Investigative interviewing is a crucial tool for law enforcement, journalists, and other professionals who need to gather accurate and reliable information from people. It is a conversation-based approach that aims to elicit truthful and complete accounts of events, as well as the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of those involved. However, investigative interviewing should not be confused with interrogation, which is a more confrontational and adversarial process that aims to obtain a confession or other incriminating information.

What is the difference?

The main difference between investigative interviewing and interrogation lies in their respective mindsets. Investigative interviewing is based on the premise that the interviewee is a potential source of information who may have valuable insights into a case or situation. The interviewer’s goal is to establish rapport and trust with the interviewee, and to encourage them to share what they know in a relaxed and non-threatening environment. This requires a curious and open-minded approach, where the interviewer listens carefully to what the interviewee says, asks follow-up questions to clarify and expand on their answers, and avoids making assumptions or judgments.

In contrast, interrogation is based on the premise that the interviewee is a suspect who has committed a crime or knows critical information that they are withholding. The interrogator’s goal is to break down the interviewee’s resistance and get them to confess or reveal incriminating details. This often involves a confrontational and intimidating approach, where the interrogator uses psychological tactics to manipulate the interviewee’s emotions, perceptions, and beliefs. Common interrogation techniques include making false promises or threats, using physical or emotional stress, and creating a sense of isolation or fear.

Mindset Matters

The mindset of investigative interviewing is more conducive to gathering accurate and reliable information than interrogation. By creating a safe and supportive environment, the interviewer can encourage the interviewee to share information voluntarily, without feeling coerced or intimidated. This, in turn, increases the likelihood that the information obtained is truthful and complete, and that the interviewee feels respected and heard. Moreover, investigative interviewing can be used not only in criminal investigations but also in other contexts, such as workplace disputes, journalistic investigations, or academic research.

It’s One or the Other

In conclusion, investigative interviewing and interrogation are two distinct approaches to gathering information from interviewees. While interrogation aims to obtain a confession or other incriminating information through confrontational and adversarial means, investigative interviewing aims to elicit truthful and complete accounts of events and feelings through a curious and open-minded approach. By understanding the differences between these two mindsets, professionals can choose the most appropriate approach for their needs and achieve their goals more effectively.



  1. “Investigative Interviewing: Strategies and Techniques” by Michael E. Lamb, LaTonya S. Summers, and David J. La Rooy – a comprehensive textbook that covers the theoretical and practical aspects of investigative interviewing.
  2. “Interviewing and Interrogation for Law Enforcement” by John E. Hess – a guidebook that provides law enforcement officers with practical tips and techniques for conducting successful interviews and interrogations.
  3. “The Reid Technique of Interviewing and Interrogation” by John E. Reid and Joseph P. Buckley – a classic textbook that describes the Reid technique, a widely used approach to interrogation.
  4. “Investigative Interviewing: Psychology and Practice” by Rebecca Milne and Ray Bull – a book that examines the psychological principles and best practices of investigative interviewing.
  5. “The Innocence Project” – a nonprofit organisation that works to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals and improve the criminal justice system. They provide resources and research on investigative techniques, including interrogation and eyewitness identification.
  6. ChatGPT was used in the creation of this article. Edited by domain experts within investigative interviewing.