Yesterday I needed to conduct an interview for a case, piece of cake right, wrong! I never know what to expect in the course of setting up and then actually conducting the interview because human beings are all different. That may seem like a no-brainer but that is not always the case.
In this instance I needed to earn the victims trust while interviewing her outside of her home, the one place she feels safe. Why would I conduct the interview away from her home well because she did not feel like she could speak freely in front of her roommates. So off to the coffee shop we go only to find no tables. The weather conditions did not allow for me to meet this person at the park so my last resort was to sit in the comfort of my car. Interestingly enough the amount of care I took trying to find a place she could talk to me safely made her feel safe talking to me in my car. This was a first for me so I had to just go with the flow.
During interviews I always take notes so I have come up with my own shorthand that way I do not need to worry about catching every word. It is important that I am paying close attention to the person I am interviewing. During my interviews I am making an assessment of the individual for the attorney , I am looking for how they react to my questions, if they make eye contact when they answer me, tone and speed of their voice and just a general observation. I also have to listen for what is not being said because often times what a client/witness does not say is just as important as what they do say. Listening for the clues, verbal and non-verbal is very important.
In the interview yesterday from my car I had alot of silent moments, in those moments I just waited. The more patient I was the more my gal opened up. I also let her vent about life in general, this is important because you never know what will lead to an important clue. People in general just want to be heard.
What is my technique-read the witness and gage how I am going to conduct my interview based on the kind of person I am with. listen, listen, listen, prompt, prompt,, prompt and listen again. As long as someone feels safe and not judged you can get them to open up.
I learned alot from my interview today even if it did not start out the way I planned it.