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Sample Effective Investigation Checklist

An effective investigation takes time and effort.

Most internal investigations are undertaken in response to a rumor, suspicion or allegation that an impropriety has occurred within the workplace. Virtually every business organization, regardless of size or industry, will face the daunting task of conducting an investigation into an impropriety such as fraud or theft.

We believe the importance of an effective investigation cannot be overstated. An effective investigation will provide the organization with the information required to ensure that the perpetrators are exposed. An ineffective investigation will only serve to cloud the already murky waters within the workplace.

There are five principles to remember in conducting an effective investigation:

  1. The investigator’s role is to find the truth- nothing more, nothing less;
  2. Always act professionally and avoid anger, aggression or sarcasm;
  3. Admit mistakes openly as the worst outcome of an investigation is for a cloud of suspicion to remain over an innocent person;
  4. Ensure that each step of the investigation is within the legal boundaries;
  5. Assume that all documented steps you take may later be scrutinized following disclosure.

Remember, effective investigations take time, effort and preparation. We can assist you with creating the procedure and executing it as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The following sample checklist–with some of the details shown–is the framework we use to assist you in conducting an effective investigation.

Step #1 – Initial Suspicions

Step #2 – Develop a Theory of the Case – The Questions to be Answered

Step #3 – Determine the Objective(s) of the investigation

Step #4 – Dealing With the Evidence Which is Missing

  • Convince the suspected employee you are likely to get any evidence which is missing
  • Do not claim to have evidence that you do not have
  • Identify the evidence which is in the possession of third parties and determine which methods will be used to obtain the information:
    • Ask the party to co-operate and provide the needed information
    • Disclosure under audit clauses in contracts with customers/ suppliers
    • Use the services of professional investigators
    • Use the services of the police or other law enforcement agency
    • Consider physical types of evidence
    • Documentary and computer evidence
    • Banking, financial records, expense account

Step #5 – Other Actions to Consider Prior to interviewing

Step #6 – Consider Action(s) at the End of the Investigation

Step #7 – Know the Background Facts

Step # 8 – Decide where the Interview Will Occur and Setup of Room

Step #9 – Recording the Interview

Step #10 – Decide Who Will Be Present at the interview

Step #11 – Focus of the interview depends on the type of interview

Step #12 – Conducting the suspect Interview

Step #13 – Post Interview Action