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Hypothesis Interviewing: Building Rapport to Maximize Communication

NCJ Number
The Journal Volume: 8 Issue: 2 Dated: Summer 2002 Pages: 9-18
J. L. Sumpter M.S.
Date Published
10 pages
This article discusses the importance of police investigators building rapport with an interviewee.
It is important that investigators restrain from expressing a belief of how a crime occurred during an interview. An investigator that actively listens to the interviewee and resists acting upon a hypothesis of how the crime took place will have the most success in building rapport with the interviewee. Rapport is the building block to gaining trust through verbal and nonverbal communication and deserves the investigator’s greatest attention. When rapport is achieved, it allows the interviewee empowerment to direct the route of the interview. Hypothesis interviewing is a premature belief of how the crime was committed before deciphering the relationship between the interviewee’s statements and the collected evidence. This belief controls the course of the interview. The pre-existing belief of guilt or innocence the investigator may possess prior to the interview can be a great hindrance to building positive communication with the interviewee. It can cause the investigator to miss the central thesis of the crime by inadvertently altering the interviewee’s response. Premature closure is when the investigator has drawn on only a few aspects of the case and uses these as the sole purpose of the interview. An investigator must have an open mind and reliable identified knowledge of the case. During the interview, investigators must avoid interrupting the interviewee during the description of the event or the interviewee may deter into another direction. After the interviewee has finished the description of the crime, a brief moment of silence will allow for addition of details or items forgotten. Nonverbal behavior is the physical actions portrayed by the investigator that stimulate conscious and pre-conscious responses by the interviewee. It is necessary that the investigator maintain an unbiased attitude by expressing confidence in what the interviewee is stating. Successfully building rapport with the interviewee can create an atmosphere that depicts a need for all information and not just what the investigator has theorized. 5 footnotes