Interview notes are the core of corporate investigation
Taking notes is absolutely critical during a corporate investigation. Number one, it shows the witness you’re listening to them. One of the worse things that you can do to anybody is give them the impression you’re not listening and taking notes allays that.
There is a temptation about paraphrasing. That is putting your version of what the witness said on paper rather than their exact words. Their exact words are what you want on paper. You don’t want interpretations because then at a later date, you’ll have to admit, those weren’t the exact words; those are your interpretations. It will look like you’re trying to slant the corporate investigation in some way that will compromise your integrity as the investigator.
You don’t need to write down every single word. Try to do is write down the key words like “harassment”, “accounting fraud”, whatever the specific subject matter is but when you keep it in the witnesses’ words, it’s far more credible in the long haul.
Confidentiality during the corporate investigation
Confidentiality is delicate during a corporate investigation. Lots of people will say, you know, “I don’t want you to tell anybody what I’m telling you.” And you need to say, “I need to tell other people within the company. It’s going to be a limited circle of people who will only be people who have a need to know this. But I cannot guarantee you strict confidentiality about what you’re telling me.”
You may go round and round that many times because many people will press that point but you need to stand firm because you do need to inform the company or its lawyers or its executives about what’s happening.
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