|Interviewing for Integrity|
|By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ|
As a boss, manager or supervisor, have you ever been charged with the responsibility to conduct a workplace investigation? Prior to such an assignment, how much training did you received to conduct these difficult types of inquiries and often received or gathered conflicting responses that undermines the credibility of the entire process or those who you interviewed?
The point made to asking these kind of questions is the quality or determinability [bottom] line of your process. Did it give you a clear picture of what happened and is it filled with conflicting statements or comments that puts your ability as an investigator to the test? During such a procedure, an interview can affect the investigator’s ability to determine credibility. Credibility of the process, witnesses, complainant, accused or even the investigator who is in charge of this practice.
One has to learn to glean enough from the complaint whether verbal or written and determine the who, what, where, when, why and how’s of the incident to narrow it down to avoid a “witching” process or endless trail to an unsubstantiated finding or a definite finding confirming the allegations made.
The balance to interview too few (a [s]he said, [s]he said situation) pits one person’s word against the other and is seldom resolved with a definite determination or finding. On the other hand, too many witnesses, may produce biased and conflicting stories and further steer the investigation to a more determined direction or it could actually prevent the investigator discovering or gleaning what really happened.
To determine integrity of the process one must put together a list of factors that could determine the applicable and credibility of statements and responses during such an event. This format to seek balance sought should take into consideration “all things relevant” and not become a “be all, end all” process. It takes due diligence and sharp focus to stay on track and seek only the facts related to the matter assigned.
Since integrity seeks the finding of the truth, the first important factor in the process should be the questions themselves. Questions should not be ambiguous and asked to induce a false response. Perform your ethical duty as the assigned investigator to ensure all questions are clear, concise, fair and unbiased in nature and that the answer to such an inquiry would provide you a factual statement.
Prior to asking the questions, prepare the person being interviewed with some solid guidelines for producing a truthful statement. Preparation suggestions should include:
A. Inherent Plausibility:
Following these suggestions or recommendation can be instrumental to your efforts to find the truth. Patience and professionalism in the process will give you a high quality product that should stand on its own merits and give the organizational credibility in their ability to treat employees fairly while providing a fact-finding method that is reliable and dependable to determine the cause or facts of cases recorded in the workplace.
Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."
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