Interview Procedures and Techniques
You have prepared for your interview by learning about the incident under
investigation and the person to be interviewed.
You have prepared an outline or
questions, scheduled a time and place, and arranged for witnesses and interpreters
Now you are ready to go.
An interview may follow the sequence of
questions you have prepared, or it may take off in another direction.
event, there are some basic elements common to all interviews:
Provide an Introduction. The beginning of an interview is the only time when you
do all the talking. You need to relate information to the interviewee, including
your name, position, and credentials. You also need to state the nature of and the
reason for the interview. You should not treat this lightly by rushing through a
quick explanation. Take your time and express concern for the individual. Relate
the importance of the case, especially with victims.
The introduction sets the
tone for the entire interview. By showing concern, you are certain to receive more
Next, give a general statement of the status of the case.
Do not disclose any
specific facts or details.
For example, to the larceny victim you would say, "I
understand your house has been burglarized; I would like to talk with you about
Determine Appropriate Actions and Attitudes.
Once you have begun the interview,
your actions and attitudes must be appropriate to the situation.
You are a
professional, and your attitude should be professional and sincere.
showing concern and not haste, you will get more cooperation and a more detailed
and useful account.
You need to keep in mind the emotional state or attitudes of the victim or witness,
especially if the incident is recent.
The interviewee may be reluctant to talk.
He may be influenced by some prejudice. His perception or memory of the incident
may be exaggerated. A calm, steady, concerned approach will help lessen emotional
Digressions may occur, you must continually make an effort to "stick to
the facts." The concern and consideration you give to a victim's injuries or losses
will provide the incentive to a truthful victim to recall details.
At the same
time, a lying victim may be thrown off-guard they will be more likely to tell
discrepancies and contradictions. Note the interviewee's emotional state. A later
interview may be required to verify the information given to you.
Determine Appropriate Questions and Prompts.
You already have
an idea of the
information that you need.
The outline you have prepared should
ensure that you
get that information. When the interviewee is ready, willing, and
able to discuss
the incident, you can forgo the questions and use an indirect
indirect approach is simply having the interviewee tell his version
of the story in
his own words. You should ask questions at the end of the story
only to clarify
information or to fill in gaps.