Witness interview:Tips to bear in mind when interviewing witnesses during incident investigation.
An incident occurring in the workplace will necessitate an investigation, but the degree of that investigation will depend on the nature of the incident.
The main factors for the degree of the investigation include the likelihood of the incident happening again and its worst potential consequences.
However, depending on this, the investigation could be minimal, low level, or medium or high level but whichever level, one vital step that will always happen is interviewing witnesses when gathering information about the incident.
For you to ensure witness interview success, there are four tips you must bear in mind when interviewing witnesses during an incident investigation.
#1.Putting the witness at ease
How do you put a witness at ease? Start by explaining the purpose of the investigation to the person. Let the witness know this is about getting to the cause of the incident. Be attentive to the witness. Carefully listen to them when they are talking. Be friendly and encourage the witness when talking to you.
Keep reassuring the witness that this investigation is not for blame but to find out the cause of the incident and prevent repetition.
#2.Determine the location of the interview.
Specific locations will guarantee your interview success. If possible, interviews should be carried out at the incidence scene because it is easier for the witness to explain better at the Scene and much easier for them to recall their actions related to the specific location.
#3.What type of question should you ask during witness interview?
The type of question to ask boils down to how you phrase the question during the interview. Asking the right question will make the witness give you a good response while conducting an interview.
Invariably, do not start your questions with “WHY” because it will put the witness on the defensive side. Also, the witness may not be open enough to give relevant information.
When framing your question, you may consider using the below to start your questions. They are what, where, when, how and who. The typical question that you may generate from this include
What happened? Where were you at that time?
#4.Pay attention to the “what happened question?” during witness interview
What happened is a question that will always generate a response. When waiting for a response from the witness, You must have an attitude of a good listener and avoid any form of interruption. Always wait for the witness to finish their particular response before asking another question.
At this stage, the investigator should not disagree with the witness statement because what the witness give is the perceived report of the incident. Though might conflict with the fact of the matter.
Conclusion:Tips to bear in mind when interviewing witnesses during incident investigation.
These four tips will improve the success of the witness interview. However, once the witness gives an account of what happened, the investigator can conclude by repeating the witness statement to ensure the witness understands it.
Doing this will make the witness account clearer. And if there were omissions, they would correct them immediately.
If the witness and the investigator are satisfied with the statement, the interview has to end. The investigator should reaffirm the initial purpose of the incident investigation to the witness to ensure his further cooperation.
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Onyeka Emma is a QHSE Professional, a business person, and an entrepreneur. He is very passionate about health and safety, Business and Entrepreneurship.