Kusserow on Compliance: First steps in conducting witness interviews

Witnesses are key to most investigations and are most often neutral third-parties from whom information is desired. Obtaining useful information and cooperation from witnesses is a critical part of any successful investigation and nothing can derail that faster than not properly engaging the witness from the outset. The following are tips regarding the proper protocols to initiating witness interviews:

  1. Identify self and any others participating in the interview
  2. State the reason for the interview
  3. Explain your authority to conduct the inquiry
  4. Explain why they were selected to be interviewed
  5. Remind the witness of their duty to provide complete and accurate facts
  6. Politely ask for their cooperation
  7. Remind them that they will be protected against any retaliation
  8. Clarify that the interview is voluntary and can be ended at any time
  9. Explain that it is important they be open and candid
  10. Note their comments will be confidential to only those with a need to know
  11. Request them, in return, to keep the interview confidential (“street runs both ways”)
  12. Before questioning, ask if they have any questions
  13. Work to establish rapport and to relax the interviewee
  14. Before substantive questioning, ask simple ones about their duties, who they report to, etc.


Richard Kusserow has over 40 years investigative experience including eleven years as HHS Inspector General and twelve years with the FBI. He authored “Conducting Internal Investigations in Health Care Organizations (ISBN 979-1-936230-60-8). His firm provides investigator training for clients.

Connect with Richard Kusserow on LinkedIn.

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Copyright © 2019 Strategic Management Services, LLC. Published with permission.