The Latent Cause Analysis

Go Page Interview Guidelines

Eyewitness Interview Guidelines

  • Understand their Perspective

    • Who is this person (name, function)?

    • Learn a little more about their background.

    • Where were they physically standing (sitting, etc.) as an eyewitness?

    • If they were not immediately aware of the incident, how did they become aware?

    • If they were not immediately present, when did they arrive?

    • Who else was present?


  • Take them Step-by-Step through their involvement, capturing their Senses.

    • Note 1: Let them lead you. Do NOT lead them.

    • Note 2: When they mention any of their senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste), slow down and probe them.

    • Tell the person that you'd like to take them step-by-step through their involvement in very small steps.

    • Tell them to start before the incident. Use your judgment as to minutes, hours, or days before the incident.

    • Start the questioning with either:

      • "What happened first," or

      • "What did you do first?"

    • The standard follow-up question is always:

      • "And then what?"

  • Exceptions to the standard follow-up question:

    • If you do not understand why they did something, ask "why did you do that?"

    • If they mention anything about their senses, slow down and probe all their senses.

  • Do your best to capture a time-line as the interviewee is explaining the above sequence.  Note:  Asking "what happened first, and then what, and then what" WILL document the time line from their perspective.

  • Ask them WHY they think the incident occurred.

    • Be curious.

    • Probe each of their responses.

    • Ask them why they think what they think, i.e., listen for any evidence that might have led them to their conclusions.

    • Ask them "what were the warning signs?" There are always warning signs.

  • Probe their Latency Issues.

    • Tell the interviewee to forget about this particular incident.

    • Ask him/her to think about their role, in general.

    • Say "I wonder what it's like being you, in your role?" Tell them "I'd like to understand what it might feel like to walk in your shoes during a typical day."

    • After they think about it for a while, say "Are there any general frustrations about being you (in your role) that you can share with me?" This is called the "As-Is" state.

    • After they tell you about a frustration, say "How would you like it to be," or, "what would it look or feel like if this frustration was not present?" This is called the "As-Desired" state.

    • Capture the "As-Is" versus "As-Desired" for each frustration.

    • Finally, ask them to think about the incident again -- and then rate each frustration for its influence on the incident (0 to 5, 5 high). Make sure you understand the reasoning behind their ratings.

  • Summarize the interview with the interviewee.

    • Re-state what you learned from the interviewee. Allow the interview to make corrections if needed.

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