Chapter 2: Cover Basics Before You Begin
Investigators should begin every interview with a brief introduction that explains the reason for the interview and includes all appropriate disclosures. Normally, the investigator will arrange for a witness to be present to take notes and corroborate evidence. This person’s role should be explained at the outset to put the interviewee at ease. In your opening remarks, it is important to be honest about the purpose of the interview while at the same time respecting the need for confidentiality. For example, an investigator might begin an interview by explaining that the company is investigating certain complaints about unfair treatment towards minorities.
Inform the interviewee that you will make every effort to protect his or her privacy. Explain that information provided to you during the interview will be shared with others only if absolutely necessary. Interviewees should understand that confidentiality will be virtually impossible to maintain in the event that a lawsuit arises and the case proceeds to court; if that happens, additional parties will require copies of all statements and case-related documents.
It is important to make these statements before commencing the interview, as they will likely answer many of the questions the interviewee has on his or her mind. It is also a good idea to ask complainants, subjects and witnesses if they have any questions of their own. Addressing these issues up front, as opposed to dealing with them at the end of the interview, will encourage greater cooperation, which in turn will improve the quality of the interview and the effectiveness of the overall investigation. Here again, your objective is to create an environment in which the interviewee feels free to speak openly and honestly, providing as much detail as possible in his or her responses.