Interview and Interrogation Training: The Letter of Explanation

This week’s International Association of Interviewers interview and interrogation training series, provided by Wicklander-Zulawski, has Tammy Clark, CFI, CFE, manager of online and simulated training, talking about the written statement.

A common question that comes up in training seminars is: “How the heck do we get that written statement?”

Think about a few things when it comes to the written statement.

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First and foremost, ensure that you aren’t telling your subjects what to write. We cannot dictate to the subject what can or should be contained within the written statement.

It might be helpful to change the perspective of the written statement to more of a “letter of explanation.” A letter of explanation then becomes the subject’s opportunity to share their point of view.

What if the subject resists, saying “Why should I write this down? We already talked about it.” The key is that the letter of explanation is their opportunity to put in their own words everything that had been discussed.

Often, however, even when a subject is willing to provide a written statement, they ask where to start. Remember, we can’t dictate to them, but when we get a question like “Where do I start?” we can simply ask: “What would be easier for you?”

Say something like: “We talked about a lot of things here today. Would it be easier to start from the very beginning, or maybe from a more recent time?”

From the beginning to the end of the interview, it’s important to remember that we need to be establishing rapport and relying on that rapport throughout the conversation. Just because we’ve reached step 18 and we’re looking at that written statement, it’s not time to cut that rapport short. So ask “What would be easier for you?” and then listen.

We can guide the subject through the conversation by asking questions:

  • What was it that felt easiest to talk about?
  • What do you remember about that time?

Have them write down what they recall. Don’t be harsh or judgmental. Don’t say, “You should know exactly what to write since we just discussed it.” Continue to build that relationship and remember, the final statement is about the subject and his or her opportunity to share their point of view on everything that was just discussed.

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.

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