Emotional intelligence: a new criterion for hiring?

The individual’s emotional intelligence has to be factored in, that is, his or her capacity to understand, regulate, recognize and manage emotions in the specific context of the work environment.


The significance of emotional intelligence is broadly recognized today, regardless of whether it’s tied in with perceiving and understanding feelings, directing one’s very own emotions or dealing with those of others.

In any case, up to now, there has never been a test for estimating these aptitudes in the particular set of work and the models that oversee it, that was completely founded on logical discoveries and observationally approved.

Researchers at the Universities of Geneva (UNIGE) and Berne (UNIBE), Switzerland, have devised an emotional intelligence test that measures emotional competencies at work. Known as the Geneva Emotional Competence Test (GECO), it is now available for research purposes and commercial use – and you can read all about the results in the Journal of Applied Psychology.

Marcello Mortillaro, a researcher in UNIGE’s Swiss Center for Affective Sciences (SCAS) said, “In fact, someone may behave in a totally different way with their family or at work. They might be authoritarian in one environment and submissive in another. That’s why we were so keen to develop an emotional intelligence test focusing exclusively on situations specific to the professional environment. The aim was to assess a person’s level in this area and provide both individuals and organizations with a scientifically based description that could help in personal development, in hiring the right candidate for the job, and in giving the right job to the person.”

The test involves 4 tests for evaluating the different parts of emotional intelligence, namely: understanding emotions, recognizing emotions, regulating one’s own emotions and managing other people’s emotions.

Katja Schlegel, a researcher at UNIBE’s Institute of Psychology said, “We concentrated on problematic situations that involve negative emotions: fear, sadness, anger, and inappropriate happiness or Schadenfreude.”

Mortillaro said, “The GECO results were controlled and validated by additional tests, and they are very convincing. The more emotional intelligence skills you have and the better those skills are, the better your work outcomes are, above and beyond your cognitive intelligence or personality.”

“We found that a superior ability to regulate one’s own emotions is linked to earning a slightly higher salary. In fact, emotional intelligence goes hand-in-hand with a higher degree of empathy, openness to others, respect for moral rules and, in overall terms, a positive temperament.”

“We tested GECO on people aged 20 to 60, and the results show that emotional intelligence increases with age and experience, meaning it’s a faculty that can be improved and developed. Women on the whole obtain superior results than men, notably when asked to interpret nonverbal emotional expressions. Emotional intelligence is also linked to a person’s well-being and satisfaction with his or her lifestyle.”

Schlegel said, “We also noted that managers who perform well on GECO have better results in standardized leadership tasks and students with higher GECO scores get better grades. This finding explains why GECO is now being marketed by a Bern-based company and is being used for recruitment and career guidance assessments. The test currently exists in French, English, and German with an Italian version being developed.”

Mortillaro said, “We now want to analyze the data to see whether there are differences across different language regions. We’re continuing to develop GECO so that it can support the role of emotional intelligence in recruitment and scientifically validate the predictive aspect of a person’s abilities in their professional careers.”

Amid the first subtest, which focuses on understanding feelings, members are given 20 passionate situations and are requested to look over 15 conceivable alternatives which feeling was most likely experienced in every situation. The second test, intended to evaluate the acknowledgment of feelings, comprises of 42 recordings of a man communicating a specific feeling. Afresh, members needed to choose the correct feeling from 14 proposals.

The third test was outfitted towards the capacity to manage feelings: 28 situations depicted a specific circumstance, with members picking how they would carry on. There were four conceivable answers yet subjects were just permitted to pick two, the goal is to diminish the negative feeling as opposed to look after it. Finally, the fourth test evaluated the management of other people’s emotions.

Mortillaro noted, “This was the most important and meaningful test, especially in a professional context. In each of the 20 scenarios, a person expressed fear, sadness, anger or inappropriate happiness. Participants had to choose from five possible courses of action the one they thought most effective to manage the emotional state of the other person: cooperation, compromise, acceptance, avoidance or assertiveness. In this instance, context is everything. You might think that cooperation is always the right solution but that’s by no means the case.”

The results are published in the Journal of Applied Psychology.


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