by Strategic HR Partners


by Strategic HR Partners

Workplace Investigations

For a workplace investigation, interviews are crucial to a fair outcome. Done correctly, they can uncover essential information and corroborate a co-worker’s account of wrongdoing. Performed poorly or getting the facts wrong can lead to serious consequences for a company including substantial damage or back pay awards and even full reinstatement of an employee. Investigation interviews can also be uncomfortable or intimidating for employees who fear retaliation should they report the misconduct in the first place.

Follow these tips for a proper guide to conducting a workplace investigation:

1. Interview the right people at the right time:

To thoroughly and accurately ascertain the facts of any employee misconduct allegation, human resources (HR) or the professional assigned to do the investigation interview, will need to interview both the employee making the accusation, or complainant, and the employee accused of misconduct. Human resources must also determine if there are any witnesses and interview them.

2. Explain to the person why (s)he is being interviewed:

Before the interview begins, the person conducting the interview must inform the interviewee why (s)he is being interviewed and the nature of the complaint. In general, it is not appropriate or advisable to provide a witness with specifics regarding the allegation. Let them know that you will be asking questions related to an incident in the workplace but may not be able to provide complete details to ensure confidentiality and respect for all involved.

3. Follow company interview procedures:

Every organization should have HR policies that clearly outline workplace investigation protocol. Sometimes those guidelines will specify requirements for an investigation interview. Typically only certain HR professionals or managers are deemed qualified, and therefore, permitted to conduct an investigation interview. Internal investigations must adhere to company guidelines; so before any interviews are conducted, all relevant workplace investigation protocols must be identified and followed.

4. Use standard interview protocols and questions:

Within a workplace investigation, the interview process must be unbiased and both parties treated in a similar manner.

5. Document the interview findings:

The person conducting the interview should take thorough notes and document both the key findings and responses in the interview. The written summary should also include the date and location of the interview as well as the titles and roles of the participants. As important, the notes must be legible, indicate fact-finding protocols that were followed, and demonstrate a logical progression to the interview.

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