Methods of Interrogation: Techniques on Interrogation for Corporate Security

Using factual appeals, emotional appeals and a modified emotional appeal to allow your investigations to bear fruit


The first part of the WZ method uses an introductory statement that helps the interrogator convince the suspect that his guilt is known. The interrogator also has an opportunity at this time to observe behavior and identify other areas of criminal activity that the suspect may be involved in. The introductory statement consists of three parts:

  • A description of the security function and its purpose
  • A discussion of the different methods that could be used to cause losses or crimes
  • How investigations are conducted

When adequately done, the introductory statement is a powerful tool to convince the individual that his guilt is known. It also affords the interrogator an opportunity to behaviorally observe the suspect’s responses to a number of different methods of theft or crimes. Many suspects will react behaviorally to methods of theft or crimes that they have committed, allowing the interrogator to gather intelligence relating to the scope of the suspect’s criminal activity. The interrogator then moves through a highly structured planned approach using rationalizations and dealing with internal conflicts in the suspect’s mind. This approach concludes with the use of an assumptive question called a soft accusation. Instead of the choice question, which essentially gives an admission to what was known, the soft accusation asks for an admission that may expand the suspect’s involvement into other areas of theft or criminal activity. The following is an example of the soft accusation.

Interrogator: “When would you say was the very first time that you took money from the company?”

The suspect may make an admission to this question or pause to consider his response. If the suspect pauses the interrogator will use a follow-up question to achieve the first admission.

Interrogator: “Was it your first week on the job?”

Suspect: “No!”

Interrogator: “Great, I didn’t think that was the case.”

The suspect now has admitted stealing money, but denied that it was the first week on the job. The interrogator continues to develop the admission with the suspect confirming theft of cash prior to the missing deposit. In this way the interrogator is more likely to get closer to the true scope of the suspect’s involvement in theft activity than by focusing on the single missing deposit theft of which he was suspected. In the event that the deposit is the sole theft incident the suspect has been involved in, he will confess to that while strongly denying other activities. The interrogator develops the total admission with the suspect and reduces the confession to some permanent form for later use.

There are a number of additional approaches that an interrogator could use to begin the interrogation. These approaches vary in complexity and difficulty so the new interrogator is encouraged to use those described previously before attempting new strategies. More information and examples on these approaches are detailed in the textbook, Practical Aspects of Interview and Interrogation.

Backing Out

There may be instances where the suspect will not confess to the incident under investigation. The interrogator should be prepared to back out of the interrogation without obtaining an admission.

Prior to backing out the interrogator should present the evidence discovered during the investigation. On occasion the individual may be able to explain the evidence or provide proof of their innocence.