self-awareness is almost as important. Although these hires tend to have increased motivation and morale, 30 percent of HR managers don’t think employers put enough emphasis on emotional intelligence characteristics during the hiring process.
A good hiring process, then, should place emphasize assessing the extent of a candidate’s self-awareness. Do they understand what emotions influence their decisions? Do they recognize how other team members perceive them? Do they hold themselves accountable for their actions or do they divert blame when things don’t go as planned?
Getting the answers to these questions can be difficult, but there are a number of strategies hiring managers can use.
Some of the most revealing information about a candidate can come to light by simply asking questions that require them to perform a bit of self-evaluation. These questions could range from specific issues, such as how they handled obstacles in their last job, or more general, such as what makes them frustrated. The answers they give, as well as the words they choose to express them, can offer a number of clues about their level of self-awareness. For instance, if a candidate uses a question about dealing with failure or other challenges as an opportunity to speak poorly of a former co-worker who “caused the problem” rather than reflect upon their own possible role in the situation, there’s a good chance they lack the awareness to take accountability for mistakes.
Asking empathy interview questions about how they interact with other employees, both fellow team members and leaders, will give a sense of how they view those relationships. Signs of indifference or an inability to express how others might feel about them could be signs of an inability to form the healthy relationships necessary for a high-trust environment. Asking them to shift their perspective can be useful as well, forcing them to consider what other people might say about them and where they think they’ve been misunderstood in the past.
Questions pertaining to work-related issues don’t always provide a full picture of who someone is as a person. Shifting an interview’s focus to areas outside their work history can offer a glimpse into other aspects of a candidate’s personality and interpersonal relationships. Some “outside the box” questions might include things they regret, what they’re reading at the moment, or where they’ve gone for their last few vacations.
Following up with a candidate’s professional references after an interview can provide much-needed context to some of their answers. Rather than focusing on the conventional questions about a person’s skills or work history, questions that address more general issues like how well they handle conflict, accept criticism, deal with setbacks, or listen to others can either support their answers or offer a different perspective.
Identifying candidates with high self-awareness is essential for building a succession pipeline filled with high-potential agile leaders. Self-aware leaders are much more effective at building strong relationships, managing adversity, and resolving conflict. By emphasizing self-awareness throughout the hiring process, organizations can maximize the effectiveness of their development programs by ensuring that potential candidates have the necessary emotional intelligence to benefit from them.