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Handling Rejection

A lot of what we do in the interview room is very similar to sales. Except, we’re not selling a product – we’re selling a concept. The concept is to motivate the person being interviewed to tell us the truth. The problem is it can be very difficult to reach the point of hearing the truth. And before we get to the truth, we’re going to face an abundance of denial and rejection from the person we’re interviewing. How should we handle that?

The first thing we need to recognize is that it is impossible to achieve a 100% confession rate. Roughly 10% of the population will never confess for a variety of reasons. However, this does not mean we throw in the towel whenever we are interviewing someone who’s not going along with the program. Statistically, we should realize that the odds are in our favor if we do our jobs correctly. But we must also recognize that we’re not going to succeed in each and every interview and that’s okay.

Another way to overcome the rejection is to continually remind ourselves what it takes to succeed. For example, the longer we stay in the interview room with a person, the greater our chances of success. That’s a fact. Simply outlasting them is one of the ways we overcome their resistance. We should expect the subject to deny his involvement in the alleged crime – that’s his job! We have a game plan to overcome that with themes and persistence. Try not to be discouraged by his denials. CAUTION: If someone invokes their right to silence, requests an attorney, or simply wants to leave and they are not under arrest, then we must end the interview. The key is to keep the interview voluntary.

Most of us conducting interviews consider ourselves hunters. We hunt for the truth and we seek out bad guys. We are competitive. We don’t like to lose and feel a sense of disappointment or even embarrassment when we fail to obtain the truth from someone we know is lying. But ask any sales person and he will tell you that rejection is part of the sales process. We should always analyze our performance and ask ourselves what it was we said or did that caused the person interviewed to tell us or not tell us the truth. We need to be mindful of our verbal and non-verbal communication so that we project a non-judgmental demeanor. The more critical we are about our performance, the better interviewers we will become. The way we handle rejection will play a huge role in our ability to achieve continued success.


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