The right Iinvestigation techniques can improve the overall quality of an investigation. They can help investigators organise the whole process and ensure all details have been taken into account. Investigation techniques focus on how to collect the right type of evidence and how to have the right plan before the investigation even starts. They can help analyse incidents and the information collected. These techniques can be applied to multiple types of investigations including financial, sexual harassment, fraud and conflict of interest. 

Investigation techniques

The way that a process is carried out can affect the overall outcome. A poorly organised investigation will highlight shortcomings along the way and bad investigation techniques. This is why it’s important to use the preparation stage as a way to plan out the whole process and the approaches that will be used. Investigation techniques could include:

  • Referring back to company policy throughout the investigation
  • Ensuring a great level of documentation 
  • Developing the right interview questions
  • Utilising both external and internal information
  • Choosing the right individuals for each task
  • Gathering evidence through a number of ways
  • Employing investigation software
  • Communicating regularly throughout the process
  • Prioritising security

Referring back to company policy throughout the investigation

Before initiating an investigation it is important to get familiar with the company policy to be able to refer to it during the process. The policies will act as a guide and inform the investigators of the way in which the incident could be breaching the company code. Getting familiar with the company policy will also help in carrying out better interviews as it will give a better understanding of what the company stands for. During an investigation, referring back to company policy can also be useful in knowing how it can be improved when writing an investigation report. 

Ensuring a great level of documentation 

One of the best investigation techniques is learning how to document the right way. It is important to write down the actions of the involved parties without bias and the activities that were undertaken during the investigation. Consistency and accuracy are two of an investigator’s best friends. The best way to document an investigation is to use quotes from those involved and avoid paraphrasing as much as possible. 

Documentation should also have a timeline. It is better to take things down in order rather than have them in a messy and unorganised sequence of events. While the interviewee may tell things out of order, noting dates and times in the left hand margin is a standard documentation technique which will help you organise events into a timeline later.

Also, while it may not indicate whether someone is guilty or not, it is advisable to also write down the body language of the people who were interviewed. This can help later on when the investigator is reflecting back on the actions that they took. They might notice a slight bias toward someone acting a certain way, and they can work on it to prevent similar biases in the future.

Developing the right interview questions

The investigation techniques that can help the investigator the most are those that help them organise the interviews with each party involved. To develop the best interview questions and investigator will need to: 

  • Identify who the people are 
  • Determine what is the relationship with the person who made the complaint 
  • Find out their position within the company 
  • Figure out whether they have different types of evidence that can provide 
  • Understand their role in this incident 

This will help them structure a series of open-ended questions that allow the individual to share as much information as possible but also help the investigator create questions that are directly relevant to that specific person. The better-suited the questions are, the more effective they will be at getting the right answers. 

Part of these investigation techniques also refers to how well the investigator manages emotions during an interview. It is crucial that the investigator remains impartial and empathetic during the whole process. The investigator needs to understand that this is a sensitive and hard time for everyone and they will need to manage the emotions of all parties, including their own. They have a duty of care towards the company and themselves. 

Utilising both external and internal information 

During an investigation, it is advisable that both external and internal information is used. Internal information refers to company records, such as employee history and past behaviour, while external information refers to data that is available to the public, such as social media and search engines. The nature of the evidence depends heavily on the incident the investigator is dealing with. The use of both internal and external data will assist in achieving a more accurate outcome as all available information has been considered. 

investigation techniques

Choosing the right individuals for each task 

When looking at the delegation of tasks, investigators may not consider this part of investigation techniques. But it is. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of the people in a team can be the key to conducting a successful investigation. Investigators can assign tasks to people who are really strong in an area. For example, someone may be really good at holding interviews, while another one may be really good at collecting other types of evidence, such as CCTV footage and social media posts. Effective communication with colleagues can demonstrate what will be the best way of working and carrying out an interview in a way that is beneficial to everyone.

Gathering evidence through a number of ways 

The interview stage can be very helpful in finding out all the different types of evidence that are applicable to a case. By having a conversation, the investigator can discover that there is available surveillance and that the incident took place on a social media platform or via text messages. While the initial information provided by the company can be helpful, the investigator will need to constantly look for new opportunities and identify new types of evidence that can be collected. 

In a harassment case, it may even be worth holding surveys to understand the extent of the problem. A survey could help the organisation and the investigator determine whether it was a one-off incident or if this has affected other individuals in the past. The witness in a case may not have this information. This type of data can be really helpful when deciding on the appropriate disciplinary action. 

Employing investigation software 

Investigation techniques have evolved a lot throughout the years. When thinking of investigation techniques now, the first thing that comes to mind is investigation software. Investigation software can simplify investigations and fast-track them. They can provide the investigators with the tools they need to analyse information, figure out the authenticity of evidence and carry out social media searches in just a couple of minutes. For example, truepic can show whether images were altered, faked or taken from different locations and devices than claimed. Social Discovery can assist the investigator in running a social media search for any relevant posts or messages and complete the whole process in a matter of minutes. 

Investigation tools allow the organisation to save money and time and reassure them that the outcomes of the investigation are reliable. 

Communicating regularly throughout the process 

To ensure a high level of clarity during the investigation process, it is important that the investigators communicate with relevant parties as often as possible. This includes the people who will be interviewed as well as company stakeholders who are directly involved in the process. Providing people with information prevents any confusion and encourages better decision-making. Without a clear line of communication, the parties investigated can close off as they don’t trust the individuals who are leading the process. To build rapport and create a better relationship, the investigation team will need to keep them updated on the next action and speak to them in simple terms. 

Investigators will also need to be patient as not everyone will be understanding during the process and some people might not respond well. While still staying empathetic, it might be necessary for the investigator to be the one who controls the situation before it affects the whole investigation. 

Prioritising security

Confidentiality and security are two of the most critical elements in an investigation. While collecting evidence is one thing, storing and preserving it is another. Software tools can be very helpful in analysing and collecting evidence but a case management system and tie both of them together and ensure that the evidence hasn’t been mishandled. 

At Polonious we take pride in providing our clients with a secure place where they can store different types of evidence that only those involved can access. The investigators have full control over who sees case updates, documents and interview notes. With our simpletoconnect integration, online interviews become easy as everything is happening from one place, safely. 

All data collected can be kept in our system for as long as needed, and we make sure there are no leaks so the identities of the individuals are protected. 

We also assist investigators in streamlining their workflows and automating all the boring tasks so they can focus on what matters. 

If you want to add a strong ace to your collection of investigation techniques, reach out and book a demo today! We will be happy to show you how our system can help you.