HR officers have many duties, and they all revolve around the central part of any organisation, the personnel. The most dreaded task is probably having to deal with situations in which a staff member or employee accuses another of serious misconduct, or when events come to light indicating that serious mistakes have been made. It requires investigation, and lots of subtlety.
The interviews are an integral part of any workplace investigation, as that’s how first-hand knowledge of the facts can be obtained. However, conducting interviews is not always that straightforward – there are rules and policies to follow. Here are some best practices to follow for interviews during workplace investigations.
Make a Plan
An investigation is not something that can be done right on the spot. Though there is urgency (you should handle it swiftly), it should be done with care and forethought. What exactly are you trying to find out? Which facts do you wish to establish? Write down what information you have and what information you need, and formulate a plan.
Choose your People and Time it Carefully
To make sure you can ascertain certain facts, you may need to interview people – both the accuser and the accused should get their turn, as well as any witnesses or people who can collaborate or deny certain issues. Certain procedures have been recommended with great results; they usually start with the accuser, then the witnesses, then the accused, and finally the complainant again. Have a practical line-up and be mindful of the timing.
Handle the matter quickly without compromising on thoroughness. You always have to keep in mind that in the worst case scenario, the matter could be referred to judicial court, and procedure is very important. Don’t rush, but don’t delay either.
Explain and Follow Procedure
Make sure you explain well why the people are interviewed, and let them have their full say. Follow company procedure. When asking questions, make sure you are fair and that the questions are neither leading nor intimidating or accusatory.
Follow Protocol and Record
It’s often helpful to take many notes and to record the conversations. However, when recording (either through video and/or audio) make sure you ask permission. Also, after recording, have it transcribed by an experienced UK transcription service.
Interviews to discover the facts regarding cases of alleged wrongdoing are sadly a part of corporate life – upon which a lot can depend. They have to be handled with care. When they are done, make sure you take your time for a thorough review, and write everything in detail in a comprehensive report. Based on this, decisions can be made. Maintain confidentiality, formulate a plan, act swiftly, and uphold the most respect for all those involved – a lot depends on it.