Interviewing is the simple act of asking questions of someone to gain information. It is a critical part of almost any investigation. At its most basic level it can be done by anyone. But interviewing is a skill and often terrible interviewers will believe they are good at what they do.
What complicates interviewing is that many of the people being interviewed either do not realize they have important information or do not wish to give you the information they do have. What further complicates the interview process is that our personalities and actions will directly affect the information obtained in every interview.
Proper interview training is designed to accomplish many goals. An interviewer must become aware of their own bias and how it will affect the interview. They need to understand the psychology of human interaction and know the techniques to show themselves as empathetic, approachable and trustworthy.
An interviewer must understand that every person interviewed will approach their interview with a variety of intents: They may wish to be fully cooperative or hide some or all of the truth. The accurate assessment of their word selection, body language and the content of what they say all play into an accurate assessment of their true cooperation.
A professional interviewer will know that most people lie by omission. They must understand the techniques needed to both identify where information is missing and bring the interviewee to willingly supply complete information.
A final subset of interviewing is the obtaining of the truth from people who are intent on outright lying. Training in this area focuses on understanding the underlying factors behind the lies and the techniques needed to bring them to confessing the truth.
While there is a financial cost and effort involved in obtaining proper interview training, no one should delude themselves into believing that there is no cost to conducting interviews that do not obtain the truth or that will not withstand outside scrutiny.
Improper or unskilled interviewing will not uncover or resolve internal conflict, impermissible behavior, or criminal conduct. Unresolved these issues disrupt staff, cost money and can destroy a businesses’ reputation.
Internal and external investigations must now anticipate that they could end up being examined via a hearing, tribunal or court case. Put under a microscope improper investigation and interviewing can be extremely costly to any business or agency.
Written by Don Adam of Simply Communicating