Accident Interviewing Techniques Continued

This article is a continuation of a previous article about accident interviewing techniques. Interviewing witnesses is one of the most important aspects of accident investigation, and it is often one of the most difficult. Below we describe the last two phases of accident interviewing.

4. The interviewer should do as little of the talking as possible and have the witness do most of the talking. Interviewing is an art, not a science; therefore, it takes experience to keep the interviewee talking. One of the most effective devices for keeping a person talking without a direct question from the interviewer is a pause. The pause is best employed following an assertion by the interviewer. Research has shown that pauses as long as 10-40 seconds may be used effectively.

5. Taking copious notes during the interview interferes with the flow of information and adds to the length of the interview. The best procedure is to use a smart phone to record the conversation during the interview and transcribe (there are mobile apps that can do this automatically for you) the witness statement when it is convenient. If there is no tape recorder available, or if the witness seems reluctant about talking into a microphone, an alternate procedure is to take as few notes as possible during the interview, filling in the planned areas immediately after the interview. Still another way of handling interviews is to take along an-other person to do nothing but take notes. This leaves you free to concentrate on the interview.

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