Warren Buffett the multi billionaire investor says he looks for 3 things when hiring. These are integrity, intelligence, and energy.

“Somebody once said that in looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if you don’t have the first, the other two will kill you. You think about it; it’s true. If you hire somebody without [integrity], you really want them to be dumb and lazy.” –Warren Buffett

I like this quote a lot. However, I believe that the most important quality to look for when hiring is emotional intelligence. It’s basically your ability to manage your emotions and it’s a measure of your ability to manage interpersonal interactions.

As an engineer, I believe the study of emotional intelligence is going to have the biggest impact on our ability to successfully communicate ideas. Our work isn’t about packing boxes or moving heavy objects, it’s knowledge work. Most of us are collaborating and working with others to design something. This kind of work requires emotional labor. That’s the effort of having difficult conversations, figuring out the right thing to do, bringing people together, or producing ideas that challenge conventional thinking.

IQ might get you your job, but EQ or emotional intelligence will have the biggest impact on how successful you are in that line of work. A big IQ is great when you’re at school and a good IQ almost directly translates to good grades. After school when we join the workforce it has less impact on our success. At work, its more meaningful if you are self-aware, if you can stay motivated, and if you conduct yourself well inter-personally. It’s more meaningful to be able to read other people and know how to get along with others.

An easy way to improve emotional intelligence is to try listening to others more intently. As Steven Covey says, “seek first to understand, then be understood”.

I think it’s an important topic to be aware of. Warren Buffett’s business partner Charlie Munger said, “Other people are trying to be smart, all I’m trying to be is non-idiotic.” It takes more than IQ, EQ is the other piece.