The Sins of Interviewing: Errors Made by Investigative Interviewers and Suggestions for Redress

  • John Yarbrough
  • Hugues F. Hervé
  • Robert Harms


Interviewing is the essence of law enforcement. The goal of an effective interview, be it with a victim, witness, informant, or suspect, is to elicit complete and accurate information. Of course, the gathering of complete and accurate information is not unique to law enforcement. Psychologists and psychiatrists rely on fact-finding interviews to—among other activities—diagnose and treat mental illness, assess malingering, and determine risk of violence. The retail loss prevention and other industries use investigative interviews to gather data to identify, neutralize, assess, and prevent thefts and frauds (see Walsh & Bull, this volume). Leaders of countries and politicians rely on accurate information to make geopolitical and economic decisions and to navigate diplomatic relationships. The gathering of intelligence has always been critical to the military in times of both peace and war. In other words, many important decisions are made on a daily basis that depends on information gathered by people through interviews.


Cognitive Load False Claim Rapport Building Truth Teller False Confession 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors are grateful to Susan Kim, Barry Cooper, Dorothee Griesel, and Marguerite Ternes for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this chapter.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Yarbrough
    • 1
  • Hugues F. Hervé
    • 2
  • Robert Harms
    • 1
  1. 1.Los Angeles County Sherriff’s DepartmentLos AngelesUSA
  2. 2.The Forensic AllianceBritish ColumbiaCanada

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