5 Never to Forget Guidelines on Handling Difficult Employees during an Investigation

Author: Teri Morning
More than a couple of books and watching TV shows, investigators undergo specific training in criminal investigation and employee investigations. An investigator must consciously avoid false first impressions. A corporate investigator must develop a behavioral baseline and observe “normal” responses at the beginning of the interview. For this they must ask 5 to 7 simple questions that could be answered truthfully at the beginning. Look for changes from the behavioral baseline, do not just assume.
1. Things to be Observed while Investigating
People are not recorders, they could forget things. Ask about their routine events. All experiences trickle through our personal history. These experiences could be altered according to our relationship with that person. For better or worse, give people some time to answer. Minimum 8 seconds. Ask the question in a different way. Read narrative back to person.
2. Dealing with Selective Memories vs. Human Forgetfulness
People are not recorders, they could forget things. Ask about their routine events. All experiences trickle through our personal history. These experiences could be altered according to our relationship with that person. For better or worse, give people some time to answer. Minimum 8 seconds. Ask the question in a different way. Read narrative back to person.
3. Finding out whether Facts are Omitted Purposefully
Just let witnesses you believe to be untruthful carry on with the talk. The more details someone gives you, the more likely you will catch contradictions. The more details you let an untruthful witness give you, the more they think you believe them. Get the narrative pinned down. Repeat it back. Then start clarifying the contradictions. Ask about events out of order. Be aware, the mood may suddenly get very hostile.
4. Handling Malicious False Complaint
Malicious false complaint is a deliberate and purposeful attempt to gain advantage through the misinformation of a knowingly false complaint. Merely being wrong is not a malicious complaint. A corporate investigator must ask tricky questions to decipher whether a complaint is genuine or malicious. If this could not be solved then the entire time on investigation would prove to be useless.
5. Inferring and Untangling the Web of Deception
Deception is about creating and/or maintaining misleading impressions. This can also involve the deliberate withholding of relevant information. Deception can be “active” or “passive.” Don’t try to get slick and bust an investigatory TV Mentalist move, pay close attention, and ask good questions. Often, the more “at-risk” the witness is, the more inclined he or she may be to deceive. Telling a witness you think he or she is lying doesn't help. Most accused don’t break down and confess their guilt as in TV shows. Take very good notes, the better to catch a contradiction. Beware deliberate, methodical, well practiced answers often with supporting evidence that are more an agenda with a means to an end. Especially when offered up at odd moments.

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