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The Interview Environment

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.

  • 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
  • Your class 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
  • ...Provides 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
  • The information that they have presented is highly relevant to my job, and was presented in a manner that was highly organized and very easy to digest.

    —Michael McGarvey, California State Prison, San Quentin
  • 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
  • You two are an effective teaching team, and your presentation of the material was consistently interesting, and intelligent without being too intellectualized.

    —Michele Keller, Deputy Probation Officer, County of Alameda
  • This was, by far, one of the most useful classes I've attended since becoming an investigator.

    —Steven Aiello, Antioch Police Department
  • Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to attend the Interview and Interrogation training presented by Paul Francois and Enrique Garcia.

    —Todd Almason, Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office
  • Your class 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
  • Your instructional style is engaging and your tag-team style is highly effective.

    —George Laing, Fire Prevention Captain, Investigator