5 Ex-detective Interview Scripts to Get the Truth Out of Anybody
Everyone has, at some time or another, found themselves in a situation where they know that the person they’re talking to is lying to them, but they are unable to get to the truth.
People lie for all sorts of reasons, of course – to cover up criminal activity or a minor misdemeanor, out of misplaced loyalty to another person, to prevent someone’s feelings being hurt, or just because they get some strange sense of satisfaction from lying and manipulating people and their emotions.
Whatever the reasons behind the lies, being lied to can be frustrating and upsetting, but there are ways to deal with this situation that can give you a better chance of finally getting to the real facts.
Detectives and police officers are, of course, used to people lying all the time, so who better to ask for advice on how to get to the truth when faced with someone lying to you?
So, let’s get to it. Read on for: We Asked an Ex-Detective for 5 Interview Scripts That Will Get the Truth out of Anybody and They Said This…
Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.
Interview Script 1 | “Please Help Me Connect the Dots”
Some of what you said doesn’t add up, can you help me understand what I’m missing, please.
In this template, you are subtly pointing out to the person who is lying that their story doesn’t ring true, without actually coming out and accusing the person of lying.
By avoiding any accusations, you don’t risk the person becoming defensive, so they are more likely to keep talking, and may finally reveal the truth.
Whilst you’re listening keep an eye out for non-verbal cues, if the person say’s they turned left but the body language signals right you know there’s an inconsistency in their story which suggests that they aren’t telling the truth.
The more the person talks, and the more you remain quiet, listen and watch, the more likely you are to get to the truth. Try not to give the person prompts like “so you went out with X around 9?” until you’ve collected enough information.
Interview Script 2 | “I’m On Your Side”
I understand what you’ve been going through lately, and that stress must have been what caused you to behave this way.
In this example, you are starting from a presumption that the person did whatever they are lying about, whether that is stealing something from work, forging a signature on some documents, or whatever.
By starting from a presumptive position, you don’t have to accuse the person of anything, and by empathising, you convince the person that you are ready to listen without making judgements.
Illustrations courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Interview Script 3 | “We Would Like to Hear Your Side of the Story”
[Insert Name] already told me exactly what happened, but I’d like to hear your side of things
For this template to work, you do need to have at least some of the facts from the third party mentioned, even if you are not convinced that you’ve heard the full story.
Don’t be tempted to reveal to the person you’re interviewing exactly what you’ve already been told, as that will allow them to think through some more lies to counteract what has been said.
Instead, let the person think that the truth is already out there, so there is no point in continuing with any more lies. Again, the more the other person talks, the more likely you are to get to the bottom of what has happened.
Interview Script 4 | “Please Tell Me Everything- No Detail Is Too Small”
So you say you were [Insert Activity] at [Insert Time] at which point you saw [Insert Person] can you tell me about [what the person was wearing/ what they were doing at that time] etc?
What is often regarded as unimportant information can often reveal whether the person in question is being truthful or not.
Throwing in seemingly random questions like “do you remember what was around you at the time/ what colour shirt was your friend wearing” and asking similar questions multiple times is tactic used by professionals to detect where someone’s story is incongruent.
The devil is in the details as they say, so if someone’s ‘sandwich at a coffee shop’ turns into ‘drinks at a swanky bar’ the next time you ask where the person was you can best believe that something isn’t right.
Interview Script 5 | “Take a Look at the Bigger Picture”
It will ultimately be better for everyone if you tell me what has happened.
When most people lie, they do it to protect themselves from something, and their main concern is themselves.
By subtly pointing out that their lies could actually cause harm to other people, perhaps their loved ones or friends, you should be able to make them realise that continuing with the lies is the wrong thing to do.
You may need to go further than the example above, perhaps by asking them how they think [Insert Name] will feel when they find out what has happened, or what their peers in the office would say if they knew about the situation. A little gentle pressure, without any specifics or accusations, should push the person towards telling the truth.
This idea also works well when you feel that the person is very anxious about the situation they have found themselves in. Perhaps they have been asked to cover up for someone else’s bad behavior or they’ve got caught up in another person’s lies, and are going along with it out of loyalty to their friend.
When lying doesn’t come easily or naturally to a person, that person is the most likely to be able to get the truth from, as they are desperate to be rid of the burden of lying. Convince them of what they already know – that it’s always better in the end to tell the truth.
As well as these example conversation starters, we have some general tips for handling situations where someone is lying to you and you need to get to the truth. First of all, always make sure that you start this conversation in private – no-one will ever admit to lying if they are in a group of people. Secondly, never come out with a direct accusation. Instead, phrase your questions in a way that presumes you know the truth. As an example, instead of saying “I know you took that petty cash”, try “could you tell me where the petty cash is now, please?”
Another good technique is to show empathy and understanding – if the person believes that there is a sympathetic ear ready to listen to what made them act the way they did, then they are more likely to open up with the truth. Always use the person’s first name too, to help convince them that you can be trusted. Take your time, and let the other person do all the talking, only asking for gentle clarification along the way.
Whilst the TV crime dramas might show forceful and aggressive interview tactics, in reality, this isn’t what happens in the police interview room, and a much more considered and subtle approach is taken. Adopt a similar approach, and you should find that, with patience, you can get to the bottom of any issue, no matter how stubborn or manipulative the person being interviewed is.
At Never the Right Word, our aim is to give you practical examples of how to handle life’s difficult conversations. If you have an awkward situation that you’d like example templates for, request a topic here.
Lastly, if you found this content helpful or want to share your own examples, let us know in the comments. We’d also be delighted if you shared this article and joined us on social media too!
Never the Right Word
Hi there! I’m Amy, and I’m the person behind Never the Right Word. I’m a designer-by-day who’s fascinated by human psychology; you’ll find me learning about what makes others tick through all types of media and good old-fashioned conversation.
In 2019 Never the Right Word was born to fill the gap of ‘how-to’ websites with copy and paste examples showing you EXACTLY what you need to say to steer difficult conversations into positive outcomes.
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