Conducting a Successful Interview in a Workplace Investigation

workplace investigations vancouver

When issues arise at work, especially within small companies, it is typically best practice to bring in an external HR consultant like Pivot HR to conduct the workplace investigation. Impartiality and objectivity are built-in when outsourcing to a trusted, third-party HR professional, as it prevents the possibility of unconscious bias.

Sometimes outsourcing is the best option because you can rely on a trained HR Consultant to lead you on the right path with impartiality and objectivity. When partnering with Pivot HR, we can conduct various workplace investigations, such as sexual harassment allegations, bullying and discrimination claims, employee misconduct, policy breaches and interpersonal conflict. Workplace investigations are our bread and butter. Our team will conduct their research with discretion and strict confidence.

Asking the Right Questions

Broken down, the five critical points of an HR Investigation are:

  1. Collecting information
  2. Reviewing the facts
  3. Identifying key findings
  4. Planning corrective action
  5. Providing an informed recommendation for resolution

For a workplace HR investigation to succeed, the interviewer must ask the right questions. When forming your list of questions, you can develop your baseline with the Five W’s, specifically tailored to the situation.

  • Who was involved in the incident? Were there any witnesses?
  • What were the events leading up to the incident? What happened?
  • Where did the incident take place?
  • When did this occur?
  • How did this incident affect you?

Remember, asking strategically open-ended questions tends to receive specific answers, which helps to tease out the truth of a situation. The interviewer should actively listen and allow the interviewee to speak without interruption or distraction. Focus on taking detailed notes, and if the interviewee consents, record the conversation for later reference.

It is best to avoid asking questions that start with why because it can feel like an interrogation. Interviewees should not feel as if they are on trial. Focus on establishing a rapport and creating a psychologically safe environment. The interviewer can achieve this effect by remaining objective, level-headed and professional. The HR investigator is not there to choose sides; instead, they gather the facts with impartiality and neutrality.

Best Practices

The investigation is not to be discussed with anyone outside of the affected parties for confidentiality’s sake but also out of respect for those involved. When these meetings occur, it is best to have them off-site or in a private setting. If that is not possible, it should happen before or after the workday. The rumour mill is unstoppable; you don’t want to feed that fire.

Taking precautions ahead of time to establish a psychologically safe, comfortable environment for the interviewees is vital to running a successful investigation. Even if it is a routine, non-problematic interview, nerves still run high for the average person. Talking to HR can be scary, even if you did nothing wrong.

Bottom Line

After all the employees have been interviewed, it is time to review all the evidence presented. Ideally, after all of the previous steps taken, the people interviewed were honest and open. It’s not always cut and dry, but that is why outsourcing workplace investigations is so essential.

Trained HR Professionals, like the team at Pivot HR, can tease out the truth from the lies and help return your workplace to an equilibrium. Is your workplace struggling with a toxic environment? Contact our team today!

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