Law Enforcement instructor
INTERVIEW & INTERROGATION
BE LIKE OPRAH WINFREY!
In my Interview and Interrogation class, I always ask my students what Oprah Winfrey does in comparison to other talk show hosts. Normally, someone responds, “She gives away free shit!” While this is true, I’m looking for something a little more practical. When you watch some of the great interviewers like Joe Rogan, Howard Stern, Dave Letterman, and Jay Leno, they all interview their interviewees from across a desk.
When we think of police interrogation, we envision a cold, dark room with one light shining in the suspect’s face and a cop slamming their fist on a table. In stark contrast, Oprah greets her interviewees with a hug or a sympathetic pat on the back. While we may not be able to offer the same level of embrace during a criminal interview or interrogation, we can still show empathy. By sitting close to the person, with no desk or other barriers separating them, we can gain access to their emotions more deeply than through traditional interviewing. It is rare to see someone cry during a Joe Rogan interview, yet during Oprah interviews it is almost expected for guests to reveal their deepest secrets on national television. Eliminating barriers allows for an intimate connection with the person being interviewed, enabling a deeper emotional connection. This same approach can be used when a police officer is interrogating someone.
This allows her to delve into someone’s emotions much more deeply than traditional interviews.
At some point in my career, I discovered that by removing the desk, which serves as a psychological barrier, I was able to establish a better connection with the person I was interviewing. This also resulted in greater cooperation from my subjects, leading to more accurate details from victims and witnesses, as well as a higher likelihood of obtaining a confession from a guilty criminal suspect.