The art of interviewing during a workplace investigation
A key element of a proper workplace investigation is giving everyone the opportunity to share their side of the story in detail, without being pushed or prompted to one direction or another.
As investigators, that means asking the right questions to draw out the information from the individual being interviewed. That complete perspective will help you learn the facts of the situation and the impact of the circumstance on those involved.
Yes-or-no questions have their place and are useful for confirming fact-based information; however they don’t get to the root of the matter and allow an investigator to really grasp the situation.
The initial part of the conversation is the opportunity to allow the interviewee to offer in-depth answers and not feel like their answers are being constrained by your perspective or a timeline. Ignore the clock and let the individual share their story. If you are struggling to get answers, shift the way you’re asking the question.
Here are some simple adjustments that might help.
- Instead of “Did you…”, try “How did you…”
- Instead of “Is it possible you felt…”, try “Explain how you felt when this happened.”
- Instead of “Are you…”, try “Tell me about…”
Once you’ve heard the general overview of the situation, you can then ask more specific questions based on what you are hearing, allowing you to get to the root of the issue.
Consider your tone
Asking questions is more than just the words you’re saying, it’s also about the tone you’re using to ask the question. Finding a balance between being interested and engaged in the conversation but not over-empathetic is something many investigators struggle with.
Your role is to remain calm and neutral.
Implying through tone that you don’t care, disagree or aren’t engaged in the conversation will only hurt the investigation and the information you hope to gain from the interview. On the flip side, if your tone is too empathetic, it can also taint the entire investigation and imply that you’re taking sides.
A transparent, diligent investigation means giving everyone involved the proper space to share their story. Through open-ended questions and a neutral tone, you can learn more information and get a clearer understanding of what really happened, allowing you to form a more informed decision at the end of the day.
Looking to learn more about conducting a proper investigation? Learn more about our training opportunities here.