Interviewing potential employees for a job is completely different from interviewing current employees about an office issue. And the latter can present much more of a challenge due to the delicate nature of the topic, as well as the fact that you are unlikely to be as well-practiced in this activity. Here are some suggestions for making the process go smoothly:
1. Be clear about the purpose of the meeting from the beginning and explain what you expect from the employee. This includes outlining the importance of honesty as well as laying out any potential repercussions for false or misleading information. Also, before you begin asking questions, you should confirm that the employee understands everything you have stated thus far.
2. Ask generalized, broad questions and let the employee do most of the talking. This will give you the most amount of information possible and will ensure that you do not give away what you already know.
3. Make it clear that the employee will not be retaliated against for telling the truth. This is important, and it is not enough that YOU know that the employee will not be terminated for speaking with you or will not have his/her hours cut by a supervisor if the employee’s information implicates a supervisor’s involvement, for example.
4. Ask the employee if he or she has any suggestions regarding who else you should speak with in order to further your investigation. Also confirm whether there is any documentation or other sources of information which may be helpful to you.
5. The safe approach is not to require that the employee keep your meeting confidential. While this may feel counter-intuitive, the National Labor Relations Board has ruled that requiring confidentiality could violate an employee’s rights. Therefore, you should not require confidentiality unless you are certain that failure to do so could result in the destruction of evidence, for example.