Where To Conduct Interviews During An Investigation

Key Points:
  • Location and positioning are important for interviews
  • Tips in selecting the location for conducting interviews

Conducting investigative interviews must be done discreetly to avoid alarming anyone being interviewed or causing others in the organization to speculate. After deciding who should be interviewed and in what order, the next decision should be where the interviews will take place. The setting should be private and a place away from any distractions or interruptions. This means that a person should be interviewed away from their office or work location. In addition, having people report to the Compliance Office is not a good idea. Making sure interviews do not take place in anyone’s office helps to make the interview space feel more neutral. The following are some considerations for deciding where to conduct interviews:

  1. Privacy. The fewer the people who are in the room, the better the results and likelihood that the interviewee will share information.
  2. Quiet. The interviewer doesn’t want distracting external sounds or outsiders to overhear.
  3. Non-Threatening. The location should not appear like an interrogation room.
  4. Room Size. The room should be small enough to be personable but not too confining.
  5. Well Lighted. Permits closer observation of individual.
  6. Plain. When possible, avoid distractions (e.g. window, pictures, wall clocks, etc.).
  7. Telephone. Shut off or silence phones to avoid incoming calls disrupting an interview.
  8. Furniture. Avoid having furniture in between interviewer and interviewee because it can be a barrier to establishing rapport.
  9. Facing individual. Sit across from interviewee without violating personal space.
  10. Positioning. Avoid the person being able to look out of a window instead of at you.

It is recognized that there are practical limitations that may necessitate compromising on these considerations. Ideally, an office or meeting room will meet most of these guidelines for conducting interviews. Also, it is worth noting that most interviews will be of persons who are witnesses or who provide a limited amount of information. As such, many of these tips may not be as important. However, if the person being interviewed is the subject of the investigation, applying these principles becomes an important element for a successful outcome.

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