A large source of Wicklander-Zulawski (WZ) training material and ongoing research comes from our very own Investigative Division. Within this division, we get contacted by organizations, both private and public, to assist or lead in an investigation. Once we take on the investigation, part of the process includes deciding who would be the best interviewer for the case. All of the investigators at WZ are CFI’s and experienced interviewers; however, some cases may dictate one interviewer is better suited for the case than another.
Taking into consideration that schedules, geographic location and other logistics may impact the selection process; let’s assume that none of that is relevant for the sake of understanding the real basis for selecting the right interviewer.
Here are some of the topics we consider when assigning an investigation to a WZ Interviewer:
- Some types of cases may be better suited for a specific gender or age of the interviewer. For example, if we were hired for a possible sexual harassment investigation and the alleged harasser was a male subject I would prefer a male interviewer. In this scenario, it may be easier for the interviewer to develop a rapport and rationalize with the subject. On the other hand, it may be better suited for a female interviewer to talk to the alleged complainant if they are also a female for the same reason.
- Ability to Develop Rapport
- A good interviewer can develop rapport with almost anyone, but let’s make it easier. People like people that are like themselves; so if you can identify that the subject has a passion for sports, cooking, has a family or loves to travel, then you need to be able to connect with that. Based on the subjects’ background, we may select a specific interviewer who can more easily develop a personal connection.
- Knowledge of Case
- This doesn’t necessarily mean that the interviewer is the same as the primary investigator on the case. Even if one of the investigators has done the majority of the research doesn’t mean they have to do the interview. However, the interviewer should have a thorough understanding of the facts of the case, but also the methods of investigative tools available. For example, we may be involved in a cash theft case at a restaurant one week, an embezzlement investigation at a bank another week and a criminal case the following week. The interviewer needs to be aware of how each environment operates, and how each investigation could be conducted. At WZ, we may be assigned an investigation into Gang related cases, Drug issues, or Child Abuse. We have a variety of contracted WZ investigators that specialize in these fields that may be used for those cases. Understanding exception reporting and key performance indicators is different than applying the knowledge of fingerprint and DNA analysis.
- Some of our investigations are provided for clients that have used WZ multiple times. Over time, a reputation may be established about that interviewer. For example, if Wayne conducts multiple investigations at the same location then employees may start to think “Every time that guy comes here, people get fired”. If the interviewer has established their own baseline or norm, then we may change interviewers to adjust the perspective among the other employees.
- We take all of the above into consideration when selecting our interviewer. However, it’s also important to remember that if you are a professional interviewer that you can overcome any of those perceived obstacles. Gender, age, background and knowledge of the case can all be a non-issue if the interviewer appropriately develops rapport, establishes credibility and shows understanding. When selecting our interviewer for a case, I feel confident that any WZ investigator could fit in to any type of case with the right preparation.
To give the interviewer the best chance of obtaining the truth, ensure you are reviewing all of the above when identifying who the case should be assigned to. Ultimately, always remember that if you take the time to prepare for the case appropriately and develop a thorough understanding of the relevant details that you can overcome all the other obstacles.
If you want more information about the Investigative and Consulting Division at WZ please contact Dave Thompson, CFI at 800-222-7789 (x125) or via email at DThompson@W-Z.com.