More important than ever for IT professionals to develop EQ

Singaporean CIOs believe it’s important for their IT staff to have high emotional intelligence.

One in four CIOs say not enough emphasis put on EQ during hiring process: Survey

  • 100% of Singaporean CIOs think it’s important for IT employees to have high emotional intelligence. 
  • 25% say too little emphasis is put on emotional intelligence by employers during the hiring process.
  • The greatest advantages of employing professionals with high emotional intelligence: Improved leadership (59%), better project management (55%), better collaboration (48%) and increased motivation/morale (40%). 

New independent research commissioned by specialised recruiter Robert Half reveals 100% of the surveyed Singaporean CIOs believe it’s important for their IT staff to have high emotional intelligence (EQ) – a measure of a person’s ability to recognise and react to other people’s emotions and their own. According to Harvard Business Review, emotional intelligence within the technology sector is now thought to be even more important due to the rise of machine learning and the need to develop new soft skills in order to differentiate AI from humans [1]. 

However, results from the survey show that while almost two in three (63%) believe sufficient attention is given to sourcing candidates with the right level of EQ, one in four (25%) CIOs believe the level of emphasis put on EQ during the hiring process is “too little” – highlighting the need for Singaporean companies to optimise their recruitment processes in order to source IT job candidates with the right balance of soft and technical skills. Just over one in 10 (12%) believe there’s “too much” emphasis put on EQ. 

According to the research, the greatest benefits of having employees with high emotional intelligence are improved leadership (59%), better project management (55%), better collaboration (48%) and increased motivation/morale (40%).

Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard, Managing Director of Robert Half Singapore said: “As the technology sector and machine learning continue to accelerate and impact the workplace, it’s now more important than ever for IT professionals to demonstrate high emotional intelligence.”

“New technologies and digitisation have drastically changed the workplace and the way IT professionals work together. IT employees who demonstrate high levels of emotional intelligence are able to effectively communicate with their co-workers, and are generally better at managing stress and making difficult decisions under pressure. This not only cultivates a more cohesive and innovative workplace, it also generates confidence throughout the IT department, which can make the difference between success or failure in times of crisis and uncertainty for any business.”  

“When hiring IT staff, identifying their level of emotional intelligence, through traits such as self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills, can be more challenging for a hiring manager than identifying their technical skills. Companies therefore need a streamlined hiring process where sufficient attention is given to assessing the candidate’s EQ. Organisations can effectively do so by asking behavioural interview questions to gauge how candidates handle difficult situations, and asking references how well an applicant handles criticism, resolves conflicts, listens to others, and motivates team members,” concluded Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard. 

The types of EQ interview questions hiring managers ask (and interviewees should be prepared to answer) in a job interview:

  1. If you’ve previously reported to multiple managers at the same time, how did you get to know each person’s preferences and juggle conflicting priorities? 
  2. Tell me about a challenging workplace situation you were involved in, either with your peers or someone else in the company. How did you manage that challenge, and were you able to resolve it? 
  3. What would a previous boss say is the area that you need to work on most? Have you taken steps to improve in this area, and if so, what have you tried to change? 
  4. Tell me about a day when everything went wrong and how did you handle it? And in hindsight, how would you have handled it differently? 
  5. If business priorities change, describe how you would help your team understand and carry out the shifted goals. 



About the research
The annual study is developed by Robert Half and conducted in July 2017 by an independent research firm, surveying 75 Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in Singapore. This survey is part of the international workplace survey, a questionnaire about job trends, talent management and trends in the workplace.


Katherine Mills
Public Relations Manager, Asia Pacific
P: +61 2 8028 7757
E: [email protected]