Concentrate on those human social-psychological forces that make conversations work. If you do, you’ll formulate effective questions. 

Paul was getting a second chance. The last time he interviewed Betty, a suspected embezzler (see FraudBasics, March/April 2004), he blew it. He expected a confession within the first 10 minutes but inadvertently divulged secret information and offended her. However, before his second interview he had read his Fraud Basics. The results were better: Betty opened up and supplied valuable evidence.

Following are more interview preparations that Paul (and you) can use.

Facilitators of Communication

Facilitators of communication are those social-psychological forces that make conversations – including interviews – easier to accomplish. These facilitators require a basic understanding of what motivates people.

Fulfilling Expectations

One of the important forces in social interaction is the tendency for one person to verbally or nonverbally communicate his expectations to the other person. The second person then tends to respond, consciously or unconsciously, to those expectations. This might be viewed as one manifestation of the more general human tendency to conform to the group and to the anticipations of higher-status people. It’s in this conformity to group norms that security is sought.

In the interview setting, the interviewer communicates expectations to the subject. You should be able to transmit both a general expectation of cooperation, as well as a more specific expectation that the subject will answer the questions truthfully. You must clearly distinguish between asking for information and expecting it. The former is mainly verbal communication, while the latter is accomplished through nonverbal behavior. If you expect the subject to cooperate you’ll be more successful than if you just ask questions.


All human beings need the recognition and esteem of others. Social interaction often depends upon an exchange of social goods. People will “perform” in exchange for recognition and other social rewards. The need for recognition can be fulfilled by attention from people outside the individual’s social circle. The skillful and insightful interviewer takes advantage of every opportunity to give the subject sincere recognition.

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