The Interview Environment

By Paul Francois & Enrique Garcia

All of us have visited friends and family at their home. Usually, we’re quite comfortable. We know where everything is. But how about when you visit the home of someone you’ve just met – things tend to be a little different, right? We’re more concerned about proper etiquette and respecting their privacy. We usually ask for permission to use the bathroom in addition to asking where it is located. When we’re with friends and family, we’re a bit more free and relaxed. And when we’re in our OWN house, well, we’re really at ease.

It’s no different when we’re interviewing people in the course of one of our investigations. If we choose to interview them at their home or place of work, we are at a distinct disadvantage. They have total physical and psychological control in such an environment. If they want to answer their phone, get themselves something to eat, discipline their children, answer the doorbell, go to the bathroom – they just do it. And there’s not too much we can do about that, especially since we’re on their turf. The potential distractions are too numerous to count. It’s even easier for them to tell us to leave and get out of their house. We face every disadvantage in such an environment, especially the concern for our own safety.

On the other hand, if we interview people at a location within our control (like a properly designed interview room at your facility), we regain control of all of the above factors and more. We now have the physical and psychological advantage. It’s much more difficult for people to do as they please in “someone else’s house.” We can ensure our privacy and that we are free from distractions. We can ensure that the environment is calm, quiet, and lends itself to the conditions right for someone to let down their guard and provide truthful information.

The environment is a vital factor to determine our likelihood of success in the ensuing interview and interrogation. It’s that important. No phones, no interruptions, no distractions. If you haven’t been practicing this essential key ingredient for success, you’ll want to add this to your tool box.