The Interview Process

Preparing the Interview Site

1. To help manage the stress of the interview, have materials available that the interviewee can

handle and touch, such as drawing paper, pencils, and stress balls. Of course, do not include any item that could be used as a weapon.

Introducing Yourself

1. Introduce yourself calmly and politely.

2. Offer to shake hands, but let the victim choose whether to do so.

3. Let the victim introduce himself or herself to you if he or she chooses to do so.

 4. Explain to the care provider what will happen during the interview and about how long he or she can expect to wait. Let the care provider know you are trained in working with individuals with disabilities.

5. Inform the care provider that the victim must be interviewed alone to ensure a forensically sound interview. Provide more information as needed to make sure that the care provider understands, which will facilitate an easier separation and good case management.

6. Tell the victim where you will be taking him or her and for how long.

7. Guide the victim to the interview site. If it is possible for you to go first and have the victim follow you, this may make him or her feel more comfortable. If this violates policy regarding officer safety, let the victim go first, but provide adequate directions along the way (e.g., at the next hallway, we will turn left).

 Providing for the Victim’s Needs


1. Make sure the victim is comfortable.

2. Provide water or another beverage and indicate where the rest room is before starting the .interview.

 3. Do not touch the interviewee. Some individuals are highly sensitive to being touched. It is okay, however, to ask to shake hands briefly.

4. Only the victim and interviewer should be in the room, with the obvious exception of an inter-preter or facilitator.

5. If your jurisdiction allows a support person to remain silently in the room with the victim, this may improve interview outcome.

6. Ask the victim directly for his or her consent to be interviewed today.

 7. Tell the victim if you are audiotaping or videotaping the interview, and explain why you are .doing so. Ask for the victim’s consent before you begin recording. 8. Tell the victim that you will be taking breaks from time to time and that he or she may ask for a break at any time.

Developing Rapport

1. Use your standard interviewing protocol.

2. Explain who you are and the purpose for having the victim talk with you.

3. Explain what will happen after the talk. 4. Explain what is happening at each step.

 Signals and Control


1. Watch for signs of stress. If the individual begins to demonstrate signs of stress that are typical

for the disability, respond by changing the subject or calling for a break. Signs of stress could include increased withdrawal, distraction (looking around), fidgeting, humming, groaning, rocking, hand wringing, leg swinging, tapping, and not answering questions, to name a few.

 2. If separation from the parent or care provider causes too much stress, take it slower, and allow the parent or care provider in the room for a getting-to-know-you moment. This may be the only thing that is accomplished in the first visit.

 3. Be prepared for multiple short interviews.

4. Be aware of behaviors that may be new to you as an interviewer but normal for the interviewee.


U.S. Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs: Office for Victims of Crime (2011). Victims with  disabilities: The forensic interview: Techniques for interviewing victims with communication and/or cognitive disabilities-Trainer’s guide.