It’s Not a Sprint, It’s a Marathon: Preparing for the CFI Exam, Part 3

A Newbies Journey Through the CFI Prep Course and Certification… Join Me, Won’t You?

Welcome aspiring CFI’s!  As you may or may not be aware, this series is a rundown of what to expect when you embark upon your journey to prepare for the CFI designation, based on my own experience.  Specifically, we’re running through the online CFI prep course – and in case you haven’t caught on, there is a bit of a theme here…

I often ask myself the same question…

In my last post, I jumped right into the actual prep course – starting with the pre-test and right on through the first three segments: Preparation & Interview Setting, Legal Aspects and False Confessions. A nice easy start with a bit of pressure (re: law class flashbacks/nightmares), much like your first 5K! First race jitters, but once you get through it you find yourself thinking “That wasn’t so bad!” and “I could do that again!” Which is exactly what I want to hear, because we’re moving right along to our 10K distance (insert evil smile here)…  In this post, we’re going to tackle the next four segments: Interpretations of Behavior, Accusations, Rationalization/Theme, Assumptive Questions, and Enticement/Baiting.

I know what you’re thinking – “ARE YOU CRAZY? That is a LOT to cover in such a short time! I don’t have the time to fit in all this studying!” (I’m basically a mind reader).  Just like training for a marathon, learning a new skill or planning a career move, you have to commit to putting in the time and effort to achieve your end goal.  When that end goal involves a test, I’ve always believed that it is better to get it over and done with, instead of procrastinating.  You’ve ordered the prep course, you took the initiative, so why not get it done now?  That six-month deadline to take the exam may seem like plenty of time, but trust me when I say that will disappear quicker than you have time to realize – so let’s keep making some solid headway through this course!

See that Polar Bear? That’s the CFI exam 5 months and 3 weeks from your purchase date of the prep course… and that’s you on the bottom, the procrastinator with some mad surprise wrinkles and fly-aways!

Ready or not, here we go: Interpretations of Behavior. Can we just take a moment to acknowledge and appreciate what an intimidating chapter this is!? First of all – it is one of longest segments in the prep course, and arguably one of the most important (though they’re all pretty darn important).  Everything we learn to do in our interviews and interrogations involve some form of observed behavior displayed by our subject. Just take a moment to reflect on what you think you already know about behavior.  How many of you have been told/taught that if a person looks a certain way, scratches their nose, or crosses their arms, it means they are lying?  Most of us have, and thus we already have some bias towards behavior analysis.  Newsflash people – behavioral analysis is NOT that simple, which this chapter will make VERY clear to you.  Will this chapter make you a human lie detector?  NO!  That’s not the goal, nor should it be yours, because the truth is there is no such thing!  There are so many different factors that you have to take into consideration during your interview or interrogation that a summary here will not even come close to doing it justice.  What I will share is that there is no singular behavior that is wholly indicative of truth or deception.  I cannot stress enough how important it is for you to take the time to thoroughly go through this segment and ensure your full comprehension of the subject matter.  With videos, re-reading, and taking the practice questions a couple times I think I spent closer to two hours on this segment.  Please don’t cheat yourself on this chapter and breeze through it with that Sunday night football game on in the background.

You Always Know What You Think You Saw, But You Never Know What You Did Not See.

The Accusations segment starts with suggestions on what to take into consideration prior to starting your interrogation – factors to consider and behavior traits to review that will help you in determining the best accusation to use during your interrogation.  It then goes through six different types of accusations, including both the introductory statement from the WZ method and the participatory method.  This chapter also briefly touches on the difference between an emotional and a rational decision to confess. Overall a shorter chapter (about 45 – 60 minutes for me to review and go through the questions multiple times), but prior to this review I was not fully aware or able to singularly identify the different types of accusations – so eye opening for me.

Now the REAL biggie: Rationalization/Theme.  This segment is tied for the longest with Interpretations of Behavior; however, this segment took me the absolute L O N G E S T to review in the entire course.  This segment, like most to follow, cite how important being able to see the behavior you’re seeing from your subject is to determining your next course of action in the interview/interrogation room. It also includes so many steps of the WZ method I lost count (not really, but I’m not going to give you guys ALL the answers here!).  While that is one of the reasons I really liked this segment, I really appreciated the portions that covered the non-emotional offenders, psychopaths and sociopaths, as well as suggested tactics on how best to deal with such subjects.  As I mentioned earlier, I purposely spent an extended period of time on this segment because there is SO much content, a lot of which I had not previously been exposed to.  That being said, if this is not new material to you, you may not put in the same two to three hours (food and puppy breaks included) that I did to review this segment.

Enter the Great Potoo: a real life depiction of me while studying for the CFI. (Yes, it’s a real bird and yes, it looks perpetually stressed out. Google it.)

Alright guys, second to last mile for this post: Assumptive Question!  Another relatively short segment, but boy does it pack a punch!  Starting with the importance of knowing when to ask your subject for their first admission, this segment again touches on the importance of observed behavior and dives right into the characteristics of submission.  It also includes the two types of assumptive questions: choice/alternative question and the soft accusation, as well as which type of questions works best for which type of crime.  An important note here is that, when executed correctly, this will simply lead to the subject’s first admission, which may not necessarily be the whole truth.  Plan on another (OCD) 45-60 minutes on this segment.

And, finally, our finish line for this post: Questions of Enticement/Baiting. (I’m initiating a slow clap for those of you who stuck with me to this point!)  The last mile equals easy mile – as far as segments go for this course.  This segment starts by defining an Enticement/Baiting Question and even gives you a nice legal refresher on Frazier v. Cupp, a Supreme Court decision that essentially allows interviewers/interrogators to lie during the course of their interview/interrogation, SO LONG AS the lie is not coercive in nature.  For further clarity, a description of an acceptable form of a lie versus a non-acceptable form (think threat) of a lie is included.  [Let me a take a quick moment here to note that, while Fraizier v. Cupp does allow the use of non-coercive lies, IAI does not recommend lying during an interview/interrogation – so keep that in mind future CFI’s!]  The biggest hurdle I could foresee is in the presentation of the Enticement/Baiting Question, which of course is addressed in this segment.  With video examples and review questions, I believe this segment took me about 40 minutes to complete – relatively distraction free, as I had given Koda a bully stick to keep him entertained and off the couch.

Alright ladies and gents – high fives for all!  We’ve now made SIGNIFICANT headway through our CFI training and you all are looking great! (I assume… or possibly looking at me with a murderous rage… good thing I’m safe behind this computer screen…)  Either way, we are done for now.  Rest days for all, but don’t get too relaxed – in my next post we’ll be hitting the half marathon mark (13.1 miles) which is a HUGE accomplishment!  Any mile is a huge accomplishment, to be honest, just as making an investment in yourself and your future is a monstrous accomplishment.  So pat yourself on your back, stay the course, and next time we’ll knock out the following segments: Handling Denials, Obtaining the Statement, Telephone Interviewing, Fact Gathering, and Sexual Harassment.

Running and studying are a good way to set yourself on fire, in a good way! (Please note: I am NOT suggesting you literally set yourself on fire…)