The Healthcare Recruiter’s Guide to Emotional Intelligence

emotional intelligence

There are certain skills you need to be a successful healthcare recruitment professional. You must be organized, with keen attention to detail. You need to be able to multitask and manage your time effectively. And you also must be reliable and adaptable.

But the best healthcare recruiters have another important interpersonal skill that sets them apart and helps them build trust with candidates, navigate complex emotional dynamics, collaborate with stakeholders, and continuously improve in their role. In this article, we examine why emotional intelligence is a vital factor for effective recruitment, especially in the healthcare industry, which has high levels of burnout and turnover.

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, often referred to as emotional quotient (EQ), is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage both our own emotions and those of others effectively.

People with high emotional intelligence are innately aware of the impact their own emotions and other’s emotions have on thoughts and behaviors. They’re also adept at building and maintaining relationships, communicating clearly, and resolving conflicts.

Emotional intelligence includes qualities like self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, and social skills—skills that are crucial for building strong connections, making sound decisions, and fostering positive interactions in both personal and professional settings.

Why Is Emotional Intelligence So Important in Healthcare Recruitment?

While emotional intelligence is valuable in any type of interaction, it’s an essential skill for healthcare recruiters.

Why? When you’re recruiting talent for healthcare positions, finding candidates with the necessary technical skills and training isn’t enough. You also need to assess potential candidates’ suitability for roles that require high levels of emotional resilience and sensitivity. That’s why healthcare recruiting and emotional intelligence go hand in hand.

Traits like empathy, compassion, and effective communication are essential in challenging, high-stress medical roles—but recruiters who lack emotional intelligence can struggle with identifying whether or not candidates have these qualities.

“Having a high EQ won’t just help you suss out if candidates have the so-called ‘soft skills’ they need to be a valuable addition to your team,” explains Anthony Gentile, Managing Partner at Adfire Health. “If you have a high level of emotional intelligence, you’ll be able to better understand the needs and motivations of both candidates and hiring managers so you can make better-informed hiring decisions and build teams for the long run.”

How to Use Emotional Intelligence to Be a Better Healthcare Recruitment Professional

As a healthcare recruiter, you’re continuously interacting with new people as you try to find the perfect fit for your open positions. “You can leverage your emotional intelligence to better navigate the process, forge closer relationships with candidates, and ultimately be more successful at your job,” Gentile says. We’ve identified eight ways to use emotional intelligence in healthcare recruitment.

#1: Become More Self-Aware

People with well-developed emotional intelligence are highly aware of their strengths and weaknesses. How can this help you in recruiting healthcare talent? As you’re sorting through piles of resumes and CVs, being aware of your own internal biases can help you make more objective, unbiased decisions.

In addition, as a recruiter you are representing your healthcare employer brand, so heightened self-awareness makes you more cognizant of the impact your actions and manner may have on the hiring process.

#2: Practice Empathy

Empathy—the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings and perspectives—is crucial to building trust with candidates who want to talk to someone who hears and understands what they’re seeking from their next career move. Being empathetic also helps you get a read on a candidate’s values and work style so you can better assess if they’ll be a good fit in your healthcare organization.

#3: Pay Close Attention to Candidates’ Body Language

A well-honed EQ can help you tune in to non-verbal cues, like body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions, that give insight into the candidate and their interest in the position. Watch for open and confident body language during interviews: leaning in when they speak, nodding their head, and maintaining eye contact.

#4: Engage in Active Listening & Show Genuine Interest in Candidates

Just as you can learn a lot about a candidate by getting a read on their body language, recruiters with high EQ know that how they present themselves can affect the outcome of an interview. Give the candidate your full attention and avoid interrupting them when they’re speaking. Show them you’re interested in what they have to say by nodding, smiling, and asking questions that convey you’re invested in their experience and what they have to say.

#5: Learn From Mistakes & Hold Yourself Accountable

Recruiters play a pivotal role in sourcing talent and building a successful healthcare team—but sometimes being successful means being open to learning from your mistakes and making improvements in your process. Emotional intelligence can help you reflect on past decisions objectively and honestly without becoming defensive, and it enables you to take ownership of past errors and seek out ways to correct them.

#6: Ask for Constructive Criticism

Remember how we said self-awareness was a vital trait for healthcare recruiters? Creating a culture of feedback and constructive criticism gives you consistent insight into your performance, which is essential for nurturing emotional intelligence and identifying areas of improvement so you can succeed at attracting and hiring the best clinical talent.

#7: Foster Resilience

Recruiters are tasked with identifying and hiring candidates who not only possess the necessary skills for the job but will fit in well with their hospital or healthcare center’s culture. Self-awareness, empathy, and solid communication skills can help you build a resilient team that’s able to navigate a high-pressure environment, deal with challenging patient cases, and cope with the emotionally draining toll of work in a healthcare organization.

Moreover, fostering resiliency can lead to increased job satisfaction, lower turnover rates, and ultimately, better patient care outcomes.

#8: Set Healthy Emotional Boundaries

Emotional intelligence can help you recognize the importance of respecting candidates’ comfort levels and boundaries during the interview process. If a candidate signals discomfort or is reluctant to discuss a particular aspect of their career history, swiftly pivot the conversation to a more agreeable topic to ensure that the candidate feels heard and valued.

By demonstrating sensitivity and adaptability, you’re not only respecting the candidate’s dignity, you’re nurturing trust and rapport, which leads to a more meaningful and productive recruitment process and workplace culture.

The Power of Emotional Intelligence in Healthcare Recruitment

Emotional intelligence is often overlooked, but it’s a valuable tool in your healthcare recruitment toolbox. Contact us to learn how we can help you recruit more effectively and attract, engage, and hire high-quality healthcare talent.

How can we help you recruit?


How can we help your marketing?