The Art of the Interview
An interview is a conversation with a purpose. The purpose is to obtain information and, in some cases, an admission. Experienced forensic accounting investigators know that the great majority of white collar crimes are solved by a skilled interviewer, not by other forensic means. Arguably, there is no more compelling proof of a crime than a perpetrator's voluntary admission.
Effective interviewing is an art to be studied, a skill to be honed. In the later twentieth century, interviewing also emerged as a science, drawing on decades of psychological and sociological research, including a great deal that had been learned from wartime interrogation. Volumes of scholarly research exist, and more are published each year. Yet whatever scientific techniques are brought to bear—Gudjonsson's cognitive-behavioral model of admission, for example, or Reik's psychoanalytic model of admission1—in the end, the interview process itself is a subtle art that draws on the experience and skill of the practitioner.
The interviewer must plan effectively beforehand, approach the session with a variety of tools and tactics to choose among, follow a line of questioning, evaluate its effectiveness as the interview proceeds, and, if necessary, move seamlessly to a new approach. Effective interviewing is more than a well-executed analytical exercise; it requires great sensitivity to the subject's feelings and thoughts.