Blog Post

Choosing the Location for Investigation Interviews

Richard P. Kusserow | October 2019

Regardless of whether you are debriefing a complainant, interviewing a witness, or confronting a subject in an interrogation, determining the interview location and setting is important. The interviewer’s objective is to create privacy and eliminate any possible interruptions or distractions. The location should be away from any traffic or other distracting influences or where others may overhear what is occurring. Interviewers should avoid using the interview subject’s own office because it invites interruptions or may cause the person to turn their attention to another matter. It also gives the interviewee the advantage of being on their “own turf.” Interviewing someone away from their own area provides the investigator with an advantage. The following are some tips and considerations in deciding upon the interview location and setting:

  1. Privacy- The fewer the people in the room, the better the results;
  2. Quiet- Try to avoid distractions and make sure outsiders can’t hear the discussion;
  3. Room Size- Rooms should be small enough to convey intimacy;
  4. Well Lit- Proper lighting permits closer observation of an individual;
  5. Plain- Avoid distractions (e.g. window, pictures, wall clocks, etc.);
  6. Phones- Shut off any phone to avoid incoming calls;
  7. Furniture- Avoid having furniture in between you and the interviewee (barrier to rapport);
  8. Seating- The interviewer should sit directly across from the interviewee; and
  9. Positioning- Place the interviewee in a position where he/she faces the interviewer and not a window.

Practical considerations may necessitate compromising on these considerations. Also, most interviews will be for persons who are witnesses or who provide limited amount of information. As such, many of these tips may not be necessary. However, if the person to be interviewed is the subject of the investigation, these principles become important elements for achieving successful outcomes.

About the Author

Richard P. Kusserow established Strategic Management Services, LLC, after retiring from being the DHHS Inspector General, and has assisted over 3,000 health care organizations and entities in developing, implementing and assessing compliance programs.

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