West Virginia Interviews: Witnesses, Defendants, Subjects, Clients, Juveniles

The act of interviewing another person is as much an art as a science. It requires someone trained to listen and to think critically; the skilled interviewer uses a variety of techniques to guide the conversation while not coercing the answers.

One particular skill is to ask open ended questions and wait patiently for an answer. Another technique is to determine the learning style - Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic (VAK) of the interviewee and shape the questions to fit the interviewee’s VAK, or learning modality.

Client Interview

The interview process starts with the client. We meet to discuss the case, objectives, budget, and goals and formulate a course of action.

Juvenile Interview

Parental consent is an issue: juveniles can be interviewed without parental consent if they are a witness; however, not so, if they are a subject. Children generally fall into three categories based on age:

  • 0-7 are the truthful years or pleasing years; the child will say things to please you and they are sensitive to suggestive interview techniques.
  • 8-13 are preadolescent years; the child thinks they know everything, but really don’t know; they are subject to deception; in this age range, the child learns to lie to hide truths and is still sensitive to suggestive interview techniques.
  • 14-17 is the hardest to interview. The child is usually a wiseacre and good (practiced) at deception. They are good at hiding micro expressions. A counter technique is to use quiz and talk method, while changing the subject frequently to keep their mind busy processing.

Body Language & Facial Expressions

More than half of a communicated message transpires nonverbally; knowing how to identify some physiological clues can help the interview. For example, when a person looks up & right means they are accessing memory. Looking up and left means they are accessing their creative side (i.e., lying). Recognizing these clues can improve the interview.  Another interesting technique is to nod and wait; this creates an awkward silence and the person will usually keep talking to fill in the silence.


The scope of interviews includes witnesses, former colleagues, business partners, company executives, friends, family, and others – case analysis and development dictates the course of action.

Witnesses, Defendants, Subjects

Each type of interview requires review and preparation. As private investigators, we are not bound by the same requirements as law enforcement officers – especially concerning the requirement to Mirandize someone.  Every successful interview requires review and preparation. A proper, neutral venue must be chosen, time constraints observed, and the need to establish rapport cannot be overemphasized.

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