One of the most overlooked aspects of the Interview & Interrogation process is the introduction. When you first meet your subject, how should you behave? What do you say to him or her? It can be awkward and uncomfortable, so here are a few suggestions to simplify things at the very beginning.
Getting the Subject to Your Facility
As we’ve always emphasized, the location more than any other factor will predetermine your likelihood of success in the interview. Because you want the subject on “your turf,” you have to convince him to come to you. Before bringing up the location of the interview, we suggest pinning your subject down to a date and time. We say things like, “What works better for you – mornings or afternoons? Mondays or Wednesdays?” After we establish a date and time, we ask the subject, “Do you know how to get to the police department?” If he says, “Yes,” we tell him we’ll see him at the specified date and time. If he says, “No,” we provide directions.
Once the subject arrives at your facility, greet her in a friendly and sincere manner. It is important to be yourself and not be over the top trying to present yourself in some particular way. We suggest a respectful, professional greeting accompanied by a handshake. Again, we’re looking for warm and friendly, but not phony. No two handed, crusher, or limp handshakes.
Start Building Rapport
Rapport begins when we first make contact with the subject. It is imperative to treat people, even the most vile of suspects, with dignity and respect. People seek approval and this is demonstrated in your tone, demeanor, and non-verbal behavior. We attempt to establish a first name basis with people right away, abandoning our own title and rank. We are simply “Paul” and “Enrique.” This begins removing barriers and starts the rapport building process.
Making Small Talk
As we accompany the subject to the interview room, we usually ask him whether he had any trouble getting here or finding parking. Any recent events in the news usually make good conversation starters – the Giants winning the World Series, the end of Daylight Savings Time, or a recent catastrophe somewhere in the world are easy places to begin. We are setting a relaxed, informal tone, that will gradually dissipate as we move into the interrogation phase – but that’s another article!
Once you’ve got your subject into the interview room, you know you have an easy place to continue by utilizing the Personal History Questionnaire. For a copy of our Personal History Questionnaire and other forms, email us at [email protected].
By Paul Francois & Enrique Garcia
Paul & Enrique have been team teaching Interviewing & Interrogation together since 1997. They are the principals of Third Degree Communications, Inc.