As an investigator, your work does not end once you have conducted surveillance, scoured social media profiles, and dug into the background of your subject. While these investigative techniques are invaluable for gathering information and identifying leads, they only reveal part of the story. To gain a full, accurate understanding of a situation, post-investigation interviews are critical. Sitting down face to face with your subject allows you to ask targeted follow-up questions, read body language and tone, and probe deeper into areas of concern. Interviews provide an opportunity to connect the dots from your other findings, fill in missing details, and determine if the subject is truthful when asked about information identified through previous investigations. They can make or break an investigation by either corroborating theories or revealing new truths. For these reasons, investigators who neglect comprehensive post-investigation interviews do so at the peril of their cases. Interviews are not an optional component but rather a necessity for thorough, professional investigative work.
Prior to conducting an interview, it is critical to perform a comprehensive pre-interview investigation. This includes reviewing all available information from surveillance, social media monitoring, and background checks. Analyzing this data helps the interviewer identify inconsistencies or gaps that can be addressed in the interview.
The pre-interview investigation represents the foundation upon which a successful interview is built. The more an interviewer knows about a subject before an interview, the higher the likelihood of obtaining valuable and actionable information during the interview itself. Conducting a comprehensive pre-interview investigation is a prudent step that can yield significant benefits.
After conducting surveillance, social media monitoring, and background checks on a subject, in-person interviews are critical to gaining further insight.
Face-to-face interviews allow investigators to observe the subject’s body language and reactions, providing context that written records alone cannot. Subtle cues like eye contact, posture, and nervous tics can reveal valuable information. Interviews also give investigators the opportunity to ask follow-up questions and probe for details that may have been missed during initial investigations.
In-person interviews facilitate building rapport and trust with the subject. This can encourage more open and honest communication, allowing the investigator to gain a deeper understanding of the subject’s character, values and motivations. With sensitivity and patience, face-to-face interaction helps to develop a connection that overcomes barriers to disclosure.
Conducting a post-investigation interview demonstrates thoroughness and a commitment to uncovering the truth. It gives the subject a chance to feel heard, clarify details, and address any inaccuracies. This fair process can mitigate feelings of being unjustly targeted or judged, promoting goodwill even if the outcome is unfavorable.
Conducting interviews following an investigation can uncover details that were previously unknown or unclear. Approaching interviews strategically and systematically helps extract useful information to gain further insight.
Prepare thoroughly by reviewing all details of the investigation and identifying gaps in information that interviews could fill. Create an outline of discussion points and questions tailored for each interviewee based on their potential knowledge and involvement. Send a list of broad discussion points in advance so interviewees can prepare, while keeping some questions unrevealed until the interview.
Begin interviews casually to build rapport, then transition to more targeted questions. Use open-ended questions to encourage comprehensive responses, while following up with specific, probing questions to gather details. Ask interviewees to walk through events chronologically to identify inconsistencies in the timeline. Request clarification or examples to support vague or dubious claims.
Listen closely for hints of deceit like lack of details, evasiveness or inconsistency. Look for non-verbal cues like lack of eye contact or fidgeting. Ask the same questions in different ways to see if the responses change. Summarize what the interviewee said to confirm your understanding and allow them to clarify or expand on their answers.
Conducting professional, strategic interviews is vital to a comprehensive investigation. Effectively preparing, actively listening, asking probing questions and identifying areas for further clarification can uncover critical details that were previously hidden or uncertain. Subsequent steps to resolve issues and determine additional actions help achieve a full, accurate understanding of the events and topics under investigation.
After all your hard work conducting surveillance, combing through social media, and researching background information, the investigation may feel complete. However, the post-investigation interview is one of the most critical parts of the process. Speaking with your subject directly can reveal key insights, confirm or challenge assumptions, and expose new leads. Though preparing for and conducting interviews requires time and skill, the potential benefits to your investigation are immense. Do not cut corners here – your thoroughness and effectiveness as an investigator are at stake. Approach the interview with an open and curious mind, push past superficial answers, and gain a deeper understanding of the motivations and character of your subject. The story is not over until the interview is done. Stay focused, ask good questions, and listen carefully. The truth may be closer than you think.