LP Magazine

JUL-AUG 2018

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

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by David E. Zulawski, CFI, CFE and Shane G. Sturman, CFI, CPP Zulawski and Sturman are executives in the investigative and training firm of Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates (w-z.com). Zulawski is a senior partner, and Sturman is president. Sturman is also a member of ASIS International's Retail Loss Prevention Council. They can be reached at 800-222-7789 or via email at dzulawski@w-z.com and ssturman@w-z.com. © 2018 Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, Inc. continued on page 14 INTERVIEWING Life Is Like a Circle: Part Three I n part one of this series, we talked about organizing the harassment investigation based on the complaint, the individual who made the outcry, and company policy. We also addressed the order in which interviews should be conducted and the importance of a complete and thorough conversation with the complainant. This is a time for the complainant to do the majority of the talking, while the interviewer spends most of his time listening for facts, biases, and assumptions. Once the complete story has been related, it is only then that the interviewer uses probing questions to enhance the level of details of the story. In part two of the series, we addressed the confidentiality of the investigation, its timeliness, and the preservation of evidence. Then we went on to discuss the strategy and preparation to begin the interviews with the victim, witnesses, and alleged harasser. In this article, we will focus on the actual interview process and how it differs between the parties involved. The interviews themselves help the investigator establish the facts, potential witnesses, and evidence that may corroborate the different parties' statements. The Complainant The first interview to be conducted is a thorough conversation with the complainant. The complainant may or may not be the victim—it could also be another individual who heard the victim's outcry. Victims, for any number of reasons, may be reluctant to make a complaint against another employee or a supervisor. However, once the complaint has been made, it must be investigated in a timely manner. If the individual who heard the victim's outcry comes forward, he or she should be carefully debriefed in great detail not only focusing on the statements made by the victim but also examining the victim's demeanor and relevant facts concerning the work environment. This interview generally begins with rapport building between the interviewer and subject before asking the open-ended question, "Tell me in as much detail as you can, what happened?" This interview should also ultimately provide a context for the investigation relating to the personalities and general environment of the workplace. Without a context for the event, the investigator in future interviews may not ask the right questions or may make erroneous assumptions about day-to-day events. If the complainant is the victim, the interviewer should start after establishing rapport with an open-ended question that directly addresses the individual's complaint. This may be an emotional time for the victim as they struggle with anger, shame, uncertainty, or any other number of emotions. The interviewer needs to be supportive, and one of the best ways to do this is to be a good, nonjudgmental, empathetic listener. Open-ended questions let the victim relive the event in their own words without contamination by the questions, biases, or assumptions that the investigator may have made or had. The Cognitive Interview Often the victims may have suffered a pattern of harassment, which will require the interviewer to break the interview into portions that can address each of the incidents in the pattern. One of the best ways to address this type of interview is to use a cognitive interview, which encourages the victim or witness to provide a detailed account of each event. The cognitive interview starts out with rapport building and then moves on to instructing the witness or victim on what is expected of them in the conversation. Generally, the interviewer will ask the individual to be as detailed as possible in their recollection of events reporting even the smallest details. They This may be an emotional time for the victim as they struggle with anger, shame, uncertainty, or any other number of emotions. The interviewer needs to be supportive, and one of the best ways to do this is to be a good, nonjudgmental, empathetic listener. 12 JULY–AUGUST | LOSSPREVENTIONMEDIA.COM

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