How to Conduct Virtual Interviews during a Corporate Investigation
Corporate investigations can assist businesses in many cases – whether they need to look into potential employee fraud, determine if a business entity is trustworthy when making merger and acquisition decisions, and dealing with complaints of employee misconduct.
It’s quite common for companies to hire an experienced private investigator to conduct a thorough investigation.
Private investigators utilize various methods and cutting-edge technology to collect evidence during the investigation and conducting interviews with the complainant, defendant, and witness(es) is considered a reliable method to find answers during the investigation process.
However, there are certain scenarios where it’s impossible or inconvenient for the PI to meet interviewees in person. In such cases, you may opt for a virtual investigation interview in the following scenarios:
• When the interviewees can’t commute to your office or you can’t meet them in-person
• When there’s an urgent need to conduct the interview and the interviewee is too busy for an in-person meeting
• When you need to follow up or need additional information after the initial investigative interview
• In case of travelling restrictions
• As a means to cut down on commute and other costs
So, how can you proceed with virtual interviews to thoroughly investigate employee misconduct or other corporate issues? Let’s find the answer!
Schedule and Plan an Interview
Your interviewees are busy people, so make sure you discuss the interview timing and duration to ensure their availability. Inform them about the purpose of the interview along with information about which medium and digital platform you’d use for the virtual corporate investigation interview.
The interview may go on for an hour or longer based on the type of information you need, so free your schedule accordingly and inform the interviewee how long the interview is expected to last.
Regardless of the platform or digital app you use for a video or audio meeting, make sure you have hands on experience of its functionalities.
It doesn’t hurt to practice beforehand how to use the specific technology. For instance, you should learn how to connect or disconnect calls and share screen with the interviewee if needed. Also, you can ask the interviewee to get familiar with the app or software to avoid unnecessary problems and better focus on the interview.
Furthermore, arrange a high-quality webcam along with microphone for the investigation interview. Sit in a place with sufficient lighting so they can clearly see you.
Confidentiality Is a Must
When hired by an organisation to investigate a complaint against an employee or business associate, private investigators must maintain confidentiality. Accordingly, you should conduct virtual meetings in a separate room away from unauthorised people and inform the interviewee if you intend to record the proceedings.
Before starting, show them the room where you’re conducting the remote interview by turning the camera around. It gives a positive impression that you take their privacy seriously.
Politely ask them to give honest answers and avoid consulting someone else during the interview to reduce the risk of someone else dictating to them what to say in response to certain questions.
Create a Comfortable Environment
The stress of attending a corporate interview may take a toll on people and the stress and awkwardness further intensify when the interview is conducted virtually. So, instead of intimidating them right away with tough questions, help them relax and feel at ease so they can share information without any hesitancy.
At the beginning, introduce yourself to the interviewee, confirm their identity, and share the purpose of the interview. Moreover, small talk can break the ice, but make sure you remain formal and respectful at all times.
Be a Good Listener
Do you know how to be a good private investigator and collect evidence through investigative interviews to assist clients in making informed decisions? You can do so by being a good listener!
Interrupting the interviewee every now and then can break the flow of communication and they may forget what they were talking about. Consequently, you may miss important and relevant information that could help with the case.
So, be a good listener and give them a fair chance to collect their thoughts and share information. But it doesn’t mean you should sit idle while they keep talking or else, they may get the wrong idea that you aren’t paying attention, or the interview may get off track.
Rather, you should stay engaged and take notes as necessary. When they answer a question, you can also assure them you are all ears by summarizing their points and asking relevant questions.
Observe the Interviewee
Since you are conducting a virtual investigative interview, you can’t expect the same level of connection with the interviewee which is, otherwise, possible in one-on-one meetings. But make sure you observe the interviewee through the screen and look for non-verbal clues that can assist you in evaluating their credibility.
It’s natural for people to feel nervous or awkward during a virtual investigation interview, so assess their honesty based on objective factors and avoid bias. For instance, if the interviewee looks a little nervous, you may assume they are lying but it may simply mean they are uncomfortable due to the unusual virtual environment.
So, instead of accusing them of lying, you should ask them the right questions and look for warning signs such as inconsistencies in their statement and determine whether they have a motive for lying about the matter when assessing their credibility.
Have a Backup Plan
Virtual investigation interviews involve certain challenges and you should plan ahead to overcome potential issues.
What if the internet connection gets disrupted? What if the internet speed suddenly deteriorates which causes video and audio to lag? Or what if the interviewee doesn’t have access to a webcam?
Think of similar scenarios and find alternate solutions. Under such circumstances, you may need to opt for a phone call instead of a video conferencing call, switch to another device if your laptop doesn’t work seamlessly or reschedule the interview for another time.
Do you want to learn more about how private investigators conduct virtual investigation interviews? Then our expert team can further guide you about Corporate Investigation services.