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14 Questions to Ask in a Workplace Investigation

Get the Key Information You Need to Make an Informed Decision

Posted by Timothy Dimoff on July 2nd, 2015

Conducting effective workplace investigations means finding out important information that can help you determine exactly what happened and how to proceed.

You will be garnering this information from employees who are involved or are witnesses to the subject of the investigation.

Download the free cheat sheet: Top 20 Questions to Ask in an Investigation Interview.

It is crucial to your investigation that you maintain consistency by asking every witness the same questions. And always ask open-ended instead of leading questions.

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Communication is Key

Begin all interviews by thanking the interviewee for his or her participation and cooperation.
Begin all interviews by thanking the interviewee for his or her participation and cooperation.

Next, address the nature of what is being investigated and all issues by explaining that the matter under investigation is serious and the company has a commitment/obligation to investigate the claim.

Let them know that no conclusion will be made until all of the facts have been gathered and analyzed.

When questioning someone in a sexual harassment investigation, which may be sensitive and emotionally charged, it’s important to be tactful and keep the nature of the situation in mind.

It is also important to tell interview subjects that any attempt to influence the outcome of the investigation by retaliating against anyone who participates, providing false information or failing to be forthcoming can result in punitive action up to and including termination.

Is your investigation subject telling the truth? Find out how to tell by downloading the free cheat sheet on Detecting Deception in investigation interviews.

There are  specific questions you can and should ask when conducting a workplace investigation. Ask interview subjects to state their answers in their own words.


Investigation Interview Questions

Questions that you should ask include:

  1. Where and when did the action take place? Is it ongoing?
  2. Who committed the alleged inappropriate behavior?
  3. What exactly happened? Who else was present? In regards to employee investigations — employee discrimination and workplace harassment cases can center on implied or perceived intent.
  4. How did you react?
  5. Did you ever indicate that you were offended or somehow displeased by the act or offensive treatment?
  6. Who else may have seen or heard the incident?
  7. Have you discussed the incident with anyone?
  8. Do you know of others who may have been affected by the actions? See if they will tell you who else may have been affected.
  9. Do you know whether anyone else reported the incident?
  10. How have you and your job been affected by the incident?
  11. Did you seek any medical treatment or counseling as a result of the incident?
  12. Are there any notes, physical evidence, or other documentation regarding the incident(s)?
  13. Is there anyone else who may have relevant information?
  14. What action do you want the company to take?


RELATED: 44 Investigation Interview Questions for the Complainant, Subject and Witnesses.

Timothy Dimoff
Timothy Dimoff

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues.
He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University.

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