October 19, 2020 | Barb Carr

4 Incident Investigation Interviewing Mistakes that are Haunting Investigators

This time of year, it’s all fun and games until someone is haunted by investigation interviewing mistakes! It’s especially challenging when the interviewee sits across from you staring blankly, offering very little information. However, with a little pre-planning, interviews feel much more manageable. Following are four tips that are easy to incorporate into your process.

4 Incident Investigation Interviewing Mistakes

  1. Being unprepared. Coming across as disorganized sets a negative tone for the entire interview. Construct a timeline of events that led to the incident and read the witness statement beforehand so you know how to guide the interview.
  2. Not structuring the Interview properly. Structure the interview so that you first offer a friendly greeting and build rapport. Then explain the interview process, and then ask questions. Don’t jump straight into questions!
  3. Firing questions. When it is time to ask questions, firing off a list of questions is a sure way to shut the interview down. Instead, the first question should be, “Tell me from start to finish what you observed the day of the incident. Take your time.” Then, sit back and let them tell the story. Follow-up with questions after.
  4. Not listening. An interview is more about listening and taking notes than asking questions. Focus on what the witness is saying so you don’t miss important information. Listening skills are more important in an interview than developing “the right” questions.

Interviewing is just one way you can gather information for effective root cause analysis. If you don’t have good information collected, then your investigation will fall short of identifying the real root causes. If you are noticing repeat incidents at your facility, it’s worth re-evaluating the strength of your evidence collection methods.

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

Come away with the knowledge and skills required to collect evidence and conduct effective interviews during an incident investigation. Learn more about our self-guided online training: TapRooT® Evidence Collection & Investigative Interviewing Techniques>>

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Interviewing & Evidence Collection
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