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Six Step Formula for Investigative Interviews

Six Step Formula for Investigative Interviews

Six Step Formula for Investigative Interviews

Investigative interviews need to uncover the full facts of an event that has occurred. Therefore, investigative interviews need to be professionally undertaken to ensure that all relevant information is gleaned and accurately recorded from all victims, witnesses and suspects, using the following formula:

1. Listen with 100% attention.

Investigators must give one hundred per cent full mental focus to the interview process. Interviews are mentally taxing and require full concentration. Investigators need to ensure environments in which interviews are conducted, allows for full concentration and good listening without distraction.

2. To ensure complete understanding, we take accurate written notes.

Ultimately, the investigators' purpose is to gather and record evidence sufficient to write a report, that will allow decision makers to make wise decisions. The process of writing takes place during the interviews.

3. Ask questions to gain more specific details.

Most people use vague terms and ambiguous language, which is the OPPOSITE of the language style that investigators use. So we ask questions to translate vague, opinionated and subjective language to make it more specific, factual and objective.

4. Identify, highlight and question any contradictions.

Investigators seek out and (if possible) resolve contradictions. If we cannot resolve them by careful questioning and examination, then we HIGHLIGHT unresolved contradictions in our final report to the decision makers.

5. Confirm that the chronological order of the narrative is correct.

Investigators not only need to discover what was said and done; they must also know the exact sequence of events. The right events recorded in the wrong order, is wrong.

One of the most common ways that guilty people lie, is to change the order of events. Investigators should think of events as being caught on old fashioned cine film, with each frame "representing a certain period of time, in which things are said and done". Investigators need to conserve and record into each "time frame" the correct words, behaviour and events.

6. Construct a complete written narrative.

Investigators write their notes in full view of the person being interviewed. Ideally, notes should be endorsed by the interviewee as being a correct record of the interview.

This makes the investigative process more open and honest, and it stops interviewees later claiming that reports written by investigators contain errors, or omissions.

The narrative recorded in the notes should be as complete as possible as they form the basis of the final report that is given to decision makers.

Investigation Skills Training Course

Learn how to properly conduct investigative interviews with our one-day Investigation Skills Training Course.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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