Fact Finders Conduct Revealing Interviews

Certified experts capably manage the human element in a variety of inquiries

At North American Forensic Accounting, our investigators are adept at getting the numbers to tell their story. But we also appreciate how important it is to elicit information from personnel who may have material knowledge. Of course, there are obstacles to obtaining information from human sources. Knowledgeable individuals may have something to hide, they may find it difficult to concentrate under questioning, especially when the stakes appear high, or they may not know what information is pertinent. Because the human element is so integral to a successful inquiry, our investigators have undergone specialized training in interview techniques designed to overcome a variety of obstacles. We conduct interviews with the utmost professionalism, tact, and skill to gather information that is vital to understanding a problem and crafting a solution.

A little bit CSI; a little bit Columbo

In this age of advanced diagnostics and data analytics, the human element of an investigation can get the short shrift. The pioneering police procedural program CSI has created expectations that every mystery has a hard science explanation. Yet, even on TV, investigators can’t crack every case through technology alone. A thorough investigation also requires an artful approach, perhaps best typified by Lt. Columbo, whose gentle yet persistent inquiries inevitably led to the “just one more thing” that solved the case.

As investigators, we’ve encountered numerous cases where businesses had tight controls in place, but still suffered losses. Those controls were only as good as the people implementing them. So, until we understood who those people were, the pressures they faced, their feelings towards the organization, and other factors, we could not fully understand why the controls had failed.

Deft management of discussions to uncover pertinent facts

NAFA has investigators who are certified in interviewing techniques. Our approach to interviews encompasses many aspects, including:

  • Detailed preparation — An investigator should never go into an interview without a plan. We review case files and familiarize ourselves with the subject of the interview to develop a list of objectives designed to lead us to hidden details that can help your query.
  • Site preparation — The interviewer must control the space in which the interview takes place. This means using lighting, furnishings, temperature, and other elements of the ambiance to set a mood and minimize distractions. With some interviews, the strategy might be to make the subject as comfortable as possible. With others, a subject’s discomfort could prompt statements that reveal information the subject has been deliberately hiding.
  • Flexible questioning — Trained interviewers use different types of questions — Introductory, informational, assessment, closing, admission-seeking — and adopt different tones depending on the objectives of the interview. Although an interview is distinctly different from an interrogation, inflections to questions can be accusatory when circumstances warrant. Our interviewers also tailor questions and technique to match the person being interviewed. For example, we would take a different tone and tact with the CEO of a corporation versus a member of the staff.
  • Applying different interviewing techniques — We employ different strategies for different objectives. For example, during a cognitive interview we’re simply looking to gain more information. But we might establish an interviewee as a source from whom we hope to obtain an admission or confession. In such a case, our tactics might include displaying evidence or establishing rationalizations for the alleged conduct. This requires us to be strategic about the tone and phrasing of our questions.
  • Reading nonverbal cues — During an interview, we can learn a great deal from a subject’s physical responses, such as verbal stammering, restlessness, perspiration, gesticulation, and overall body language.

A successful interview depends as much on detailed preparation as it does on experience, which enables us to “stay in the moment” with the subject and respond in real time to the verbal and nonverbal information being conveyed.

Scrupulous adherence to legal standards

Our investigators are not bound by every tenet of the law concerning police procedure however we take no chances. We familiarize ourselves with relevant laws and regulations, understand circumstances that might be construed as false imprisonment, and the legality of recording our interviews. When you retain our services for your internal investigation, you can rely on our professionalism and our determination to operate within the letter of the law.

Contact North American Forensic Accounting to learn more about our interview services

North American Forensic Accounting conducts interviews to help client organizations investigate internal issues. To learn more, call us at 347-286-4860 or contact one of our offices online to schedule an appointment. NAFA serves clients from offices throughout the United States, including in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York City, Atlanta, Charlotte, Miami, and the Tampa Bay Area.