W-Z Video: Risks of Leaving Interview Subjects Or Witnesses Alone

I’m Dave Thompson, CFI with Wicklander-Zulawski, and today I want to talk to you about the risks of leaving your subject alone in the interview room. When I say subject, that means it could be the suspect or implicated person. That could be the witness, or that could even be the victim or complainant of some type of crime, fraud, or employee relations issue.

We have to understand that whoever we’re talking to has a ton of emotions going through them as we have this conversation. They’re wondering about, “What are the consequences I might face? What’s gonna happen to the person who committed the wrongdoing?” As people are going through this kind of emotional roller coaster, the last thing I want to do is leave them alone in an emotionally unstable state. In the unfortunate era of workplace violence being a everyday reality, we want to make sure that we have a representative from the company in that conversation, so we can see how that conversation progresses or potentially escalates to a dangerous situation.

Secondly, with every employee having access to a cell phone or some type of mobile device, I want to be aware that if I leave the room, there’s a good chance that that employee is going to contact other people involved in the investigation. They might contaminate future interviews that you might have. They might talk to other witnesses. They might prepare somebody for the questions that you’ve been asking or the information that they’ve already given.

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We need to be aware of these types of risks in today’s world when we leave our employee or subject alone in the interview room. As always, I would defer to your specific company policy or your organizational policy, but make sure you keep those risks in mind during your next conversation. Thanks for tuning in, and we look forward to seeing you again.

This interviewing tip is provided by the International Association of Interviewers.


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