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Effective Interview and Investigation Questioning

  • In advance of each investigation interview it is important that the main areas that need to be questioned and explored are identified and that the interview is structured.
  • Generally open questions should be used to get information (Who, What, Why, When, How etc).
  • Always probe and move from generalities to specifics  -  "Tell me exactly what happened that day? "  "Can you tell me more about what happened" " Can you give me a specific example of what exactly you mean when you say that she was totally unhelpful to you" "Describe how you felt when it happened".
  • Closed questions that have Yes or No answers are less useful but there are times when they may be used to confirm specific facts or accounts.
  • Leading questions that could influence the interviewee or suggest a bias on behalf of the investigator should not be used: e.g." Did you not think that this was a bad idea?" " Are you sure there wasn't a misunderstanding?"
  • Summarise often to ensure that you have understood correctly what is being said but don't judge " Let me make sure I understand you were angry because you felt your colleague should have done more on the day of the conference?".
  • If you don't understand responses, clarify what is being said by the interviewee.
  • Ensure that notes are typed up as quickly as possible after meetings and issued for review and sign off  in line with the Terms of Reference.

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