November 5, 2021 | Barb Carr

Let’s Talk Turkey: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Investigation Interviews

U.S. historical accounts suggest that “talk turkey” referred to the bartering between colonists and Indians over wild turkeys. Over time, the phrase “let’s talk turkey” evolved to mean “let’s speak frankly.” As Thanksgiving approaches, it’s easy to get distracted by the turkey. And the cranberry sauce. And the pumpkin pie. But let’s talk frankly a moment about investigation interviews!

Are you approaching investigation interviews the same way every time hoping for a different result? Stop the insanity! Below, are five things to think about when you conduct an interview to help break that cycle.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Investigation Interviews

  1. Building rapport is one of the most effective ways to build trust with a witness. Investing five or ten minutes building rapport at the beginning of the interview will dramatically improve the quantity and quality of information you can gather from a witness.
  2. You can’t tell whether someone is lying or not from body language, but understanding body language will help you discern whether or not the witness feels comfortable or uncomfortable with his/her statement. Noticing these body language cues will help you guide the interview effectively.
  3. When a witness says he/she can’t remember something, it may be in his/her memory but he/she is using an ineffective retrieval method to find it. Cognitive interview skills will help you structure the interview in such a way that it helps facilitate memory retrieval. We teach this in the TapRooT® 12-Step Interview Process.
  4. There is a simple way to help someone remember more about an incident, and this method is sometimes used to spot a lie. Have the witness tell the story of what they witnessed backwards! Telling a story backwards causes a more difficult cognitive load on the brain, so if the witness is lying, they will trip up over the sequential order of events.
  5. Taking notes during an interview can make an interviewee nervous, but there is a simple way around that. Assure the witness at the beginning of the interview that you will be taking notes, and at the end of the interview, you will allow them to review the notes with you. (Don’t forget to actually allow them to review the notes at the end!)

Interviewing is just one way you can gather information in an incident investigation. One common question we are asked is: “What if the witness won’t provide information?” The good news is that there are other ways to gather evidence besides interviewing.

Learn Evidence Collection for Incident Investigations Online

With just a 3-4 hour investment of time, you can improve your evidence collection skills in our self-guided, online course. Once you register for virtual training, you have ten days to complete the course according to your schedule.

Come away with the knowledge and skills required to collect evidence and conduct effective interviews during an incident investigation. Learn more about identifying nonverbal cues too. Visit: TapRooT® Evidence Collection & Investigative Interviewing Techniques>>

Interviewing & Evidence Collection
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