Thursday, September 22, 2016

Interview Techniques


Prodigy Investigative Group, Inc.
Prodigy Investigative Group, Inc.
Knowing what a potential witness is going to say prior to a deposition can be damage control in a case or allow the lawyer to apply their Client’s fund in a more central direction if the witness has nothing to offer the case.  Interview techniques vary widely.  An interview is a conversation with a purpose.  Conversation in a fact finding interview is 90% listening. 

The first steps to a successful interview include; preparation, case facts, people facts, timing, and location for interview.  Proper preparation is often ignored.  Knowing something about the interviewee will help in steering the introduction, establish rapport, reduce anxiety, flattery, and mirroring.  At Prodigy Investigative Group, Inc. we profile the interviewee and assign the Investigator most suited.  The economic status of the interviewee will determine what an Investigator will wear to the interview.  The interviewee’s personality, hobbies, background, family dynamics, and other factors aide in our selection of the interviewer.   If the individual is known to talk a lot, we plan our time accordingly and flatter the interviewee by taking plenty of notes.  

An Investigator should study the discovery and speak to the client as part of the preparation process.  At the onset of an interview, the Investigator must be visual in quickly observing and mentally noting the interviewee’s surroundings, appearance, and mood.  The Investigator must also be adept in studying body language and making mental notes.  Listening is crucial.  An individual may feel they know little or nothing about the subject they are being questioned on or may not want to get involved.  A good Investigator will listen closely to the interviewee and note the slightest information.  In a case where one does not want to get involved, an Investigator may want to initially set down their tablet and converse taking precise mental notes.  The interviewee may provide information on other witnesses unknown to the case. 

Cognitive Interview techniques increase the quantity of information you can get from the interviewee.  The Investigator should have the interviewee create a visual picture for them of the environment (including physical appearances, sounds, etc.).  This provides for further and more specific recall of details. 

Interviewees must feel confident they will have the time to speak, think, recall, and correct.  The Investigator should refrain from interrupting the interviewee.  This can hinder a train of thought and recall.  Revisiting a subject can be addressed at a more appropriate time in the interview.  An Investigator should recite back information to the interviewee requesting they correct anything they misunderstood, clarify information, then ask if there was anything they may have forgot to ask or if they have anything further to add.   Particular care should be taken when recalling information the interviewee may have provided reluctantly.  The Investigator should always leave an open door at the conclusion of an interview for questions at a later time. 

An Investigator must take special care not to jeopardize a witness’ credibility in court by leading the witness to make a statement that may not be accurate or by reading between the lines and reporting what they believe the witness was getting at. 

Investigators should know and understand the Attorney Client’s technique.  Observing a case the lawyer is presenting in court is one great way to learn this.  Invite your Investigator to observe you in action. 

Sue Gent
Prodigy Investigative Group
772-634-6040
954-866-3338





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