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The best is sometimes not the brightest

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Saturday, March 01, 2008


Academic accolades are an attractive quality in any employee, but there’s another, equally important kind of intelligence you won’t find mentioned on most resumes.

“Smart is a good start, but IQ by itself doesn’t have the impact it can have if you’re personally intelligent,” says Kenton R. Hill, a work performance coach and founder of Portland-based KRH Consulting. His new book, Smart Isn’t Enough, explores that concept of personal intelligence — defined as the capacity to recognize, understand, value and apply emotions effectively — and provides advice on how to develop it.

For employers, though, the key is to hire people who already display the traits of personal intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, social awareness, relationship building and interpersonal influence.

“The best measure I know is to have structured interviews with questions designed to elicit that information,” Hill says.

An effective tool for assessing personal intelligence during the hiring process is the behavioral interview, he says. A professional familiar with the concept can be brought in to do the job, but if you’re handling the task in-house, focus on questions like, “Tell me about a conflict and how you handled it.”

“As you develop your interview technique,” Hill says, “practice the questions on people [within your organization] who you’d like to get more of.”

Try to identify trends in their responses, and look for similar answers from job candidates. No two answers will likely be the same, but similarities should emerge.

When someone is lacking in personal intelligence, they might show it in a variety of ways. Directing inappropriate aggression or humor at colleagues or failing to find motivation in a job can both be signs. A person who finds they are passed over for a promotion for which, on paper, they are well qualified might also lack competency. But while it’s not an innate quality for many people, personal intelligence can be developed over time.

“It is possible to learn,” Hill says. “It isn’t easy to learn, but it is possible.”


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