What is a soulful interview? Why is it important? How does it impact research and recruitment?
Every interview has the potential to be a singular event, yet most interviews gravitate toward patterns that are frequently repeated. The spectrum between complete uniqueness and total repetition represents the range in which most interviews take place. Interviews, whether for research or recruitment, can become mechanical procedures, overlooking the fact that they are human encounters that can be conducted in a soulful manner. The key, apparently simple, characteristic of a soulful interview is recognizing the other person as a human being.
While ethical considerations are important in this context, attention to the soul of an interview also serves practical purposes. A soulful interview is more likely to yield valuable research data and enable optimal recruitment. In contrast to a mechanical-procedural interview, a soulful interview creates more, comforts more, and is more likely to opens up the paths of expression and exploration. When I refer to creation, comfort, and expression, I have in mind very small acts, events that would be completely missed by disinterested eyes. At the same time, these small acts make the difference between feeling drained versus feeling enthusiastic at the end of an interview, regardless of the formal outcome.
If the term “soulful” doesn’t resonate with you, it can be substituted with “artful.” The art of interviewing, or more generally the art of conversation involves finding the best way to conduct an interaction, fostering openness, honesty, and co-discovery. Showing genuine curiosity in the interviewee encourages a person to express themselves fully. A soulful interview goes beyond scripted questions and shows interest in forging a connection–however brief and temporary–between two individuals.
In my experience, companies with a healthy and innovative culture tend to prioritize soulful interviews. I suspect this happens without planning, as a natural byproduct of the company culture. Healthier companies value the human being and tacitly acknowledge the impact an interaction can have on all sides, rather than just following set questions and procedures. Similarly, open-minded researchers who are willing to explore unexpected paths are more likely to make discoveries.
Looking from a slightly different angle, being open-minded means utilizing external intelligence rather than relying solely on personal knowledge. It involves pursuing research questions or recruitment goals while remaining receptive to unexpected avenues of exploration. Thus, a soulful interview not only respects the interviewee but also keeps the spirit of discovery alive.
Interviews are human encounters and, therefore, warrant a soulful approach. By prioritizing the human connection over predetermined questions and interests, we create meaningful and productive interactions. Ultimately, a soulful interview embodies the spirit of discovery and communicates that spirit to those we interact with.