Interview and Interrogation Training: Keys to the Written Statement

WZ / IAI Interviewing Tip of the Week

In this week’s International Association of Interviewers interview and interrogation training tip provided by Wicklander-Zulawski, Dave Thompson, CFI, vice president of operations for WZ, talks about the importance of the written statement.

Often, at the end of an interview, we as the interviewers become mentally drained and exhausted. As a result, we sometimes take shortcuts on the written statement. That’s really a dangerous and costly mistake.

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One of the key pieces of information that we’re going to get when we leave the interview is the written or audio- or video-recorded statement from our subject. That statement can be helpful in a variety of different ways. Even if the interview doesn’t result in an admission or a confession, it does result in information. It’s important to give the subject the ability to document their version of the story so we can go back and corroborate that information—or prove that it was incorrect when we received it.

The written statement can also serve as an important piece of evidence, whether it’s used in a criminal or civil trial.

Some key pieces of evidence in the written statement often get missed: things like page numbers, signatures, time, or date. Maybe the subject made a promise to pay restitution somewhere in the written statement. The written statement needs to include the details of the specific crime, the subject’s intent, and whether they know what they did was wrong. The statement needs to include the explanation from the subject’s perspective of what happened versus the interviewer’s.

There’s a lot of key elements in a statement. I challenge you in your next several interviewers to ensure that you don’t take shortcuts. Realize that the most important piece of the conversation is at the end.

Also, go back and look at your prior statements. Ask yourself, “What other information should I have received in this documentation? What could I have done to get a better statement? Was the subject able to give me their full version of the story?”

Don’t forget the importance of the statement.

Obtaining a Written Statement: Tip from the Archives

In a previous International Association of Interviewers interview and interrogation training tip provided by Wicklander-Zulawski, Dave Zulawski, CFI, Shane Sturman, CFI, and Wayne Hoover, CFI discussed the process of obtaining a written statement during the interview process.

Before you ever obtain a statement, you have to worry about the setup. A perfect spot to begin starts with the detailed notes that establish what was admitted to by the individual, and also can be used as a piece of evidence as part of the case. This should also establish the elements of the crime or policy violation, and may provide additional value in detailing that a lie is told so that later it can be disproved through the investigation.

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One of the important aspects of the setup part of the process is we need to minimize the seriousness of what is happening — we’re about to take the written statement, which may sound something like this:

“What we need to do now is get a written explanation of what happened…”

In response, they may respond, “Why do I need to write anything down? I’ve already told you everything…” to which a reasonable response might be:

“Yes, but you’ve also told me that you felt bad, and that it will never happen again. I think it’s also important that they hear in your own words. We also don’t want them to think that you’re responsible for all of the other losses that have occurred…”

It’s at this point that you give them the pen and paper, and expect that written statement. Just like you expect success when obtaining the admission, you should similarly expect that same level of expectation when obtaining the written statement. 

Every loss prevention investigator should continuously strive to enhance their investigative interviewing skills as part of an ongoing commitment to best-in-class interviewing performance. This includes holding ourselves to an elite standard of interview and interrogation training that is ethical, moral and legal while demanding excellence in the pursuit of the truth. The International Association of Interviewers (IAI) and Wicklander-Zulawski (WZ) provide interview and interrogation training programs and additional guidance to investigators when dealing with dishonest employees, employee theft, sexual harassment, policy violations, building rapport, pre-employment interviewing, lying, denials and obtaining a statement.

By focusing on the latest information and research from experts in the field as well as academia, legal and psychological resources, these video tips provide interview and interrogation training techniques that can enhance the skill sets of professionals with backgrounds in law enforcement, loss prevention, security, asset protection, human resources, auditors or anyone looking to obtain the truth.

To learn more about interview and interrogation training and how you can further develop your professional skill sets, please visit www.w-z.com or www.certifiedinterviewer.com for additional information.

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