Top Tips You Need to Remember for an Effective Investigative Interview Process

An investigative interview is no joke – it requires a lot of preparation, a great amount of attention, and a certain instinct that tells you where the important information is, and what data should be ignored. It could be a tremendously rewarding process, but it can also be very stressful and can test your resolve. The investigative process is a research project like no other.

Here’s the thing: the interview process is only as good as the person conducting it. It could be said (in all things) that practice makes perfect, but in the case of investigative interviews, the saying applies even more. Luckily, there are some things you can do to dramatically increase your chances of success. Here are the top tips you need to remember for an effective investigative interview process.

Prepare

Do as much research as you can in order to get a full understanding of both the subject you are interviewing and how the person relates to the story. There are no shortcuts regarding research – it is, and will always be, an activity of digging, digging, digging. Those who don’t prepare risk looking like a fool – or worse, not getting anywhere.

Conducting questions

Once your research is complete, find out what you do not know yet – and write down what the purpose of the interview really is. What information do you want to know, concretely, and why is that information so important? Ask open-ended questions, such as “Tell me about…” and avoid leading questions, such as “Isn’t it true that….”

Maintain objectivity

It’s important that you don’t get personally involved in the story – or at least, that you maintain your objectivity, even if the answers to the questions are important for you personally. It’s easier said than done, but it’s very important if you want to discover the truth and keep the interviewee at ease.

Develop your story

Make sure your questions have a certain direction. Make sure the questions have a purpose. You’re writing a story. You’re composing a truthful tale.

Can you summarise?

Imagine you have to go to court and explain it to the judge. Can you tell the story in one paragraph without being afraid of unanswered questions? To help you, have the entire interview recorded, and then transcribed. Legal transcription services exist for this purpose. With proper legal transcription, you will be more confident about the facts.

Remember that the whole process is not quite as cut-out as it appears to be; there may be times when you have to go back and interrupt the line of questioning if you feel you don’t have enough information. Similarly, you may want to halt the interview if you feel yourself losing objectivity. It’s a process – but it’s a process that progresses much more quickly if you follow some basic rules. It’s a matter of gaining knowledge – of getting to the truth, after all.