Recently I was working on a couple of interrogation tapes that
some agencies ask me to review and soon after presented two of
my Level 3 & 4 classes. On the fourth day of this class, students
get the opportunity to participate in live interviews with volunteer
subjects from a nearby correctional facility. In both instances, I
was struck by the fact that the interviewers felt the need to "drive"
the interview or interrogation. In each case the goal of the
interviewer was to find the truth but during their big push I noticed
the interviewers were missing some subtle but yet extremely
important responses by their subjects. As interviewers we need to
learn how to just "steer" an interview and "let the game come to

With the initiation of the narration phase of any interview I have a
set of goals I hope to achieve. First, I want to elicit a full and
complete uninterrupted statement from my subject so that I can a.)
identify if the individual is evading, withholding, omitting, altering,
or overlooking critical information that I need for my investigation
and b.) if they are evading, withholding or altering information is it
with the deliberate intent to mislead me. If I assume a "driving"
type of approach I often push the subject away from or race past
issues that may be critical to my analysis and ultimately my case.
Think of this like driving at night - we can "over drive" our
headlights. We'll have little or no time to react to any road
changes or hazards that we illuminate with our headlights because
we plowing through the darkness full speed ahead. By slowing
down even just a little in the room I can allow a subject's reactions
and responses to develop a little more fully. Now as the
interviewer I can "steer" the interview into this areas and thereby
giving me more time and as well many more opportunities to react
to my subject and the issues that are obviously significant to them.

No one likes being "driven" into what they may perceive is a
emotionally or mentally threatening situation. Any one of us would
immediately start to resist in at least a passive if not aggressive
form. Our fight or flight responses have been automatically
triggered by the feeling we may be heading for a trap. In two
different interviews in two different advanced classes, I spotted the
same "driving" technique being used by students on their inmate
volunteers. I'm sure that with their new skills my students certainly
wanted to unleash all their newly acknowledge on the poor
unsuspecting inmate but I could them missing some key issues.
Doing something I rarely do, I wrote a note to each interviewer
basically telling them to slow down, allow the subject time to
develop their responses and notice their reactions. In other words,
"let the game come to you." In both cases, there was an
immediately significant increase in the subjects' reactions as well
as the quantity and quality of information - both spoken and

We don't need to "drive" our subjects during the interview - just
"steer." If we need to get a full and complete narrative from our
subject and then fairly test the accuracy of our subject's
statements, then we are going to have to learn to "let the game
come to us."

Author's Bio: 

Stan B. Walters runs the company Truth & Deception, Inc.
He works with agencies and organizations that want to train their
people how to conduct successful interviews and interrogations
and uncover the real story.