No Time Constraint = Successful Interview

by Paul Francois & Enrique Garcia


The number one reason why investigators fail to get the truth from people during interviews is because they get discouraged and give up. Most interviews end in 30 minutes or less; few rarely last even an hour. The fact is that it takes 30-60 minutes just to establish rapport. In other words, we're just getting warmed up. If we end the interview at that point, we are depriving ourselves of a real opportunity to succeed in obtaining truthful information. We're quitting before we've even really begun.

By nature, cops aren't well known for their patience. And it's not entirely our fault. Most of us start our careers either on street patrol or working in the jail. Our work days are comprised of going from problem to problem, putting out fires. We must bring about an expeditious resolution to one problem, just to quickly leave and get to the next one. Taking our time is a luxury we seldom have.

So when it comes time to handle a complex criminal interview and interrogation, we haven't had an abundance of practice with slowing things down, taking our time, and using time to our complete advantage. Yet, that's exactly what we have to do in the interview room. In order to give ourselves the very best chance of obtaining incriminating truthful information, we must be willing to remain in the room with our suspect for as long as it takes. And it takes a while.

On average, we'll spend about 3 hours in an interview room before we begin obtaining truthful admissions from a culpable suspect. Sure, sometimes it will go more quickly than that, but other times it takes even longer. If we've set our internal clock at a 30 or 60 minute maximum time limit, we're setting ourselves up for failure. The fact is, it takes time to build rapport and trust before a culpable suspect will ultimately make truthful admissions. That doesn't happen in 30-60 minutes. That takes hours. Consider this - military intelligence personnel will interview prisoners over a period of days, weeks, and even months. There's a good reason for that - it's what is required before the subject becomes comfortable enough to reveal facts he's previously concealed.

At the end of the day, just remember this - even if you're not the best interviewer in your department, you can put yourself in a position of complete advantage if you're willing to stay in the interview room until you achieve the desired results. Sheer determination puts you ahead of the game and is your best chance of success!