“Liar, liar, pants on fire!”
—Child to a fibber
Interviewing is the Swiss Army knife in the investigator's toolbox because well-planned and thoroughly conducted interviews will contribute greatly to the success of any investigation. Interviews often prove helpful even when all other tools fail to provide good results. However, the techniques applied when using the interviewing tool vary based on the user's training and experience.
I could tell enough interview and interrogation war stories to fill another book. In fact, trying to summarize into one chapter all of the useful information an interviewer needs to know would be challenging to say the least. This chapter provides information and war stories about interviewing that should be valuable to any investigative interviewer.
I learned many of the interviewing techniques I've utilized during my career by accident, by trial and error, from conversing with or watching other interviewers, by completing training courses, and by reading books. (I learned absolutely none from watching television or movies.)
NOTE: In this chapter, I often use the word “interviewer” rather than “investigator” because the job positions of many professionals who conduct interviews may not be officially designated as “investigators.”
In War Story 3.2, I described being a young investigator who obtained my first admission/confession from a thief when he admitted stealing a television (which I didn't even know had been stolen) when I ...