Out of the blue, you find yourself asked by your employer to submit to a workplace investigation interview. There are many things you can do to prepare, but also common mistakes to avoid. Here are three mistakes to keep in mind:
(1) Discussing the Investigation with Other Colleagues Before the Interview;
(2) Forgetting You Are There to Answer Questions (And Not Ask Them); and
(3) Not Providing Responsive, Concise Answers to the Investigator’s Questions.
By avoiding these three common mistakes, interviewees may avoid potential liability or unfavorable investigative findings.
Regardless of whether you know the exact allegations and details underlying the investigation, you should not discuss the investigation or the allegations with other employees or interviewees. By discussing the investigation and allegations with other employees, interviewees risk learning information they would otherwise have not known and may not want to divulge to the investigator. While it is natural to want to prepare for the interview by coordinating with similarly situated people, you should go into the interview with only your own facts and first-hand information.
Administrative investigation interviews serve as fact-finding exercises for the investigator, and the investigator will be assessing the interviewee’s credibility. The investigator’s job is to ask the questions, and an interviewee’s is to answer them honestly. By nature, however, people want to be helpful, and they go into interviews hoping to share their side of a story. It may feel counterintuitive, but it is in an interviewee’s best interest to respect the interviewer’s role as the questioner and their own as the answerer.
Following the previous tip, interviewees should answer the questions in a responsive and concise manner. This means that interviewees should not speculate about facts or guess the answers. If you do not know the answer, say you do not know. However, only answer with “I do not know” or “I do not remember” if it is true. Interviewees should not say they do not know or recall as a tactic to avoid answering a question. It is also important for interviewees to listen carefully to the questions, answering “yes” or “no” if it is a yes-or-no question and providing concise responses to questions that elicit more than a “yes” or “no.” If the question was unclear or confusing, then interviewees should ask for clarification or for the interviewer to repeat the question.
Learning that you are going to be questioned by a workplace investigator understandably can create feelings of uncertainty and anxiety. By following above tips, you can have some general support for your interview, but if you need advice specific to your situation, consulting with an employment lawyer can better prepare you for a workplace investigation interview. If you need assistance preparing for a workplace investigation interview, contact Lipp Law today.
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