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Interviewing is somerthing that requires training and practice. It is not something you can pick up by watching a TV cop show.
Or old war movies I might add. I was helping on an Investigators Training course about a decade ago and took part in an interview exercise. Roleplaying the witness I was suddenly surrounded by a group of five investigators each shouting out questions at me. I was sat whilst they were standing and I have expecetd them to have a spotlight and Gestapo uniforms.
Interviewing is a skill that needs practice.
I'm an experienced interviewer and interviewee. As an interviewer, if you're dealing with an inexperienced interviewee, someone who is not use to being questioned, it can relatively easy to get them to give the answers you want. Now, for what I interview people for (media, interviews, publicity, etc) that's fine because they are trying to get a message out there and I know how best to get that over to my audience. But if I was interviewing a witness and had in my head that it was great Aunt Gladys who was doing the haunting, I could orientate the interview to supporting my view, so there has to be as little bias as possible.
I suggest that the best way of achieving this is to follow the interview protocols that are commonly follwed in psychology. I won't go into them here, but I think they are available from the American Psychology Association. These lay down a lot of best practice which could be usually adopted by investigators. In terms of questionning witnesses, it's suggested that questions are drawn up in advance, where possible - doesn't eliminate bias, but can go some way to cutting it down.
I have had extensive training in interviewing witnesses and suspects - The key to either is to have no agenda and follow whatever agenda is given by the witness/suspect. In order to extract the best simply nod or give prompting NVC's along with the odd 'Uh huh', 'Go on', 'And then...' etc. This combined with open questioning will always produce answers of their own making if they are going to give any at all and will be shown not to be tainted by any account you previously have.
Sound advice Dave!
A weight of awe, not easy to be bourne,
Fell suddenly upon my spirit - cast
From the dread bosom of the unknown past
When first I saw that family forlorn.. Read More »