In a domestic inquiry, which is an internal investigation conducted by an organization to address workplace misconduct or disciplinary issues involving its employees, various interviewing techniques can be employed. The two primary interviewing techniques are:
- Common and straightforward interviewing technique
- Involves conducting individual interviews with each of the involved parties separately.
- The investigator speaks privately with the complainant, witnesses, and the accused employee to gather their accounts of the incident
- One-on-one inquiries provide privacy, allow each individual to share their perspective openly, and reduce the chances of intimidation or influence from others.
- Parallel inquiry is being conducted where the parties are seated in adjacent rooms and the inquiry committee will move from one room to another in tandem.
- This approach is used in more complex cases or highly sensitive situations.
- Beneficial in capturing more comprehensive information, cross-verifying statements, and providing a support system during emotionally charged interviews.
- Tandem inquiries may help minimize potential leakage of information and give less time for parties to tweak their statements.
Other Inquiry techniques
- The investigation might involve a group of employees who witnessed the incident together or have related information.
- Brings all relevant parties together for questioning, which can be useful in establishing collective narratives or identifying inconsistencies.
- After initial interviews, follow-up inquiries might be necessary to clarify certain points or gather additional information that emerged during the investigation process.
- Follow-ups can help tie up loose ends and ensure a comprehensive understanding of the case.
- In certain situations – employees might fear retaliation for speaking up, so an anonymous inquiry mechanism can be established.
- Allows individuals to provide information without revealing their identity, fostering a safe environment for sharing crucial details.
- Cross-examination is a process during an inquiry where the IC, questions the opposing party’s witness.
- It occurs after the witness has already been questioned by the IC who called them to the interview (known as direct examination).
- The purpose of cross-examination is to challenge or test the credibility, reliability, and accuracy of the witness’s testimony and to elicit additional information that may be beneficial to the cross-examiner’s case.
Key characteristics of cross-examination
Leading Questions: Cross-examination usually involves asking leading questions, which are questions that suggest the desired answer or contain the information the cross-examiner wants to establish. This allows the cross-examiner to maintain more control over the witness’s responses.
Challenging Testimony: The cross-examiner may challenge the witness’s version of events, memory, or knowledge, seeking inconsistencies or weaknesses in their testimony.
Impeachment: Cross-examination often involves attempting to impeach the witness’s credibility by pointing out prior inconsistent statements, bias, interest in the case’s outcome, or possible motives to lie.
Limited Scope: Cross-examination is generally limited to the topics covered during direct examination, focusing on specific points to challenge or clarify the witness’s testimony.
Objections: The alleged harasser may raise objections during cross-examination, such as objections to leading questions or questions beyond the scope of direct examination. The IC will rule on these objections to maintain fairness and relevance.
Opportunity for Clarification: The IC may use the opportunity to clarify any ambiguities or contradictions that arose during direct examination.
The main objective of cross-examination is to cast doubt on the credibility and accuracy of the witness’s testimony or to highlight favorable information for the case. It can be a critical phase of a PoSH inquiry, as it allows each side to challenge the evidence presented by the other and helps the IC in their decision-making process.
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