The ONE character trait you need in every employee

Interview

There are many important attributes a business owner may look out for in a potential candidate when recruiting. But from our 15-year experience of recruiting teams we believe there is one essential characteristic that will define your organisation’s future success- find people who genuinely care about other people.

Empathetic people have the capacity to both understand, and relate to, the thoughts, feelings or experiences of others. They tend to like, help, value and enjoy working with people, making it not only universally applicable but also the single most impactful character traits that can affect productive workplace relationships.

Most problems that arise within a company can be attributed to the inability to get along with others. Employees who genuinely care about their colleagues tend to eliminate many frustrating or even potentially poisonous workplace attitudes. 

Empathetic people do not often engage in negative conversation, whining, complaining or petty gossip. This results in less drama and a more productive focus. They genuinely want to hear what others have to say and are emotionally committed to resolving problems as they are identified to them. This aids more efficient dialog and avoids unproductive principled debate or irrational emotional reactions.

What interview questions should I ask to spot an empathetic employee?

As part of a competency-based Q&A structured interview script, we recommend the following questions;

Can you describe an occasion where you needed to deliver difficult news? How did you handle it?

Empathy is defined as the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Therefore how well a candidate can deliver a sensitive message or bad news to a recipient, whilst ensuring the minimum detrimental impact, clearly demonstrates their ability to understand how a situation will be received from another’s perspective and adapt it accordingly. 

Tell me about a conflict at work that made you feel angry. How did you deal with your frustration?

It is human nature to get frustrated sometimes, but it is ultimately how an employee handles such feelings that can give you meaningful insight into their ability to deal with strong emotions generally. You should ascertain their capacity to understand the importance of taking responsibility, of differing perspectives and the importance of preserving relationships.

What do you do when someone comes to you with a problem?

This enables you to evaluate a candidate’s capacity to listen to a problem and use their reasoning ability, judgment, and problem-solving skills to mitigate the issue.  A candidate who cannot answer quickly and confidently, lacks objectivity or refers to an allocation of blame, should raise concerns. A truly empathetic candidate will listen to the problem, ask questions, and make an interpersonal recommendation on how to address issue.

We have never met a candidate who can bluff their way through these behavioral questions.

If you are a business owner and like the idea of an emotionally-intelligent driven work culture in your company then give us a call, we’d love to help. 

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