Interview and Interrogation Training: Developing Rapport

This week’s International Association of Interviewers interview and interrogation training tip from the archives, provided by Wicklander-Zulawski, has Chris Norris, CFI, director of WZ Europe and International Training, looking at developing rapport.

What is rapport? Rapport is creating a relationship in a very short period of time.

Many times, when I conduct training courses, I ask attendees about what makes a good interviewer. A variety of topics, traits, and characteristics often arise, but one response consistently comes forward: the ability to build rapport.

How do you build rapport? One of the ways we build rapport while conducting interviewers is quite easy: by asking a simple question. Here’s how it works. The question is: Can you tell me something about yourself?

For me, the way I ask that question is that I tend to offer it up with reciprocity. I say, “Let me tell you about myself.” I share a little bit, then I say, “I’ll be telling you more about myself, but before I get into all that, why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself?” That encourages them to open up.

The reason this works in terms of rapport-building is that when we ask them about themselves, and they’re willing to share (“Oh, I’m married, I’ve got a family, my kids are involved in these activities, this is what I do for work” etc.), now we can share a bond. Now I have a sense of who the individual is. I could share a common interest. By sharing a common interest, we tend to build rapport because I’m much more like you than you realize.

Some of you might think, “Chris, in the environment I work in, people aren’t going to answer that question. They’re going to look at me like I’m crazy.” What I’ll ask you is this: do you think they’d rather talk about themselves, or why they’re sitting in front of you right now?

The other thing to consider is, you may be the first member of management to ever sit down with this individual and say “Who are you? What makes you tick? Tell me about yourself.” The thing about ‘me telling you about me’ is ‘I end up liking you, because you let me talk about me.’ People like talking about themselves. Giving someone that opportunity to talk about themselves and discover a common interest with you helps you build that relationship in a very short period of time. It helps you build rapport.


Every loss prevention investigator should 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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This post was originally published in 2018 and was updated January 4, 2018.

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