Internal Investigation FAQ: What Order Should an Investigator Use to Conduct Interviews?

Interviews are one of the most important methods of collecting evidence during an internal investigation conducted by an attorney or investigator (for purposes of this article, referred to as the “investigator”). An investigator’s interview sequence can impact the accuracy and thoroughness of the information collected during the investigative process. For example, an investigator should attempt to interview the accuser/complainant (if known or available) first so the details of the allegations can be clarified; relevant evidence can be identified and collected; and an initial list of witnesses can be developed.

If circumstances permit, an investigator should conduct interviews in the following order:
  1. Accuser/complainant.
  2. Individuals: (a) with the least amount of information regarding the allegation/complaint; (b) identified during the evidence-collection process; and (c) named by the accuser/complainant and other interview subjects.
  3. Subject-matter experts or other individuals who could educate the investigator on topics or issues pertinent to the allegation/complaint.
  4. Individuals who were associated or collaborated with the accused/target in the alleged misconduct, violation or illicit behavior.
  5. Accused/target of the investigation.
  6. Individuals identified by the accused/target and any other parties.
  7. Accuser/complainant (follow-up interview).
Naturally, the order of interviews is dictated by investigation strategy, the facts of the case, external issues (e.g., litigation, government involvement) and other factors.
Contact Buckner attorney Michael Buckner (+1-954-941-1844 ext. 1; for more information on internal investigation issues.