More untrained and inexperienced people tread into the area of do it yourself interviews and interrogations than perhaps any other area of investigations.  Many believe that their experience on either side of an interview (usually employment interviews) qualifies them to conduct investigative interviews. Add to that the notion of saving time and money with “do-it-yourself” interviews, and you can see why so many people dive headfirst into the unfamiliar and volatile world of investigative interviewing.  In truth, the risks of conducting your own investigative interviews far outweigh any potential benefits. “Do-it-yourself-ers” run a high risk of getting lost, missing important information and ultimately destroying their case.

Interview or Interrogation.  It is important to know the difference between interviews and interrogations.  A good interrogation begins with an information-gathering interview. The investigator opens with basic questions such as name and address, and then moves into questions designed to uncover the subject’s fears, needs and concerns.  The goal of an interrogation is to obtain an admission, not information. Interrogators employ specific skills to confront the subject with inconsistent statements and the burden of evidence.

Planning. Proper planning is essential for a successful interrogation.  Lack of planning is the number one cause of interrogation failures. Too many amateur interrogators charge into the interview armed only with luck and the hope that their interviewee will be one of the ten percent of suspects that would confess to anyone.

Environment: The interrogator should control not only the discussion but also the room where the discussion takes place.  The ideal room is one free of distractions. It should be an interior room with no windows, undecorated walls, and only the furniture necessary to conduct the interrogation.

Knowledge of the facts:  Knowledge of an incident is an essential persuasion tool.  Some subjects come to an interrogation ready to engage in game and word playing, and confess only after being forced to speak accurately by an interrogator who knew enough about the subject to thwart attempts at evasive verbal game playing. Many subjects provide more information than they intend to due to their respect and trust of the interrogator.  An experienced interrogator knows how far to venture on instinct and how to extrapolate from the known facts. This balance is learned only through years of training and experience interrogating subjects.

Background on the subject: It is critical for the interrogator to obtaining sufficient background information about the subject, in order to challenge early misrepresentation or lies. The interrogator’s background knowledge also puts the subject at a disadvantage as he does not know how much the investigator knows.

Establish a rapport: In order to get a subject to talk, the interrogator must develop positive rapport from the beginning.  Most subjects respond positively to an introduction and explanation of the process, followed by a session of direct questions and answers. It is important for the interrogator to establish control by posing the questions to be answered, and it takes a skilled interrogator to maintain this control throughout the interview.
Interviewing and interrogation are investigative arts that require education, training, and practice, practice, practice. Only an experienced interrogator possesses the skill and instinct necessary to get the outcomes you need. Having a skilled, professional investigator from Cadfael InvestigativeGroup conduct your interviews and interrogations will add value to your case. Call us today at (763) 694-6086.
In future issues of Fraud Alert we will cover other topics such as:

  • How to handle objections
  • How to develop persuasive themes
  • Allow enough time
  • Documenting Admissions
  • And more