Interview And Interrogation
Interview And Interrogation
Danno Hanks (Private Investigator) gives expert video advice on: What interview and interrogation techniques do private investigators use?; What is the 'direct' approach?; What is the 'incentive' approach? and more...
What interview and interrogation techniques do private investigators use?
The most common interview and interrogation technique that I use is the friendly conversation approach. I find that when you try to be confrontational that you don't get as much information as you want. You try to act like you are there to help them. That is always a lie because you're not actually there to help them. You're there to help your client and to find out what the truth is, but that's the position you want to take with them. You want to just clear this matter up. If that doesn't work, then you shift to, "Well, I know that you are involved, but I don't think you're involved in this as much as some other people. If you help us out on this, we might be able to help you". Then, the third level is when they're really stonewalling and you say, "You realize you can go to jail for this", and point all the negative things that could happen to them if they don't cooperate with you. Many times, somebody is just a hard ass. They're not going to tell you anything, but usually 90% of all the information you want to gather can be gathered through one of those three techniques, either friendly conversation or giving them a way out or a mild threat as to what could possibly happen to them if they didn't cooperate with you.
What is the 'direct' approach?
I've found that when you use the direct approach, everybody has their own agenda and they're not always going to tell you what the truth is. You're better off asking the questions in a setting or situation where they don't know that they're being interrogated. You run into them in a bar or restaurant or whatever, in a neutral location, and you strike up a conversation. What you weave into your conversation are questions that you need answered, and you do it in such a way that it just sounds like chit chat. You'll get more truthful answers than you would if you walked up and flipped out your ID and said, "I'm an investigator. I need to talk to you."
What is the 'incentive' approach?
The incentive approach is probably the most successful. People are always interested in a cash reward or any other kind of reward for their information. If the information is no sweat off their back, they'll give it up, because they're looking for that monetary incentive. Sometimes the reward will be that they aren't going to jail if they tell you and that's a big incentive. "You know if you talk to me now, we can probably keep you from having to testify in court or we can probably keep you from being arrested for this."
What is the 'emotional' approach?
When you're working an investigation you always want to empathize with the position that the person you're talking to is taking. I've had times where I know the stuff coming out of my mouth is not me at all. I have talked to, I was working cases in the south where I acted like a total racist, talking to a guy who is a racist. Because right away he thinks you're one of him. When he asked what the guy was wanted for I said oh, well, child molesting. He wasn't wanted for child molesting, but right away the person went "I'll tell you where that son of a bitch is", because it was something like a universal thing that every person, with some exceptions, finds offensive and so they are willing to help you. If you are talking to somebody who has been cheated on before and they felt bad about what happened to them, you put your client in a position of having had that happen to them. They start remembering what it was like when it happened to them and they start giving up because they empathize with what you're saying. That's an emotional approach. They other is, I know you didn't mean to do it but I realize you probably did it out of love or that sort of thing. You try to tell them exactly what they want to hear as to what their reasons were for doing whatever they did, and then they believe you understand them.
What is the 'fear' approach?
The fear approach is basically telling them what the possibilities; what things might happen to them if they don't provide you the information that you need. And it doesn't necessarily mean that you are going to jail. You might say to them, "You know it's very important that we get this information because; you know, we've been trying to track Betty down because she hasn't had her medication in five days and if she doesn't, and we don't find her and get her this stuff she's going to die.....she's going to go into shock." or, it could be your going to jail. It can be any kind of reason where they have fears of something either happening to them or happening to a loved one if they don't give up the information.
What is the 'pride and ego' approach?
The "pride and ego" approach is probably one of the tried and true methods. And this is a very important phrase: you make them feel that "Nobody else can help you. I came to you because you're the only guy that can solve my problem." That gives them a feeling of self-importance, that you wouldn't be able to crack this case if it wasn't for their help.
What is the 'we know all' approach?
The "we know all" approach is basically you telling them something or some information that you have, that may or may not be true. I mean, you can say, we've already got the lab reports back, and we know that you're the one who was there. Or we've got your telephone records back, and we know that you called. Nine times out of ten, the guy doesn't remember, if he is the guy that committed that crime or that particular act, isn't going to remember whether he left something at the scene or something like that. But he does remember whether, he does know whether he's the guy or not. And if he thinks you already know, and you already have the evidence, he'll give it up. If he's not the guy, he's going to continue to insist that he's not the guy. And that usually separates that. You know, some guys will, even if they're guilty, they're going to go, "Okay, let me see it."
What is the 'establish your identity' approach?
The "establish your identity" thing is like the approach I used to use where I'd say, "The guy we're looking for matches your description", and " you know, if you're not him, show us something to prove who you are, or that you were nowhere in the area, or you had nothing to do with it." Usually that puts a person on the defensive, where they'll start giving you information to prove that they weren't that person, or they weren't at that location, or they weren't involved.
What is the 'repetition' approach?
Repetition is a data program and for years it was called the big red lie. If you say anything to somebody often enough and long enough they will eventually, out of exhaustion, tell you what you want to hear. What you want to hear may not necessarily be the truth. There is a long list of past confessions obtained by being repetitive and questioning somebody over and over again. It is a well known fact that eventually somebody will give you the answer you are seeking, whether it is the truth or not.
What is the 'file and dossier' approach?
The bottom-line is that when you have some sort of physical thing, whether it's a file folder –and a file folder would work great- and you keep looking and referring at the folder, the person who you are talking will just think that you have done all your homework on him and you know everything. The results of the dossier approach which in generally is that the person will give you the information you want because they believe you already have it. However, they believe this not because you told him we know everything, but it's just a variation of ‘we know everything approach'; but it's the physical variation making them think you know everything because you got some sort of file with everything in them. [Onscreen text- Tip: Adding extra paper into the file may give the illusion that it contains more data.]
What is the 'rapid fire' approach?
The rapid fire approach is good because the questions are thrown at them so quickly they don't have a chance to analyze them and think of a lie. If you give them time enough, somebody will formulate a lie. But if you ask them enough questions rapidly in a row they don't have a chance to formulate a lie and they will usually tell you the truth. It's a good technique.
What is the 'silence' approach?
Sometimes, just sitting in a room with them. If you combine the silence approach with looking through the phony dossier, it's even better because you can occasionally generate facial expressions of surprise, anger, pity, or whatever. So you're basically interrogating the guy using body language, but you don't ever ask him a question. Then when you finally do ask him a question, you always start with an apology -- "Ah, I'm sorry to keep you here for so long, but I wanted to make sure that I had all the facts straight before I asked you these questions." And then they assume that you do know everything and they start giving it up.