Interview and Interrogation Training: Risks of Being Too Specific

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, wants to talk about one of the most common mistakes he’s seen recently by individuals using the WZ method: being overly specific in the introductory statement.

The term “overly specific” in this context refers to discussing things like those in Step 4, when we’re supposed to list several different ways that the subject could have committed a crime.

If our subject has taken money out of the register, we’re going to list a variety of different ways they could have taken money from the company. We’re also going to list a variety of ways they could have taken merchandise from the company.

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We’re going to do this in a non-confrontational manner, meaning we’re not accusing, we’re not going to use the word “you,” and we’re not going to personalize those examples.

What I often hear, however, is somebody in the interview giving too many specific details about the one crime or one act we know about.

Even in Step 5, when we talk about different tools and resources, it should be in a general format, touching only on what’s available to investigators. If we talk too specifically, and we talk about that one camera above that one register in that one location… Now we’re probably going to elicit a denial from our subject because now they know exactly what this is about. It then turns into a confrontation, and it turns emotional.

Instead, we want to keep this non-confrontational. It minimizes the likelihood of denials. It also allows your subject to start to determine the scope of your investigation might be bigger than just that one incident that they actually thought you knew about.

It’s important, when you strategize your introductory statement, that we keep it non-confrontational and general enough to get the optimal way for you to get the most amount of truth from that conversation.

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 or for additional information.

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