Art of Investigative Interviewing

by Mark Rowe

Author: Inge Sebyan Black

ISBN No: 9780124115835

Review date: 10/12/2023

No of pages: 171

Publisher: Butterworth Heinemann

Publisher URL:

Year of publication: 19/03/2014


Art of Investigative Interviewing



The clue to The Art of Investigative Interviewing is in the title; but that doesn’t mean you can get away with any old method. The American author sets out well that interviewers may have to ask tough and embarrassing questions: did you steal the money?

“Conducting an investigative interview requires that you be brave enough to ask questions that would be rude and intrusive in other situations.” The skill, as the author shows, is knowing how – and when – to ask the hard questions. You can apply methods and work to guidelines. Many are offered: keep questions simple; pursue the unanswered questions and any deception. Prepare beforehand and be aware of first impressions, and setting the tone of the interview, for example the seating (’the main point to remember is that you are in control’).

It’s striking that this US author went into some detail about the setting of the interview, as did Mike Comer in some of his many books on fraud that go into interviewing, such as Deception at Work, and An HR Guide to Workplace Fraud and Criminal Behaviour. Both authors speak of building rapport, being alert to what’s said and not said, and body posture and gestures; and the lawful collection of evidence. The author reminds us that even if you are collecting evidence in a case of staff dismissal, not for use in court, you have to work to acceptable standards, in case the employee goes to a civil court. This impressive book keeps in mind the goal of an interview (fact-finding) and the need for flexibility and detachment. And like Comer, who suggests that the fraud investigator ought to establish sympathy with the fraudster, Inge Sebyan Black writes of ‘active listening, kindness, consideration and respect’ to gain the co-operation of the interviewee. In a rare and welcome change from many US authors, Sebyan Black credits the UK PEACE model of interviewing suspects (and witnesses and victims) besides American ones such as Wicklander-Zulawski. She never forgets that emotions are valid but must not get in the way of the work (’experienced interviewers learn to keep their own biases and feelings in check’). The corporate investigator needs to be curious, intuitive, and patient if cases take months. If you only have a spare minute, turn straight to the snappy, three-page final chapter ‘100 things you should know’. Her conclusion – that investigative interviewing is an art ‘because each of us makes it such’ and each has their own practised technique – is inspiring. This book is a credit to private investigation beside a useful guide for the novice and professional alike.

The Art of Investigative Interviewing, third Edition by Inge Sebyan Black. ISBN-9780124115835, published by Butterworth Heinemann, 171 pages, paperback, £27.74. Visit


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