There is no doubt that diversity of staff within your investigation unit will add significant value to your operations. Standardising approaches to interviewing should not diminish or inhibit the capacity of individuals to utilise their own unique experiences, background and perspectives to augment their interview practice.
At IMS we have had the privilege of delivering investigations and investigative interviewing training to multi-national agencies around the world. Diversity in your team could include staff of varying gender, age, race, ethnicity, cultural background, sexual orientation and religion. We are constantly impressed by the eclectic mix of individuals that we meet and the positive energy and passion that different views can create within a team dynamic. What is clear is that a monoculture environment is more likely to inhibit flexibility, innovation and effective practice.
Team diversity is further enhanced when you consider the career backgrounds of staff. Team members often boast extensive professional experience being recruited from such sectors as; law enforcement, compliance, Human Resources and legal backgrounds.
“Innovation, enhanced problem-solving and decision-making are all examples of how depth in diversity can contribute to an effective and productive team environment.”
This diversity and experience can be harnessed to great effect during an investigation. Innovation, enhanced problem-solving and decision-making are all examples of how depth in diversity can contribute to an effective and productive team environment (Cox, 1993). That said, one specific area where our clients actively seek standardised approaches, relates to the planning, conduct and management of investigative interviews.
At IMS we train the use of conversation management, a consistent framework within which interviewers can strategically plan and conduct interviews in any investigative context. The framework is entirely flexible and adapts to encompass a number of different approaches to questioning.
Significantly, conversation management represents an effective and ethical approach to investigative interviewing consistent with a body of applied research. It can enhance the ability of investigators to expose deception through the strategic use of key evidence in cases where interviewees may be inclined to mislead, deceive or otherwise misrepresent the truth.
Diversity is a powerful advantage for your team, but what are the benefits of synchronising approaches to investigative interviewing within a standardised framework such as conversation management?
Advantages of Standardisation of Interview Approach
- Uniform approach to planning – A systematic approach to interview planning means interviewers can develop familiarity and clarity around the purpose, structure and strategy of investigative interviews. Shared understanding means investigators can work collaboratively within interviews, questioning seamlessly towards shared objectives.
- Consistent delineation of interviewer pairs – Vital when working as an interview team, a shared understanding of the interview strategy, allows interviewers to delineate tasks and responsibilities to realise efficiency. Task separation means the interviewee, conversation flow and information, evidence and intelligence can all be managed more effectively.
- Reduction in cognitive inefficiency caused by task duplication and task-switching attrition – A structured and clear plan will aid a solo interviewer to minimise cognitive load and maintain the interview framework and objectives within a dynamic environment. The delineation in tasks between interviewers working as pairs means each will experience reduced cognitive load if there is a clarity of task and purpose. A reduction in cognitive load means interviewers are better able to focus on the core tasks of questioning, active listening and rapport maintenance.
- Synergy in questioning execution – Asking the right questions at the right time is crucial if opportunities to secure information are maximised, resulting in increased levels of accurate and reliable information being obtained.
- Increased effectiveness of the strategic use of evidence – Whether you are working alone or interviewing with a colleague, when working to a consistent interview structure questioning can align at both a strategic and tactical level, resulting in the controlled disclosure of information and evidence. Where this is achieved, the chances of being able to expose deception in investigative interviews increases by up to 30% (Hartwig et al., 2006).
- Supervisory benefits – With a standardised planning methodology in use, interview supervisors are able to feedback interview plans and assess interview outcomes more efficiently.
- Reduced interview times – It is no surprise that consistent planning methodologies are likely to result in objective-based interviews which take less time to complete.
So whilst diversity and the individual character traits of our investigative staff should be celebrated, there are many benefits to standardising approaches to investigative interviewing across your investigation team.
If you would like to learn more about the conversation management framework and how simple it can be to apply across your investigation team, check out our short blog article and planning video demonstration here.
Cox, T. H. (1993). Cultural diversity in organizations: Theory, research and practice. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler.
Hartwig, Maria & Granhag, Pär & Strömwall, Leif & Kronkvist, Ola. (2006). Strategic Use of Evidence during police interviews: When training to detect deception works. Law and Human Behavior. doi 10.1007/s10979-006-9053-9.