EPISODE 186   |   

August 16, 2023

How to Leverage the 5 Pillars of Emotional Intelligence for Effective Recruiting

James Elliott

Recruiting is not only sales and data-driven. It encompasses a broader range of skills, qualities, and considerations which is mainly focused on building relationships and human connection. Effective recruiting involves understanding people’s motivations, aspirations, and personalities. 

That is why it is important for recruiters and business owners to understand the value of Emotional Intelligence. Emotional intelligence empowers recruiters to navigate the intricacies of human interaction, fostering trust, rapport, and success within the recruitment industry.

In this episode, my special guest, James Elliot, shares the 5 pillars of emotional intelligence which are critical components in becoming effective recruiters. James is very different from my usual guests in that he does not come from a recruiting background.

James joined the British Army in 2006, deploying around the world including to Afghanistan.

After his own issues with mental health, James became a strength and conditioning coach at a national league rugby team, where he learned the power of mentoring. He was then asked to help establish the first-ever British Army Parachute Jumping Instructors Platoon.

At RAF Brize Norton, James also attended several courses in mental health, becoming an instructor, and also broke 2 Guinness world records in feats of endurance in rugby. 

In 2018, James became a Mental Resilience Coach for the British Army, where he helped develop and deliver mental resilience training, including to special forces. In 2020, James left the army to take his mental resilience training to a wider audience including high-performing individuals and teams, such as the Paralympic Rowing team. 

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [1:39] Why understanding human behavior is practical in the recruiting industry.
  • [04:36] James’ journey as a mental resilience coach and what made him pursue mental health qualifications.
  • [15:04] James shares the resilience principles that he was teaching in the British Army.
  • [17:40] Our discussion on the key concepts of resilience.
  • [31:14] Practical applications of resilience in the field of recruiting.
  • [39:09] Why emotional influence and biases play a huge role in your decision-making.
  • [42:29] What should you do when a candidate ghosts you?
  • [46:49] Zooming in to Emotional Intelligence – what is it and how do you develop it?
  • [54:10] The 5 Pillars of Emotional Intelligence. 
  • [55:51] James shares his motto “Leave every room better than you found it” – use your positive influence.

Understanding Resilience and Human Behaviour to Become an Effective Recruiter

James explains his approach to mental resilience which focused on adapting to adversity. We discussed key topics o human behavior that can contribute to your success as a recruiter or recruitment business owner. The takeaways that well resonated with me are the following:

Embracing Human Behaviour Insight: He zoomed in on the value of understanding human behavior, which he believes is a massive part of being an effective recruiter. When dealing with your team, a candidate, or a client, this life skill is critical to becoming effective.

Leveraging Human Connection James also elaborated on the importance of engaging with someone on a very human level to bring out the very best of their performance. This is useful when coaching your team. James relayed very specific examples of how this has worked for him and his coachees and how this can work for you.

Thriving Through Resilience The principle of resilience is about turning surviving into thriving. For you to become resilient, it is not always about being the strongest or the sharpest. It is about learning to adapt. For James, it is about changing quicker and adapting faster than everybody.

Unveiling Emotional Intelligence James reveals his thought process about emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and understanding your emotions. These topics are relevant to the recruitment field, which is a people business.

How Emotional Intelligence Influences Your Decision Making

When we say resilience, we do not only refer to overcoming drastic events and momentous situations. For example, recruitment on its own is challenging as is due to its demanding and stressful nature, punctuated by daily rejection. You are dealing with human beings, who don’t always do what they say or communicate transparently. A strong will and resilient mindset are critical components to be successful in recruitment.

I had to ask James’ viewpoint on how to develop mental resilience. James argues that resilience isn’t about suppressing emotions but understanding them through emotional intelligence. We talked about practical steps that can help you develop emotional intelligence. A good example is when dealing with people, may it be a candidate or your own team member. Emotional maturity includes overcoming conscious and unconscious biases to deal with your stakeholders effectively. James says our biases often make us see people as we want, not objectively. Look at their actions by making an objective timeline of people’s actual behaviors to see their true patterns. 

We also discussed modern-day communication and how to deal with ghosting, which is becoming a more common trend nowadays. James gave his perspective on what prompts other people to ghost others and how this can be dealt with in the field of recruiting.

The 5 Pillars of Emotional Intelligence

James breaks emotional intelligence into 5 pillars: 

Self-awareness, emotional control, empathy, social awareness, and motivation.

He elaborated on each of these pillars and shared insights on how their application. He talked about the biggest obstacles to motivation and self-improvement. James also shared his motto: “Leave every room slightly better than you found it”.

Our Sponsors

This podcast is proudly sponsored by i-intro

i-intro® is an end-to-end retained recruitment platform. Their technology and methodology allow recruiters to differentiate themselves from the competition, win more retained business, bigger fees, and increase their billings. Their software combined with world-class training enables you to transition from transactional, contingency recruiter to consultative, retained recruiter. Instead of being perceived as a “me too” vendor, you’ll be positioned as a “me only” solutions provider. Be sure to mention Mark Whitby or The Resilient Recruiter. Book your free, no-obligation consultation here: https://recruitmentcoach.com/retained

Today’s Guest

James Elliott

A psychotherapist and resilience coach, who takes a close look at the scientific methods of the development of resilience, from observable neurobiological reactions to psychotherapeutic processes and proven psychological techniques to develop an individual’s emotional resilience.


Having served 14 years in the British Army’s Airborne Forces, including as the second in command of the British Army’s Mental Resilience Training Team, as part of the British Army’s first Army Parachute Jumping Instructors platoon, operational deployment to Afghanistan, and two seasons as a strength and conditioning coach to a National League rugby team.Now working as a psychotherapist who works with a broad spectrum of high-achieving individuals including trail-blazing athletes, special forces operators, blue light services, CEOs, politicians, and vulnerable veterans to help the individual find their subjective fulfillment and state of emotional resilience.


Fighting through childhood abuse, instability, poor mental health, and poverty, James Elliott uses his lived experiences to help relate the complicated psychological principles to his audience.


Currently living in Essex, where he is still an avid supporter of his local rugby team, dedicated to a healthy lifestyle and developing his health and strength, James continues his studies currently at King’s College London and is a father to a charismatic daughter.

About the Host

Mark Whitby

Mark Whitby is one of the world’s leading coaches for the recruitment industry. Since 2001, he has trained over 10,000 recruiters in 34 countries. Mark has helped recruiters to double or triple their billings and owners to increase their team’s sales by 67% in 90 days.

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