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The Industry Standard for Investigative Interviewing: Resources and Training

One of the most important skillsets for those in the loss prevention industry is the ability to strategically communicate with others. Daily encounters with operators, vendors, shoplifters, and employees require LP professionals to prepare, adapt, and implement different communication strategies. Wicklander-Zulawski (WZ) and the International Association of Interviewers (IAI) are proud to be a long- standing resource for the industry on how to best craft these conversations and approaches. Each of these organizations offer unique opportunities for professionals to learn new skillsets, network with others in the industry, and expand their knowledge base for both personal and professional development.

The team at WZ has offered support and training to the interviewing profession for over forty years through multiple venues. Difficult conversations, including employee-relations issues, internal theft or fraud, organized retail crime investigations, or conversations with operators are covered in a variety of training programs and resources provided by WZ. Many investigators in the industry have learned how to conduct these conversations and investigative interviews while “on the job.” It is important to recognize that interviewing is a professional skillset which requires continued education, standardized approaches, and a structure based on science, law, and ethics. WZ helps to fulfill this mission for interviewing professionals as we are engaged with the academic community and legislative efforts while consistently evolving our curriculum to deliver the most current content to our audience.

WZ has programs that LP practitioners can attend including a Level One course that lays the foundation for an interviewer needing a certificate of attendance and knowledge on how to conduct investigative interviews. Additionally, there are programs including a Level Two Practical Application Workshop, Level Three Advanced trainings, Masterclasses, and the Certified Forensic Interviewer (CFI) preparation course. WZ also provides those in the industry several virtual options, including webinars on topics like remote interviewing, organized retail crime, and de-escalation. WZ’s courses and resources offer continuing education units for those that have industry designations such as the CFI or LPC certifications.

The International Association of Interviewers (IAI)

After over 4 decades of providing industry leading training for the investigative interviewing industry the founders of WZ recognized there was also a need to create a community where interviewers from all over the world could come together to learn from one another. This prompted the creation of the IAI, and for the last twenty years, has served as the space where interviewers can access industry leading educational resources, attend top-tier networking engagements, and position themselves to advance their careers. Educate, network, and advance have been the bedrock tenants of IAI and will continue to drive the association forward in providing members with the tools necessary to be informed and successful in their roles.

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Providing accessible opportunities for continuing education is a standard that both WZ and IAI have maintained as a priority since the beginning. This commitment to education is what drives the IAI member experience by providing access to member exclusive events throughout the year, including the Elite Training Event Webinar Series, Case Study Webinars, IAI Book Club Experiences, and our annual in-person Elite Training Day (ETD) conference. Each of these events brings together industry leaders across multiple verticals including loss prevention, human resources, law enforcement, and academia, to share their best practices and relevant research, with the goal of enhancing the member practitioners’ skillsets.

IAI’s Elite Training Days

A culmination of networking and continued education is seen annually at the ETD conference. This event brings together elite interviewers from across multiple industries to collaborate and learn from experts on topics that impact their profession. Law enforcement, loss prevention, human resources, and others have benefited from these conferences for more than ten years.

Why would some of the most skilled interviewers from across the country attend an event focused on developing their interviewing skills? Because the most skilled interviewers from across the country understand the importance of continuing to develop and fine‑tune their interviewing skills. The best interviewers know that there is always more to learn—more they can experience, absorb, and pass on to others. Proficiency is something we build upon, not a plateau we reach.

ETD creates an opportunity for interviewing professionals to get together and learn from one another. While the conference has grown and the reach has expanded, the goal remains the same: to provide interviewing professionals with a place to learn and network. We bring everyone together to provide a credible atmosphere where investigative interviewers from all verticals and tenures can get together to improve their skill sets. The conference is built on the idea that sharing knowledge with a small group of leaders will have an exponential impact on performance in the field.

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Each year IAI brings new perspectives to the interviewing process, offering unique profiles and complex scenarios to challenge the way we approach the process and those we speak with. This event has consisted of sessions delivered by leading academics, practitioners, and investigators from across the globe.

From influencing policy to promoting evidence-based training protocol, ETD is designed to challenge those tasked with one of the most delicate aspects of any job—conducting investigative interviews—to never become complacent. The objective is to always challenge the way investigative interviews are conducted while providing the tools to make informed improvements.

While the event is tailored for those who work in the investigative interviewing community, there are many other fields that can benefit from this type of event. There is also a common misunderstanding that you must be a CFI to attend the event and while we encourage all CFIs to attend, it is certainly not a requirement.

Topics are intended to both focus and stretch the perspective of attendees to maximize value. Sessions have included case studies on serial killers, international interviewing methods, false confessions, juvenile interrogations, and workplace violence. For those passionate about advancing their skillset and scope of knowledge, this is the event to attend.

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For an added challenge, WZ offers a Masterclass that is partnered up with ETD to provide an in‑depth training program specific to WZ methodology.

ETD provides a unique opportunity to learn from the best minds in the industry while doing so in a fun, engaging, and collaborative environment. We want people to walk away with a new perspective, feeling recharged and inspired to promote evidence-based interviewing practices within their respective fields. Our hope is that attendees leave feeling equipped with new outlooks and techniques that help them become more successful in their roles as investigative interviewers.

Certified Forensic Interviewer (CFI)

In addition to the various virtual and in-person events offered, IAI has also developed and maintains the CFI credential. The CFI is the leading designation within the investigative interviewing community, standing as a symbol of ethical, legal, and industry competence above any other investigative interviewing certification.

While the process of obtaining the CFI is an arduous one, the payoff is worth the time and effort invested. IAI provides prospective CFIs with the resources to adequately prepare for the exam through a variety of platforms, both in-person and virtual. Virtually, applicants are encouraged to utilize the CFI Online Preparation Guide as a roadmap to getting prepared for the exam. If the applicant prefers face‑to‑face instruction, IAI also hosts CFI Prep Seminars, both in‑person and virtually, to accommodate a wide range of learners.

Passion for Learning

Why would someone consider joining an organization like the IAI? While all the events, member resources, and networking opportunities may sound

appealing—it all comes down to what level of commitment the professional is willing to put forward. Are you willing to take an hour out of your schedule to engage in a live case study webinar covering a multi-million‑dollar Ponzi scheme investigation? Are you interested in participating in a virtual book club experience that culminates in a live webinar with the author? Are you interested in advancing your career by earning the status of CFI? At IAI, we believe that when the learning stops, the problems begin. Our mission is to provide the investigative interviewing community with a continuous flow of credible educational experiences that will enhance the current generation and inspire the next.

When looking at the options for career and professional development, there is no shortage of opportunities in the loss prevention industry. However, for those that are focused on improving the results of their investigations and developing stronger communication skills, WZ and IAI are the industry standard resources. Attending the ETD conference, WZ classes, or even remote events will give loss prevention professionals access to interviewers across multiple sectors of law enforcement, retail, federal agencies, and other verticals. WZ and IAI provide consistent resources for a specialty skillset of communication and interviewing that has been the catalyst of career growth for loss prevention professionals over the last decades.

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