Corporate Compliance

Internal investigations: Six tips for interviewing employees

Healthcare Auditing Weekly, September 20, 2003

One of the most dependable ways to determine facts in an internal investigation is through employee interviews. Your goal in conducting an internal investigation is to obtain truthful information, preserve the attorney-client privilege, fulfill your ethical obligation, and minimize the company's criminal and legal exposure. Use the following tips to accomplish these goals:

1. Make sure the employee understands that you are working on behalf of the company-not the employee.

2. Establish that the interview is being conducted within the bounds of attorney-client privilege. Explain that the privilege belongs to the company, not the employee. The company may decide to share the details of the investigation without the employee's consent or knowledge.

3. Remind employees when necessary that they are required, as a condition of their employment, to cooperate and tell the truth.

4. Advise employees not to tell anyone that they have been interviewed or share contents from the interview; this will prevent rumors from flying and future witnesses from being forewarned.

5. Reassure employees that there will be no retaliation against them for cooperating with the investigation or for speaking to the government.

6. Instruct employees about their rights and responsibilities if a government investigator contacts them.

For more information on how to conduct an internal investigation, order the book "See for Yourself: A Guide to Conducting Internal Investigations and Audits." This book will show you how to conduct your own internal investigations and audits, from start to finish. It offers practical advice and real-life examples on how to plan and staff an internal investigation or audit, and provides detailed information on the legal issues involved, such as attorney/client privilege, obstruction of justice, and legal obligation to disclose results. Click here to order.

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