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Four Rules for Interrogators


Techniques Interrogation > Four Rules for Interrogators

Prepare well | Promote a path of least resistance | Be methodical | Be patient | See also


Of course there are many things that interrogators may do, but here are four general rules that will go a long way to getting you what you seek.

Prepare well

The effective interrogator is well prepared. The person being interrogated may well be resistant to your questions, so you need to have many alternatives at your call.

Find facts that will make you seem all-knowing. Find out about their background, their interests, what others know, what they want and fear and so on.

Build a list of core questions plus many other supplementary questions that will nudge them towards critical answers.

Promote a path of least effort

The best interrogators never have to raise their voice and the session seems to the other person to be less an interrogation and more a friendly conversation.

Appear friendly and cooperative, even sympathetic to the respondent. Do not give them easy reasons to resist, at least at the beginning.

Where stronger methods are required, always leave an easy route in the direction you want them to move.

Sun Tzu, the famous Chinese military strategist said 'Build your enemies a golden bridge'. If the other side feels cornered, they will fight hard. If, however, there is one easy way out, then they are more likely to take that than fight.

Be methodical

Interrogation can be a long and intricate affair in which answers can contradict one another and things be left undiscovered and unsaid. Particularly if you need to build a legally watertight case, no stone can be left unturned.

Ask questions carefully. Record responses. Take time out to cross-check responses for consistency or otherwise. Repeat questions that have not been answered yet.

Be patient

When the other side does not want to answer your questions, then they may use all kinds of resistance tactics. Only when they know that these will not work will many people resign and give you what you want.

Even when the other person is collaborative, they may not easily remember what you are seeking or even understand what you really want of them.

Give plenty of time for answers. Show that you will never give up and will persist however long it takes.

See also

Resisting persuasion, Questioning techniques

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