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Interviewing the Gurus of Interviewing

EDITORS NOTE: Douglas E. Wicklander, CFI, CFE, and David E. Zulawski, CFI, CFE, are the founding partners of Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, Inc. Founded in 1982, the firm specializes in investigations, interview, and polygraph techniques.

Prior to forming the company, Wicklander was employed by John E. Reid and Associates from 1971 to 1980 as a polygraph examiner and instructor at their school of polygraph and criminal interrogation. During this time, he was named director of the companys Behavioral Analysis Interview Division. In 1980, Wicklander was assigned as a sales representative with Reid Psychological Systems, an affiliate company that markets paper-and-pencil honesty tests for job applicants and existing employees.

Zulawski began his career in 1973 as a special agent with the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad investigating thefts from interstate shipments in transit. He later joined the Barrington, Illinois, Police Department. In 1978 Zulawski joined the staff of John E. Reid and Associates as a polygraph examiner and later was assigned as director ofthe Police and Fire Applicant Screening Division. In 1980 he joined Reid Psychological Systems as a sales representative.

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Wicklander and Zulawski have coauthored numerous papers and training programs as well as the text Practical Aspects of Interview and Interrogation, 2nd Edition. They also write the ongoing Interview & Interrogation column in LossPrevention magazine.

EDITOR: Our readers know you as the gurus of interviewing. Lets help them get to know you better as individuals. After you left college, where did you work and what were your career plans?

ZULAWSKI: I went to Knox College in Galesburg, IL, where I graduated in 1973 with a degree in geology. Much to my surprise, when I got back to Chicago, there were no mining or oil careers. I took a job as a special agent for the railroad, where I spent several years doing criminal and company investigations. From there I went to the police department in Barrington, a Chicago suburb, where I spent three years doing patrol and investigations. After being trained as a polygraph examiner, I joined John Reid.

WICKLANDER: I went to Athens College in Athens, AL, which is about twenty miles from Huntsville. During my sophomore year, I met John Reid at a social function and asked to interview with him. I interviewed and asked him if I could get a summer job doing polygraph tests. It was at that point I realized it was not that simple. Mr. Reid told me the history of polygraph and whats involved. He advised that I could not get into polygraph until I graduated from college. He said, What I can do is give you some direction. Howd you like to be a store detective? By the end of that day, I became a store detective.

I was a store detective for the summer, which was great experience. The thing that sticks in my mind is that they didnt have any training at that time. Literally, by the end of the first day I caught my first shoplifter and nobody had told me what to look for. The following year, Mr. Reid suggested I get involved in law enforcement. I obtaineda job as correctional officer for the Cook County Department of Corrections. I did that for the summer before graduating from college. Then I worked for John Reid where I spent almost ten years.

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Interviewing the Gurus of Interviewing

EDITOR: When did you two meet?

WICKLANDER: David and I met for the first time at Reid around 1978 while we were both working as licensed polygraph examiners.

ZULAWSKI: When I first went to polygraph school, I had limited contact with Doug. He was actually assigned to a special project when I was there working to develop the behavioral interview as a stand-alone interview to be used without the polygraph. The first case we worked on together was the theft of three Czanne paintings from the Chicago Art Institute. One fellow who was involved refused the polygraph and Doug interviewed him. At some point later, the employee claimed the kidnappers of the Czannes contacted him to get the ransom. The FBI eventually recovered the paintings from the employee. So, that was when we first really got to know each other.

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EDITOR: At that point Doug, you were already working on the behavioral interview without using the polygraph.

WICKLANDER: John appointed me director of the behavioral analysis interview division. At that time, only two or three states prohibited the polygraph by statute, but there were other situations in which it was not a viable tool. I realized that the behavioral interview was a viable alternative when the polygraph was not a feasible tool. I did that until October 1980 when I went to work with Dan Reid at the Reid Report as a sales representative. I worked there until 1982 when Dave and I started our business.

EDITOR: You both mentioned John Reid. Many of our readers may not have a true perspective on the man and what he did throughout his career. Could you elaborate on his contribution to the world of interviewing and behavioral analysis?

WICKLANDER: John is considered the father of the modern-day polygraph. He developed the control question technique that is still widely used today. In the 1970s, he felt there was also a need to train the law enforcement community to do interviews and interrogations. So he started doing training in that area. John felt strongly about continuing professional development. Dave and I really believe that also.

EDITOR: So, you got together and started a business. At that point, what was your business model?

ZULAWSKI: We would meet in early mornings and late nights to put the business plan together. At that point, it was going to revolve around polygraph and training.

WICKLANDER: Incidentally, Dave and I are proud to say we never spent a minute of company time doing our business plan for our own business. When Dave and I were working at the Reid Report, we gave it 110 percent.

EDITOR: With the polygraph and training components, was retail a predominant objective of your business?

ZULAWSKI: Initially, retail was the most important part of our business because what supported us in those early years was polygraph testing. Our first retail client was Marshall Fields. At that point, one of the basics of doing an interview was to do a preliminary interview, obtain an admission from the associate, then polygraph to expand the admission, verify the admission, and take a final statement. Thats where we fit in. From Marshall Fields, we expanded to other retailers.

EDITOR: Most, if not all of our readers, think of both of you more from the training area than from the polygraph. When did you start developing the training seminars?

WICKLANDER: We did our first seminar on interview and interrogation in 1983. We started doing training, but were still doing numerous polygraph tests. We had six full-time and three part-time examiners. But the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1990 forced us to concentrate more on the training and non-polygraph areas of the business.

EDITOR: For those readers who may not know, that legislation outlawed the use of polygraph in most cases in the workplace. Is polygraph used at all in the retail sector anymore?

ZULAWSKI: Very rarely. To give you an idea, with all of our examiners prior to the 1990 legislation, we would do forty-plus exams a day. The year after that passed, we did twelve tests in the whole year. Basically, if you can polygraph somebody in the private sector today, you already have almost enough to fire them anyway. In most case you are just opening another potential problem by administering the polygraph.

EDITOR: How is the polygraph used today in other sectors, such as law enforcement?

ZULAWSKI: Its used at the local, state, and federal levelsCIA, NSA, and the military. They have their own examiners. Theres a federal polygraph training class thats run there, and a number of private concerns also train examiners. Probably every state has state examiners and larger counties and municipalities may have their own examiners. But theres not a lot of testing being done in the private sector, unless it is in the exempt sectors, such as the drug, nuclear, and armored car segments.

EDITOR: Talk to us about the processes and services that your company is involved in.

ZULAWSKI: We still do some polygraph testing, almost exclusively for police departments and prosecutors. We do investigations, primarily larger white-collar crime investigations. And we either support companies with interviews for case closure or handle cases from beginning to end. We also have training programs for the public and private sectors and computer-based training.

WICKLANDER: We offer several types of computer-based training. One is the Certified Forensic Interviewer, the CFI program. The program itself was developed for us with RuMe Interactive. We also have four other on-line training programstelephone interviewing, interpretation of behavior, preserving the statement, and pre-employment interviewing.Those are geared more to the private sector.

We also provide Internet webinars, which are a one- to one-and-a-half-hour session covering report writing, preserving the statement, telephone interviewing, developing the admission, and other areas. We also have intensive personalized training classes in our office for one to six people at a time.

In addition, we offer seminars on sexual harassment, telephone interviewing, interviewing for auditors, and interviewing for non-loss prevention people, which can be forhuman resources or store operations.

In the law enforcement arena, we offer criminal interview and interrogation, both basic and advanced, and we also offer field investigations, field interviewing, homicide investigations, and interviewing for threat assessments.

EDITOR: What roles have the two of you played throughout the development of the company and what roles do you play today to support your company?

ZULAWSKI: When we started out, it was very much a fifty-fifty endeavor. We both knew exactly what the other was doing. As time passed, we naturally fell into things that we were both suited for. Doug primarily handled company operations, sales, and marketing. I gravitated towards product development, research, and writing.

EDITOR: So many people regard Doug and Dave as interviewing and interrogating experts, how many interviews have each of you done?

WICKLANDER: Ive done over 10,000.

ZULAWSKI: Ive done over 9,000.

EDITOR: How many investigators have gone through your training over the past 25 years?

WICKLANDER: I dont know exactly. We now train 3,000 to 5,000 people a year.

Interviewing the Gurus of InterviewingEDITOR: You mentioned CFI, talk about the CFI program from the aspect of how the idea originated, how it came to fruition, current status, and your goals and objectives.

WICKLANDER: Dave and I had discussed the idea over several years. But it was in Austin, TX, at the annual convention of the American Polygraph Association that we really got serious. At that conference Dr. Frank Horvath said to us, When is the interview and interrogation industry going to get its act together? If it does not, it will go to the wayside like the polygraph did. If you dont police yourself, somebody elsei.e., the government is going to do it for you. Literally, by the time we left that meeting, we had called our intellectual property attorney and asked him to investigate whether CFI could be trademarked as a designation.

He said the problem with trademarking Certified Forensic Interviewer is that the term forensic implies court testimony. We said we definitely wanted to call it Certified Forensic Interviewer because we believe any interview that is conducted should be conducted with the understanding that it could end up in court.

There are people in the industry who feel that if their people have four, eight, or sixteen hours of training, they are experts. We do not agree. As proud as we are of our two-day seminar, we dont believe that thats enough. We need to raise the bar in the industry.

ZULAWSKI: Originally, I think we would both admit we were naive in terms of what it took to develop a certification. After we started to investigate and talked with some of the professional test development organizations, we chose Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP). They helped us go through the process. I was astounded at how difficult it was to develop the overall content of the certification text, not to mention the difficulty of writing questions forthe examination.

EDITOR: What is the current status of the CFI?

ZULAWSKI: We are just shy of 600 CFIs and have another 400 to 500 preparing for the exam. Its growing faster than most certification programs that do not grandfather candidates into the organization. Today candidates are largely from the private sector, with a relatively small number of police officers, although thats growing as well.

WICKLANDER: The Department of Defense Polygraph Institute is certifying the CFI preparatory course for twenty hours of continuing education. The CFI preparatory course now qualifies for two college credits through Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, WI, and is part of the colleges Law Enforcement Certificate program.

ZULAWSKI: From that first meeting, we were tasked with developing a survey that was sent to 1,000 people in the public and private sectors to determine what was important to do the job of an interviewer. The categories and subcategories we developed with our advisory board were then tested against what real-world interviewers do in the public and private sectors. Some of the things we first included were omitted; they just werent relevant. That left us with fifteen knowledge categories that were to be included in the test. We developed two examinations with 160 questions per exam. The first hundred people who took the examination had to wait for the results because we didnt know what a passing score was going to be until AMP did the statistical analysis.

EDITOR: Both of you have long been involved in loss prevention. From your perspective, how has the profession changed both positively and negatively?

ZULAWSKI: Loss prevention has become much more sophisticated over the years with the use of computer programs and cameras. When we first started, loss prevention in some specialty operations simply involved going into a high-shrink store, interviewing the employees, and if people admitted they were terminated. Sometimes they just polygraphed everyone in the store. Basically that changed in 1990 with the Employee Polygraph Protection Act.

WICKLANDER: The biggest difference I see over the last thirty years is how seriously everyone is taking the loss prevention industry and how committed people are to professionalism. As I said earlier, when I started as a store detective, I had no formal training. It was on-the-job training. When I worked as a correctional officer, I had no formal training. Today, we see the commitment, almost without exception, that people in positions of authoritythe directors and VPsare committed to making sure their people do the right thing; that they are trained properly, supervised properly, and monitored to make sure theyre doing what theyre supposed to do.

EDITOR: What do you mean by monitored?

WICKLANDER: We are very concerned about growing litigation in the LP industry and in the field of interviewing. We believe that defense lawyers have targeted people who conduct interviews and interrogations. We are aware of several cases in the last few years. Because of this trend, it is crucial that companies make sure they monitor their staffs to ensure theyre doing things the right way.

ZULAWSKI: Doug and I agree. It is essential that companies make sure that whats going on in the interview rooms is proper and that its resistant to attack by attorneys and experts.

[EDITORS NOTE: See Monitoring and Measuring Interviewer Performance.”]

Interviewing the Gurus of InterviewingEDITOR: Both of you have built a great business based on your extensive experience and expertise. Whats left for you to accomplish?

ZULAWSKI: I would like us not to be teaching the same thing in five years that were teaching today if theres a better way we can find to do it. The excitement is in the exploration of new techniques, new ideas, better ways of teaching to get better results, and measuring those results.

WICKLANDER: Let me give you an example. For the first ten years of my career, the only approach I knew and used was the direct confrontation approach. You said to an individual, Our investigation says you did A, B, and C. This obviously causes conflict. In one of the seminars I conducted, an attendee told me he disagreed with this approach. Later, one of this attendees colleagues showed me a different approachand it worked. So one of the things that has made Dave and myself successful is that we know that we dont know it all. We are sponges. We have open eyes and ears. We listen. If theres a better way, we want to know what it is. Thats always fun.

EDITOR: Speaking of fun, talk to us about your families. How have you managed to build a business and balance your personal life?

ZULAWSKI: Like many people, we traveled during the week so there were a lot of things we missed. I have a combined family of five children. My weekends were basically ferrying them to athletic events or school dances or Indian princess events. For me, it was all about being involved with the kids as much as I could when I was at home.

WICKLANDER: The same thing for me. Ive been fortunate to have an understanding wife. As she said at one point, We have two choiceseither accept the travel or not accept it. We worked together and we both accepted it, but it was a lot of work. I have three wonderful grown children. But there are things that you have to do that you would not expect to do. For example, I remember we committed to do training for a retail client in Indianapolis. But when I went through my calendar with my wife, she said, Do you realize thats the father-daughter dinner dance? So, after our seminar at the end of the first day, I drove from Indianapolis to Chicago, went to the father-daughter dinner dance, and drove back to Indianapolis. To this day, its one of my most memorable experiences.

EDITOR: There are some who might say that based on your expertise you might have the curse of a professional interviewer. Youve spent your lives observing behaviors. So has it been hard for your children and friends to fib to you?

WICKLANDER: No, they laugh at us because they know it doesnt work at home.

EDITOR: So many LP executives look back at their careers and think of a few people who have been mentors. Did you have mentors?

ZULAWSKI: I think Doug was my mentor in many things. I knew nothing about business. Doug got to be the president and I got to be the vice president, secretary, and treasurer. Ive learned a lot from him and from people in the industry. Not just one person. People have been so open and generous with their ideas and suggestions.

WICKLANDER: There is no way I can give the names of just a couple of people. As Dave says, there are too many to count. What I think is so special is what a close-knit group of people our industry has. Everybody is willing to exchange ideas.

EDITOR: What are some of the proudest moments in your careers?

ZULAWSKI: Its two things. One is getting a phone call from somebody who has just had a success. That always brings a smile to my face. Secondly, on a more personal level, surprising my high school English teacher by actually publishing a book.

WICKLANDER: I agree with Dave about the success stories and hearing organizations talk about how successful their people are. From a professional standpoint, I am proud of the CFI. We did CFI because we firmly believe we have to raise the bar in our industry. As I mentioned before, theres not just one right way. Thats why the CFI is not Wicklander-Zulawski specific. It certifies an individuals knowledge in the entire subject matter. Its like the CPA for accountants or the CFE for fraud examiners.

EDITORS NOTE: The interview feature in each issue typically focuses on retail executives rather than vendors. While it is true that Wicklander-Zulawski Associates are service providers rather than retailers, we believe they have brought something significant to the industry that deserves recognition. Hopefully, some of their insights in this article will benefit our readers on the retail side in your approach to managing your organization.

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