Which Emotional Intelligence Assessment Tool Should we Use?

By Harvey Deutschendorf

While there are numerous tests of emotional intelligence tests out there, the ones that have had extensive research behind them, is relatively limited.  The consortium for emotional intelligence has come up with a list of assessment tools that have met their criteria of research and study. Evaluating these tools is not an easy task as the technical criteria to establish credibility are complex, difficult to understand and confusing for most people who do not work in the test development area.  As someone who is familiar with emotional intelligence, I will give you my take on what I would look for in an assessment tool and attempt to speak to the measures in lay person terms that are easy to understand. 

For a Brief Explanation 

360—The process of using a measurement to gather feedback not only from the individual but from those that work with her/him.  What this typically means is that the tool would be completed by the person themselves as well as those that work with the individual, giving their feedback as how they see the person.  For example, the tool would be given to the person’s manager, colleagues and those reporting to them. The purpose is to look at how they view themselves as well as how they are perceived by others. Conducting a 360 assessment is expensive and time consuming and is usually only done at the management, executive level.  The tool normally used is an individual tool like the EQi-2.0 or Genos that is used for evaluating the individual by others but there are also tools that are specifically created for group use only. 

Bar0n Emotional Quotient Inventory 

Reuven BarOn was one of the pioneers in developing emotional intelligence measures and came up with one of the first scientifically valid test of EI which was approved by the American Psychological Association. The basis of the BarOn has been adapted and the basis used in developing the EQi-2.O which is currently used.  It is still one of the most widely used measures today and is available for individual use as well as 360. It is the one I am most familiar with, am certified to administer and formed the basis for writing my book.  It is one of the most comprehensive tools and breaks down EI into a number of categories and sub categories helping us to get a good look at the areas we are strong in and the areas we can do some work on (growth areas). The test results speak directly to us and give us suggestions on what we can do to improve the potential growth areas. Visually, it provides graphs and strong visuals that visual learners appreciate.  Because it is self-scoring, the best use of the tool is to provide valuable feedback and information to the person who is taking it. If used for the purposes of making hiring or promotion decisions, there is a danger that the person taking the assessment will not answer honestly but try and determine what the person who will be seeing it wants to hear. This is a Level B tool—Must be administered by a certified practitioner 

Emotional & Social Competence Inventory 

This one is strictly a Multi-Rater which is used by organizations to help managers and people at higher levels to gain awareness to be able to increase trust, develop better working relationships with those around them and as a result increase performance and productivity. It is developed by the Hay Group and Richard Boyatzis has an extensive background in the area of emotional intelligence with Western Case University.  Not having personal familiarity with the tool, I can only comment on the foundation of the work behind which appears quite solid. There is a version of the tool (U), which has been developed for use with University Students. 

Genos Emotional Intelligence Inventory 

A self-assessment multi-rater tool that was developed by professors at Swinburne University in Australia.  There are 70 items and the tool takes about 15 minutes to complete. The visuals in the feedback report are very helpful and give good quality feedback. It is designed specifically for the workplace and use by HR Professionals and researchers. It is designed to be administered only by someone that is certified. As in any self-assessment tool, it works best when used strictly for providing information to the participant and not as a basis for determining whether someone is hired or promoted. 

Group Emotional Intelligence Competency 

Developed as a group level tool, this was designed to help groups relate to each other more effectively and build their capacity.  It has been widely used and measures 57 items which are part of 9 major areas of emotional intelligence.  The value of this instrument is in it’s ability to provide valuable information for organizations that depend upon a great deal of group work. 

Mayer-Salovey-Caruso EI Test (MSCEIT) 

Two of three developers of this test are University professors, Mayer and Salovey, who originally coined the term emotional intelligence in 1990. The MSCEIT is the only EI test that is ability based.  It is an individual tool and takes 30 to 45 minutes to complete.  Since it is designed to test how someone actually uses EI competencies, it can be a more accurate assessment than a self-scoring test which is someone’s prediction of how well they would use EI.

Work Group Emotional Intelligence Profile 

A self-report that is relatively simple and straight forward compared to other group reports. It has only two major subheadings  1. Ability to deal with own emotions and  2. Ability to deal with other’s emotions.  A team score can be calculated by adding up all the individual scores divided by the number of group members.  Can be used to gain a good snapshot of where a team is at and used for discussions as to how to move forward. 

Schutte Self Report EI Test 

The test was developed by Dr. Nicola Shutte who has extensive writing and research background. She based the model on the work of EI pioneers Salovey and Mayer (1990) Reports of the test are mixed. It is relatively simple and straightforward for those looking for something that is not very time consuming.

My favorite assessment tool is the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory. It is comprehensive and detailed amd gives a lot of good information for further discussion. It is easy to interpret and has good graphics which are appealing to visual learners. It is multi-purpose in that it can be used for both individual and the 360 version.

Emotional Intelligent Assessment tools are useful for gathering information, gaining clarity and a deeper understanding. They are excellent for furthering discussion, but should never be relied upon, or used as a sole source for making decisions.  

HarveyDeutschendorf-2-0215Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, internationally published author and speaker. To take the EI Quiz go to theotherkindofsmart.com. His book THE OTHER KIND OF SMART, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success has been published in 4 languages. Harvey writes for FAST COMPANY and has a monthly column with HRPROFESSIONALS MAGAZINE. You can follow him on Twitter @theeiguy.