HR Minute

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Internal Investigations: Documenting an Investigation

Posted In Workplace Investigations

Hr-Minute-4-Second-CutHR professionals are often called upon to conduct internal investigations.  One of the most critical aspects of such an investigation is the interviewing of employee witnesses.  Below are some practical tips for effective witness interviews:

  • Prepare.  Have an outline of topics and specific questions prior to meeting with witnesses.  When possible, try to anticipate effective follow-up questions, as well as how you’d like to respond to questions the interviewer asks you.
  • Document.  Take detailed notes, which will be used to prepare a report.   Make sure the notes, if handwritten, are sufficiently legible.  While it is virtually impossible to capture everything said during an interview, the substance should be carefully reflected in the notes.  Take time at the conclusion of each interview to review the notes and revise to properly reflect the witness’s statements.
  • Retain.  The investigator must retain his or her original notes.  These notes may be used as evidence in the event of subsequent litigation.
  • Consider other documentation.  The interviewer may wish to obtain a written affidavit or declaration from a witness.  For example, if a witness identifies various acts of wrongdoing, it may be beneficial to have those acts specifically identified so that the witness does not have an opportunity to later change his or her story.

For more practical tips on conducting internal investigations and considerations in determining their scope, check out this HR Minute.

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