How To Plan & Prepare For An Investigative Interview

By Gary Patzer May 22, 2023, 11:44 AM


Planning for an interview lays the foundation for an effective investigate interview outcome.  The PEACE Investigative Interview framework is an evidence based methodology that guides the interviewer through 5 stages: Planning & Preparation, Engage & Explain, Account, Closure & Evaluation.

In this article we will take a deep dive into the plan & prepare stage to set the tone of the remaining interview process.


Understanding The Importance of Planning & Preparing In An Investigative Interview.

Before we delve into the details, it’s important to understand the importance of planning for an interview in the context of the larger investigation’s outcome.  The lack of planning for an interview can mean the interview becomes directionless, ineffective, and misses on eliciting the key evidence that is required to properly achieve an outcome.

Proper planning means that the interviewer comprehends the background to the case, can formulate and ask key questions, and can anticipate and respond to certain challenges within the interview.


  1. Conducting a thorough case review

This initial step involves comprehensively reviewing all the facts and evidence already established in a case.  This includes case files, any witness statements, physical evidence, and any other relevant information.

Having a grasp of all the information paints a picture and shows you the pieces of the puzzle. It also helps identify any gaps or nuances that can be explored further in the interview.

Taking detailed notes, mapping out relationships between key pieces of information, and creating timelines can help solidify the interviewers understanding of the case. It establishes the key focus areas of the interview.


 2. Formulating Key Questions

After reviewing the case and identifying gaps or areas of interest, you can formulate key questions to help close the gap in the information at hand.

Questions should be open ended and the interviewer should be focused on facilitating rather than directing the interviewees memory of events.

It’s important for the interviewer to be as flexible as possible and note that questions may evolve as the interview flows. Having a strong starting point can support the effectiveness of the interview.


3. Anticipating Potential Responses

Anticipating potential responses does not mean making assumptions or preparing to go into an interview knowing the outcome, but rather preparing for potential responses ahead of time.

How can you prepare ahead if you anticipate the interviewee to be uncooperative?

Are you prepared to adjust the interview as new information surfaces?

Considering the possibilities ahead of time can give the interviewer confidence stepping into the interview.


4. Preparing Interview Logistics

Taking care of the logistics ahead of time can support the effectiveness of the interview.  Ensuring you have an appropriate venue, you have planned breaks, and have scheduled adequate time for the interview can all prevent any disruptions or distractions from the flow of the interview itself.



The importance of the Plan & Prepare stage cannot be overstated – it lays the foundation for the effectiveness of the interview which will shapes the outcome of the investigation in general.


Final Thoughts

Planning & preparing effectively for an interview is a skill that can be taught.  The PEACE Investigative Interview framework has a structured and comprehensive approach to all the stages of interviewing & a qualified PEACE Investigative Interview trainer can help investigative professionals achieve the desired outcome of an effective investigative interview process.


FIS International are specialist trainers and consultants in PEACE investigative interviewing. 

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Author: Gary Patzer


Gary Patzer is FIS Operations Manager & Senior Trainer. Gary recently retired as a Sergeant with Loveland Police Department in Loveland Colorado to join FIS® International. He was in Law Enforcement Officer for over 33 years.