Stefanie Hoover on CFI Benefits Beyond the Title

Have you seen those holiday car commercials featuring people giving themselves the gift of a car? They are constantly on TV and in my opinion, they seem a little creepy. I get what they are trying to do—it’s mildly amusing, and sometimes it does feel nice to give yourself a gift. However, I’m not sure that a new car is in the cards for everyone. If you are thinking of giving yourself a gift this holiday, may I suggest the gift of the CFI designation? Buy the online course and make a promise to yourself that you’ll study and take the test, because this truly is a gift that keeps on giving.

“What’s in it for me?” you ask? I’ve pulled together some food for thought to go with your holiday meal, starting with my two cents.

As a solution provider, it lends instant credibility. Most retailers know how much work it takes to pass the CFI exam and appreciate that I can understand at least part of their worldview. Plus, reading body language and being in tune with the person opposite me can really help move a conversation in the right direction.

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Membership in this group has allowed me opportunities to meet some amazing people. For the past several years, I have volunteered as a member of the International Association of Interviewers (IAI) Midwest Chapter. I truly enjoy working with this team, and they all give their time selflessly. I asked this group of diverse professionals how the CFI has helped them in their leadership roles or in working together with teams. Here are some different takes on what the CFI has done to help my peers throughout their careers.

“I think the biggest thing the CFI has added for me from a leadership perspective is the networking and partnerships that have arisen out of my involvement with the IAI Midwest Chapter. I leverage these on a weekly basis, and they have been critical in assisting our field team on some key investigations. I anticipated that being involved with the chapter would help promote the IAI and CFI brands and encourage more discipline in interviewing though continuing education. What I didn’t anticipate was the personal growth that I would get out of my time as Chair!” – Tim Lapinski, CFI, LPC, Divisional Vice President of Enterprise Risk Management, Helzberg Diamonds

“Having received my CFI certification has proven to be very beneficial to me both from an individual standpoint as well as a leader within my LP department. Personally, I utilize the many tools that are provided to us to continue to better myself as a loss prevention manager. From a company standpoint, having CFI status has afforded me the opportunity to participate in stretch assignments and act as a group leader on different projects within our department.” – Jodie McDonald, CFI, LPC, District Loss Prevention and Safety Manager, Office Depot

“The CFI designation has made me a resource for my team and peers. I often field pre- and post-interview questions and get asked to help quarterback interview planning. I decided to study for and sit for the CFI exam during a time I wasn’t even working, and it helped me be my own leader. I found the structure and routine around the studying aspect, like the book list and prep course, helped me maintain focus and discipline as I looked for work.” – Jay Ganal, CFI, CORCI, Loss Prevention Manager, Athleta / Banana Republic / Gap

“The CFI has allowed me to have credible expertise as it relates to interviewing. My leadership has called me to mentor others, and the team feels comfortable calling me with questions and asking for advice.” – Deanna Lawton, CFI, Senior Investigator, Corporate Security – Loss Prevention, Verizon Wireless

“I had spent just over 29 years in law enforcement prior to obtaining my Certified Forensic Interviewer designation. Many people wonder why, at the end of a career, would a person want to go through the rigorous educational and testing process necessary to receive this designation? My response: This certification validates my entire career as a police officer and detective. Many people have achieved the same experience, knowledge and training as I, but cannot point to any official record of this. The Certified Forensic Interviewer certification documents a person’s knowledge of the lawful and proper way to conduct an interview. Obtaining the CFI certification also rekindled my passion for passing on the wisdom and knowledge gained over an entire career in the art of interviewing. Professionals possessing the Certified Forensic Interviewer certification associate with other professionals who possess the same certification. Together, they take a leadership role in the art of interviewing, attending and conducting seminars and guiding others who have a desire to conduct interviews in a lawful, respectful and competent manner.” – Thomas F. McGreal, CFI, Detective, Chicago Police Department (retired), Instructor, Wicklander-Zulawski

“As a manager to a team of investigators, going through the process of obtaining the CFI designation increased my knowledge and confidence to better coach and inspire their dedication to growth in interviewing. Personally for me as a leader, having the CFI designation has not only given me a strong sense of accomplishment in my professional development, it has given me pride in knowing that I’m part of a group of professionals that have the same common goal of continual growth in the evolution of interviewing.” – Carrie Baritsky, CFI, Senior Loss Prevention Investigator, TJMaxx

In closing, I wanted to include this quote from a friend who is incredibly passionate about what the CFI can do for an LP professional:

“My department is a huge proponent of the CFI certification. From the onset of hiring a new employee and sending them to their first W-Z class, it is understood that achieving the CFI is a huge career goal. We build our team to strive for this certification as it instills confidence and credibility among our team members in their ability to deliver an interview. As soon as they meet the required level of experience, we have them prep and sit for the CFI exam. There are few things in this profession more rewarding than receiving that first phone call from an interviewer who has just sat for the exam and hearing them yell, “I passed!” In that moment, I can almost envision that person raising their arms above their head with the biggest smile on their face like they’ve just won an Olympic event. I only wish that our entire team was there to celebrate that moment with them. The next best thing is being able to announce to the rest of our team that we have our newest member to the CFI club. Seeing our team congratulate and praise that person on their achievement knowing all the hard work they put into it is rewarding for all of us. The CFI builds a team dynamic and it builds a positive confident spirit within our department.” – Carmen DuBose, CFI, LPC, Regional Vice President of Asset Protection, Hibbett Sports

Can you feel the passion with these folks? If you are debating whether you should go through the studying and sit for the test, or you’re trying to decide if you even have the time, feel free to reach out to me, Carmen, or anyone on the various IAI boards. We’d be happy to talk to you about the benefits. The CFI is guaranteed to have longer lasting impact than a new car with a big red bow on top.

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