Interviews: Building Rapport
Conducting interviews is critical to any investigation. Private investigators use information gained from interviews to identify suspects, verify facts, or find leads to successfully conclude an investigation. Since interviews are so critical it makes sense for a private investigator to invest a few minutes to build rapport to increase the information they will receive.
Building rapport is not an art, it only takes a few minutes and when you focus on building rapport with someone you are interviewing you will receive more information than you would have without.
Steps to building rapport:
1. Don't rush in to the interview - Take a few minutes to talk with the person. Find topics of common interest. "How do you like working here?", "Did the weather cause problems commuting to work today?" This allows the person to become at ease with you, and for you to feel more at ease with them. Often a few minutes of talking about topics other than the purpose of the interview will help overcome resistance.
2. Mirror the individual using body language - If the person is leaning forward on the table, do the same. If they are sitting relaxed, do the same. Mirroring someone's body language subconsciously puts them at ease with you. Don't be too obvious, just mirror their body language every few minutes.
3. Practice active listening - The point of the interview is to listen. Some investigators have a tendency to interrupt, or cut someone off when they are talking to try and get to the point. Even if the individual rambles when talking with you, allow them time to just talk. It may be a sign they are becoming more at ease. Also, they will be encouraged to talk more when you ask the hard questions. Paraphrase what they say to you make sure you understood them correctly as well as signaling them that you are listening.
4. Be empathetic - Letting them know that you understand how they felt about a situation will further develop trust. "I see that you were angry." "Other people would feel bad if that happened to them." Being empathetic does not mean you agree, rather you are trying to understand their emotional viewpoint. One investigator shared that by being empathetic the individuals would often share more information about an incident, sometimes confessing.
5. Be respectful to the other person - Some people are hard to respect because of their actions, or attitudes. By always being respectful towards them you increase your chances of breaking down their resistance, or increasing the chances they will lower their guard when talking to you.
Building rapport will increase the effectiveness of your interviews, and allow you gain more information. Often the information that will be provided will be more accurate than just asking specific questions.
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