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Emotional Intelligence: How to Find It in Prospective Associates

By Gabriella Khorasanee, JD on April 28, 2014 11:04 AM

With the next crop of law school graduates soon out of school, hiring season is upon us. If you're thinking about adding to your firm's roster, before you just look at law schools and grades, consider the big picture.

Apparently, the new trend in hiring is look for employees with emotional intelligence (if Google's doing it, it must be cool). Emotional intelligence? Yes, basically, it's a person's "self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill," says Fast Company. According to some, "When someone has these qualities, they have the ability to work well with others and are effective in leading change."

And, isn't that what we all want in new hires? Here's how to find it.

1. Ask the Right Questions

An emotionally intelligent person can handle stress without losing it, and is a problem solver by nature. Also, people who are just "book smart" tend to blame others for failure, while emotionally intelligent people learn from their mistakes. During the interview, you may want to present hypothetical situations to gauge the prospective new hires' response. You may want to ask about a time the person has failed, and what they learned from it.

2. Read the Person, Not Just the Resume

For anyone who has spent 70 hours/week in an office, you know that the most important thing about a new hire is personality. That is, when you've worked a 12-hour day will you want to kill the person? Yes, grades, activities and experience are important -- but so is likability. Try to read the prospective new hire's personality too.

3. Check References

You should always check the references of a prospective new hire, but you may want to rethink what you ask. Just as you want to ask the applicant about past failures, and problem solving, so too, you should ask the references how the applicant has dealt with those things in the past.

While there's no magic formula for finding emotionally intelligent new hires, they are out there. You may just need to adjust how you evaluate prospective employees. Especially in a small firm setting, it's important that personalities mesh and everyone works together -- in an emotionally intelligent way.

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