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Interview Room Design

The environment, more than any other factor, will predetermine an interviewer’s likelihood of success. When interviewing subjects (victims, witnesses and suspects), the location of the interview is VERY important. Whenever possible, we should be interviewing people on “our turf,” that is, in an interview room at our facility. The ideal interview room is a small room (approximately 10 x 10 feet) with only a table and two or three chairs. There should be no pictures, no windows, no phone, and no distractions. We are aiming for a calm, private, and of critical importance – a safe setting that will enable the subject to provide difficult information.

Arrange the room for success.  Sit the person at one corner of the room, facing the door.  You should sit facing the subject with the door behind you. Do not place a table between you and the subject. When you place a subject on the opposite side of the table, you will miss 50 – 75% of their body language.  You should always be able to observe the subject’s entire body – head to toe.  The easiest way to accomplish this is to place yourself and the subject at the corner of the table, at a 45 degree angle. Having a table allows you to place “props” at some point during the interrogation phase.  For example, audio/video tapes, case folders, boxes containing physical or implied evidence, etc.

Sometimes we have no choice but to interview people at their home, their job, or a public location. Just understand that we are at a disadvantage in such environments. If this is the case, always go with a partner and ask the subject to speak with you outside their house or office, adjacent to or in your car.  The key here is to increase your safety and have better control of a foreign environment. Whenever possible, give yourself the strategic edge by choosing an environment over which you have total physical and psychological control.

Paul & Enrique have been team teaching Interviewing & Interrogation together since 1997. They are the principals of Third Degree Communications, Inc.

  • Instructional style is engaging and highly effective.

    —George Laing, Fire Prevention Captain, Investigator
  • I highly recommend this training for any Probation staff who have the necessity to interview/interrogate individuals for investigation purposes.

    —R. Bret Fidler, Santa Clara County Probation Department
  • Your training gave me the confidence and tools to interview the suspect for over 5 hours and to bring a closure to the case.

    —Daniel Phelan, San Jose Police Department
  • This training provided the useful tools necessary for assessing the veracity of a suspected child abuser, which goes a long way in helping to protect children.

    —Sunny Burgan, MSSW, LCSW, Social Work Supervisor, Santa Clara County DFCS
  • It not often that you go to a training that you really, really want to pay attention to. Because of the high quality information and style of presentation, I knew that if I looked away I was going to miss out.

    —Quinten Graves, Oregon State Police
  • Your training has made the greatest and most direct impact on my assignment of any training class that I've taken.

    —Ken Gelskey, National City Police Department
  • Incredible training with amazing real world instruction. I have been taking law enforcement classes for over 30 years and by far this is the best presented and most useful.

    —Det. Brian Dale, Portland Police Bureau
  • This was, by far, one of the most useful training classes I've attended since becoming an investigator.

    —Steven Aiello, Antioch Police Department
  • Effective teaching teams! The presentation of the material was consistently interesting, and intelligent without being too intellectualized.

    —Michele Keller, Deputy Probation Officer, County of Alameda
  • The information presented was highly relevant to my job and was presented in a manner that was organized and very easy to digest.

    —Michael McGarvey, California State Prison, San Quentin
  • I will continue to use and pass on this information because I really believe in the instructors and their approach.

    —Kimberly Meyer, Washoe County Sheriff's Department