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Emotional Intelligence in Sales Recruitment

Daniel Goleman developed the principles of emotional intelligence. He believed that IQ and other behavioural tests accurately predict how well a person would perform "on the job". But he also believed that emotions played a far superior role in human interaction than we believe they did.

4 'Intelligences' have been introduced:

  1. Mental Intelligence (IQ) - Our ability to reason and think, use language and comprehend.
  2. Physical Intelligence (PQ) - This is what our bodies do without conscious effort.
  3. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) - Our ability to communicate with others through various means.
  4. Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) - Our drive for meaning and connection with the infinite.

It has been recognised that people behave in different ways when faced with the same situation, and this is due to the individual level of emotional intelligence.

Emotional Intelligence can be defined using the acronym ARROW


    • This is being aware of how your personality affects others. This means we are able to see ourselves as others perceive us and then go on to manage ourselves accordingly. Have you ever wondered why a situation didn't go your way? It could well be because you were not aware of your effect on the other individual. 


    • Identifying negative emotions that can cause damage. "The ability to know when to exercise restraint in a situation". Have you ever been kept awake at night reviewing something you wish you hadn't said? Or even simply been embarrassed remembering a situation where you thought you were justified in your point, but you went too far when thinking about it later?


    • Developing an optimistic, persistent nature. Optimism is seen to be the backbone of resilience. Every day individuals come face to face with rejection, complex negotiations and difficult people, as well as changing circumstances. I am sure there have been times when you have felt like you wanted to give up.

Others (empathy)

    • Developing an emotional radar. Empathy is about walking in the other person's shoes and being empathetic and sympathetic. As a recruiter, you should be able to read between the lines and understand candidate motivation.

Rapport (Working with others)

    • The majority of sales professionals are good at building rapport - that is until we are challenged. What form of communication is more reliable than words? Yes, facial and body. It is understood that individuals who can read non-verbal body language are more popular as an individual in comparison to those who don't. If you are able and good at reading non-verbal signals, you are then able to make anyone feel fantastic in your presence.

Emotional intelligence is a crucial element of recruiting because people like to work with people like themselves as it makes them feel at ease.

If we are able to master the concepts of emotional intelligence, we can improve our lives and become even more successful within our working environment. Seeing that emotions are habits, they can undermine our best efforts if they get out of control. However, by unlearning some and developing other emotions, we are able to have maximum control over our lives. You can then control how you want to feel and how you want others to feel around you.

The principles of emotional intelligence focus on you as an individual regardless of your circumstances, both past and present. By mastering the theories of Awareness, Restraint, Others (empathy), and Working with others (rapport), you can master the dynamic of human interaction. This can help you become more successful personally and professionally.

Principle 1 - Awareness

Being aware is about understanding your strengths and not letting your weaknesses get in the way of your strengths.

Our personalities reflect on others - and it would be highly beneficial if everyone understood their own personality style and how it affects others. Psychometric testing is the best available tool to do this as they help you to understand how you react to certain situations. Well-developed emotional intelligence refers to the understanding you have of other individuals.

Being aware also refers to being attuned to how you communicate with one another and how individuals, in return, respond to your communication.

Emotional systems operate with more speed and certainty than our rational systems. To stay in control, we need to be aware of our body's automatic responses when it senses a threat - we need to take the necessary time to "normalise" before responding to that threat or situation.

It is often recognised that top negotiators have a highly developed awareness. They frequently observe scenarios, watch for signals, and utilise silence to their advantage. You will notice that great negotiators are always aware of what is happening around them and aware of the personality style of the person they may be negotiating with.

Although being aware sounds very simple, you would be surprised how many of us do not use or understand this approach.

Principle 2 - Restraint

Restraint means identifying negative emotions and replacing them with rational responses that will hold back negative emotions. Restraint enables us to practice patience rather than pushing ahead with the risk of damaging a relationship. Restraint is also about being aware of your body's reaction to angry or stressful situations and knowing how to manage the process effectively.

Emotionally intelligent individuals are able to release the demands they make on others that often cause them to feel persistent anger. I would suggest that if you are unsure of how to react, don't react at all. Practising restraint is something that all of us need to be do more (or at least be aware of). Often the nature of recruiting sales candidates means that we are more often than not thrown into unfamiliar territory.

Principle 3 - Resilience

Do you have the ability to "bounce back" after a setback? It can be argued that resilience is the single most crucial factor in a sales-orientated career, especially for recruiting sales candidates. Big billers have the ability to demonstrate lots of resilience, and they are able to successfully separate themselves from the rejection that occurs on a weekly (sometimes even daily) basis.

As emotionally intelligent individuals, we are responsible for keeping our pessimism in check. Think of the effect on those you work with when you make a pessimistic comment in the office about a client or candidate. Emotionally intelligent sales recruiters are always aware of themselves and others. When a problem comes about, they react by fixing the problem, not apportioning blame.

The most effective ways to develop resilience is to:

    • Notice when you're being pessimistic and use positive self-talk to overcome the pessimism.
    • Be aware your attitude affects not only you but also those around you. Try and make an attitude change if required.
    • Understand and accept the law of averages and learn not to take rejection personally.
    • Embrace change.

If you are able to develop resilience, you will be on the path to being an emotionally intelligent and successful person - as well as being great to be around.

Principle 4 - Others

Do you have the skills that enable you to be a better listener and observe others around you in situations? When recruiting sales employees, we often find ourselves doing most of the talking (by doing this, it's extremely challenging to observe the candidate). If you can develop an emotional radar and identify the personality style of the person you are interviewing, you are more able to communicate with the individual in a method they feel most comfortable with.

To develop empathy, you have to be able to better your active listening skills. If you can practice the following skills, you will be able to become an expert at actively listening:

Attentive body language

    • Using appropriate body language can portray focus and involvement. Further, maintain eye contact and provide a non-distracting environment.

Following skills

    • Providing friendly clues, asking questions and using attentive silences can help to invite communication.

Reflecting Skills

    • Paraphrasing can help demonstrate that you understood what you just heard. Empathy is all about putting yourself in other people's shoes. Watching, listening and showing candidates the face they want to see and adjusting communication accordingly demonstrates good use of empathy.

Principle 5 - Rapport (working with others)

When working with others and building rapport, you must focus on communicating, resolving conflicts and learning to relate with others effectively.

Make sure that you can actively listen. Focus on what is being said to you rather than thinking about what you plan to say next. If you think that a candidate specifically doesn't understand what you have said, instead of restating it, ask the individual concerned to put what they think you've said into their own words until you reach an understanding.

To Conclude

Working with others is about creating a win-win for all concerned. It is about understanding how to make your point effectively and recognising how both your verbal and non-verbal communications will affect potential employees.

It's further about using empathy to understand the other person's point of view and restrain in your response if needed. However, most importantly, you need to be aware of those around you and understand how your reactions will affect them.

Make sure that you understand that great sales candidates fully recognise that working with you as a recruiter is critical to a successful recruitment outcome. They are able to use the principles of emotional intelligence to ensure a win-win for all participants involved.

Date published: 5th March 2024

Rob Scott, Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, Author Photo

About the author

Rob Scott

Rob is the Managing Director of Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment, a national recruitment agency specialising in sourcing sales and marketing staff for businesses across a broad range of commercial sectors. Before setting up Aaron Wallis, Rob spent ten years at a specialist Sales and Marketing recruitment division of a £0.5BN recruitment group, leaving in 2007 as Marketing & Sales Director to establish Aaron Wallis.
With over 24 years of experience in sales recruitment, Rob is a History graduate with an MBA (Merit) and a PgCert in Management Practice.  In 2007, 2009 and 2013 Rob conducted the most extensive surveys of sales professionals in the UK and is a trusted authority in the sales industry. From guiding employers through the recruitment process to helping candidates find their dream job, Rob's advice has been quoted in leading publications such as Business Insider and The Independent, as well as OnRec, which host The Online Recruitment Awards every year.

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George is a rare find in the world of recruitment - communicative without being pushy or over-bearing. He listens and understands what the customer needs as gets to know the business to ensure he provides fully competent candidates who fit.

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UK Sales Manager, BTS Holdings Limited 

In an industry where people over promise and under deliver, Rob and his teams have consistently provided a high-quality service. It is great to deal with someone that has an excellent understanding of UK industry, and a passion for sales.

Sales Manager, TR Fasteners

Very professional service and will certainly be in contact for future recruitment.

Director, Blakedown Sport & Play Ltd

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I just wanted to thank you for your help with our recruitment process which went very smoothly and has – we hope – found us just the person for the job!

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HR Manager, The Data Privacy Group Ltd

We were impressed not only by the quality of candidates you found for us but also the level of information, preparation and qualification you put into the process. You continually kept us informed of each person’s feelings about the process, which is very important but often overlooked. I am looking forward to working with your company again in the future.

Commercial Director, Incentive Facilities Management

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Sales Director, Inside Business

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Director, Waste Managed Ltd

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Director, Education Support

Generally good standard of candidates. Especially liked the personality profile. Overall good value for money and will certainly use you again.

Managing Director, Medicash

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HR Manager, Annapurna Recruitment Ltd

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Managing Director, bigHead Bonding Fasteners Ltd

Rob’s knowledge of the recruitment industry and his thoughts and how to make it better for his clients have always been eye opening. I would recommend Rob to anybody who is looking for a professional, knowledgeable and flexible recruitment specialist.

CEO, Friday Ad Online Services

Aaron Wallis has continuously provided us with suitable candidates that have been proactively sourced. Having used countless recruitment companies, Aaron Wallis are the only company that I can count on to deliver.

Managing Director, JARK Healthcare Recruitment

I have used Aaron Wallis to fill a number of our Sales Development Manager roles and I have found them to provide a very professional service. I will use their services again in future recruitment campaigns.

HR Business Partner, Greene King

I have always found Rob to be very knowledgeable about our industry sector, and it is refreshing to see after all of these years that Rob continues to quickly and accurately understand my requirements.

HR and General Manager, THK

Thanks for all your help during the recruitment process. I have been extremely impressed with Aaron Wallis especially when compared to other agencies we have dealt with. I really felt you grasped the type of person we required and found strong candidates.

UK Sales Manager, Nexcom

Giles Phillips is a rare find in the minefield of sales recruitment; an honest and thoughtful recruiter who considers the needs of both the client AND the candidate to create perfect role matches. I look forward to working with him again in the future.

Marketing Director, City of London Police

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Managing Director, Leisuresec plc

Thank you for your dedicated help during the recruitment process - we came to you after unsuccessfully searching elsewhere, and hired, not one, but two! Quick response times, and a really personal approach, without being pushy.

Managing Director, Accora Ltd

Since joining DSGi, Rob has been a supplier of permanent staff and has performed to an extremely high standard, successfully filling 98% of roles he has worked on. If anyone is looking for a good sales and marketing based consultancy with an informal yet professional approach, I would recommend Rob.

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Wanted to say a huge thank you to Simon Bonner who has just helped me secure my new role. He was one of the most professional recruiters I have ever worked with he was supportive really quick at replying and really put me at ease.

J. Marcinkiewicz, Candidate

I have to say coming across and having dealings with Aaron Wallis proved to be very successful. Being highly experienced did not seem to count for much during my job search bit a conversation with Robert Scott gave me a real confidence boost and enabled to get a position at the age of 63. Great service!!!

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S. Powell, Candidate

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C. Hoy, Candidate

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P. Fitzsimons, Candidate

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R. Sealy, Candidate

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D. Bretherton, Candidate

Aaron Wallis (and in particular Rob Scott) have been fantastic throughout the recruitment process, and even a few months down the line, still continues to care. Rob clearly cares about each individual and has a wealth of knowledge and expertise, which shows in the work he does. Each candidate is not just a number, and the support received from Aaron Wallis has helped me get a career which I truly enjoy.

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A. Callaby, Candidate

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A. Bauchet, Candidate

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S. Bartlett, Candidate

I had the absolute pleasure of working with George Humphries on finding a placement best suitable for me.

A. Van Der Mescht, Candidate

Aaron Wallis Sales Recruitment are a very friendly and professional recruitment organisation who listen to your needs, work with you and act on your behalf which sets them apart from many of their competitors who in my experience are willing to throw anything at you. We discussed my history, my preferences and my wishes - one opportunity was introduced. It was perfect. I start at the end of June.

R. Buckley, Candidate

The service provided by Aaron Wallis has been just great. I was constantly informed about what was going on with the process interview and the agent has always been supportive and kind to me.

L. Colagrossi, Candidate

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C. Beaugie, Candidate

Rob was really helpful when I was putting together a presentation for the second stage interview. Overall their communication was great and kept me updated of any progress

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S. Akers, Candidate

Sophie helped me secure a new role I have been searching for. She took her time to explain clear and concisely all I needed to succeed at the interview stage. Thanks again Sophie!

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T. Ashbourne, Candidate

I have to say using Aaron Wallis Recruitment has been nothing but an absolute pleasure. I've used many agencies over the years as the client and the candidate and its not always been a pleasurable experience!

L. Knowles, Candidate

George Humphries was a complete professional at every point, from our first phone conversation to his “good luck tomorrow” text on Sunday before I started in my new role.

E. Fry, Candidate

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M. Wyer, Candidate

The staff at Aaron Wallis were fantastic. Throughout the process, they maintained excellent communication and I always knew where I stood.

M. Owusu, Candidate

I had a very good experience with Aaron Wallis. The company itself is offering great content for all things related to the hiring process. I definitely recommend.

J. Ostermeier, Candidate

Excellent experience. Knowledgeable staff and really went the extra mile. Found my ideal position and I couldn't be happier. Special shout out to Sam and George: who made the process smooth and easy for me. Highly recommend.

K. Pearce, Candidate

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C. Rockliffe, Candidate

George above and beyond to make sure I had everything I need to secure my new role. Outstanding Professional.

A. Kirkland, Candidate

The most professional recruitment agency I've ever worked with. Robert Scott was extremely proactive and send me a detailed briefing before each interview, ensuring I was well prepared.

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