PURSUIT MAGAZINE- The Art of the Investigative Phone Interview

How to Give Good Phone: Investigative Interview Techniques and Tips for Private Investigators

As an in-house investigator with a New York law firm specializing in securities, antitrust, and consumer protection litigation, a lot of my cases involve identifying, locating, and interviewing potential witnesses. Because many of them live far from NYC, I can’t always interview them in person.

The process works like this: Once we identify a witness, we do an extensive pre- screening to determine whether he meets our legal and ethical guidelines, and whether his knowledge or experience is relevant to our investigation. After that, I usually make initial contact the old-fashioned way: by picking up the phone

It’s never easy (or ideal) to cold-call a potential witness. The first call may be awkward. You might reach the subject at an inopportune, time, or she may initially be hesitant to speak openly about sensitive information with a stranger, especially one who identifies him/herself as an “investigator”). But in my experience, most folks I call are intelligent, well-spoken, and (often) eager to speak freely about what they know.

Although I do occasionally encounter people who are unwilling to talk to me remotely, I’ve had plenty of successes over the last 12 years by simply picking up the phone. Given the nature of our cases, most witnesses are more comfortable speaking with me from the comfort of their home or office. Even though the people I call may never have met me (and may not be aware of our investigation), most are willing to help and share their observations or sentiments freely.

Remember, these interviews are not interrogations. Generally speaking, the witnesses we contact are not under suspicion.


About securityteknews
Ralph Thomas is author of over 32 books on various aspects of conducting investigations, founder and director of The National Association Of Investigative Specialists,CEO of Thomas Investigative Publications, Inc, The Spy Exchange And Security Center and SpyTek Wholesale Imports. Thomas is a member of the Executive Security Council of Griffith Colson Intelligence Service, a private intelligence agency. Thomas's latest project is NAIStv on the Griffith Media TV Network. He has also developed A Native American Store in Georgetown Texas called Tribal Impressions. You can review his person home page off of: http://www.pimall.com/thomas

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