It’s Not a Sprint, It’s a Marathon: Preparing for the CFI Exam, Part 4

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

Hello aspiring CFI’s, and anyone else who thought this looked like an interesting blog! As you may or may not be aware, this blog series is run down 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 in this series…

My last post completed what I deemed the equivalency of a “10K” distance, by reviewing the following segments: Interpretations of Behavior, Accusations, Rationalization/Theme, Assumptive Question, and Enticement/Baiting. By now you all should be getting the hang of this run down and, fingers crossed, are realizing just how manageable the review is and how easily you can fit it into your daily/weekly life! (Much like those short daily/weekly runs I’m sure you all have incorporated as well, thanks to my awesome powers of suggestion.)

You too will be this happy when you finally get your CFI! (and run your first marathon!)

As previously mentioned, this entry is going to be considered our “Half Marathon” distance – that’s 13.1 miles for those of you keeping track.  I will be covering the next six segments in the review: Handling Denials, Obtaining the Statement, Telephone Interviewing, Fact Gathering, and Sexual Harassment Interviewing.  Six segments, people.  Admittedly, that is a lot.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: do not let the distance, or in this case the material, intimidate you!  If you all have been keeping pace with these blogs then you are right on schedule for a nice, easy pace to that CFI certification finish line.  If what I have discussed so far has inspired you to start your review and complete it at your own pace – even better!  I cannot stress this enough – the investment in yourself and your future is well worth the number of hours it will take for you to confidently review and complete the online training course.  I believe in you, and I don’t even know you – so surely you can believe in yourself!

This seems like a good spot to throw in an inspirational quote… Although, I’ve always preferred Tigers, myself.

We will continue our training in this post with the Handling Denials segment… and a horrible dad joke about how Denial is not just a river in Egypt – Bada bum!  Sorry, I had to do it.  Anyway, back to Handling Denials.  Aside from lacking any geographical references (still trying to be funny here), this segment runs the gamut of all the various factors that could cause a subject to deny, including but not limited to the subjects fears, the environment of the interview/interrogation, the interrogator themselves, and even the subjects own biases.  Long story short, as is the running theme with a number of these segments, there is a lot more to what could cause a subject to deny than what simply meets the eye.  The segment continues to identify the unique types of denials that are typically encountered, as well as defines the characteristics of a non-verbal denial versus a verbal denial.  Of course, it also hashes out how best to address any and all of these denials should you encounter them.  Notably, this segment distinguishes truthful denials and how to identify them as well.  While it was a fairly easy segment to review as far as the subject matter goes, there were a good amount of videos – and of course I took a healthy amount of notes.  Total time was about an hour, give or take ten minutes, with minimal distractions – for once!

While you may be inclined to believe the Obtaining the Statement segment will be a cake walk (I admit I did – seems like common sense, right?), do not skimp on your review of this segment!  It initially appears to be a shorter segment, but they have packed a horde of vital information into those chapters, all with notably less videos to watch and many, many more words to read!  The segment not only covers the two types of statements you may get – admission or commitment to a story/alibi/etc – it also breaks down the seven common ways the statements can be preserved.  It also identifies the 7 common avenues for preserving a statement and further details important factors to consider with each method, as well as planning and preparation for each individual method.  We then get a brief high school/college English class (or whatever those crazy school people are calling that class now-a-days) review of HOW the statement should be structured – think introduction, body, conclusion… or the nifty house structure I think I learned in 4th grade; sketch below – don’t judge!).  We then wrap the segment with the investigators’ written report, which outlines why it is important, factors to take into consideration, format, etc.  Two most notable take-aways from this segment: 1. Do Not Dictate the statement to the subject (Need clarification? Check the review!); and, 2. Once the statement is obtained, the investigator should CONDUCT A FOLLOW-UP INVESTIGATION.  Again, that may seem like common sense, but let’s face it – aren’t those news stories about false confessions, despite later obtained or tested evidence, much more interesting than those stories you never see about thoroughly and fairly conducted investigations?  Follow-up investigation, unfortunately, does not always happen, but don’t be that person!  Take the time to investigate the information obtained from the subject, and either substantiate or disprove their statement!  Total time: approximately an hour and forty-five minutes… maybe two hours.  Did I mention I legitimately have ADHD?  It is one of the reasons I get so stressed out about learning new material, and it makes focusing on studying, especially just straight reading,  a bit more difficult for me.

Pictured: The advanced teaching method I learned in 4th grade for report writing. You’re welcome.

Bringing our attention back to the halfway point of this post is Telephone Interviewing.  A short and sweet segment to review, making you feel a great sense of accomplishment – almost like a runner’s high!  I took my time with this chapter since I was professionally not as familiar with conducting phone interviews/interrogations of subjects.  That is not to say that I am at all unfamiliar with telephone interviewing.  On the contrary, I did plenty of telephone interviews of witnesses and complainants in my public sector roles.  Admittedly, though, the dynamic changes when you have a known or suspected guilty subject on the other end of the line.  This segment thoroughly covers the anticipated disadvantages of telephone interviews and interrogations, which helps to address any potential anxieties you may have.  The many advantages of conducting telephone interviews and interrogations are also covered in detail here; one such advantage being that the interviewer can literally have a script in front of them, as well as any evidence they have available, for easy reference.  Another huge bonus for those of you who are members of the International Association of Interviewers – you can literally access and review the Rationalization Matrix while you are on the phone with your subject.  Biggest note here is that since you will not be in the same room as your subject/witness/victim, etc., you will need to hone your listening skills to focus on what exactly the person on the other end of the line is saying and how they are saying it.  All in all this segment took me about 45 minutes to review, with minimal distractions.

We have rounded the halfway point and, as my running groups always say, are heading home!  The next segment is about Fact Gathering Interviews – interviews that, just as this segment says from the get go, are the building blocks of any investigation.  As such, this segment contains a LOT of details, all good refreshers for any and all individuals who conduct a variety of investigations – LEO, HR, LP, etc.  These interviews completely flip the switch on what we have all learned about conducting interrogations.  In a fact-gathering interview, it is vital that the person being interviewed – be it a complainant, victim, witness, subject – do most of the talking.  This segment not only covers how to obtain an untainted narrative, it also covers different types of interviews – including the Enhanced Cognitive Interview.  We also learn about the different types of lies and how to properly use diagrams for clarification and how to preserve them in the investigation.  Lots of information means lots of re-reading on my part, especially as I was powering through so many segments in an attempt to make a dent in this review course.  I noted that it took me about two and a half hours for this segment.

Remember when I said I had ADHD? It affects my ability to focus on writing too. I count looking for pictures as study breaks.

Welcome to the finish line of this entry!  We are capping this post with the Sexual Harassment segment.  Remember in an earlier post when I said it’s important to know the rules of the game, meaning it is imperative that you as the interviewer know the federal, state, and local laws (rules) that apply to your specific investigation?  The same applies here – so if you do not know the laws then partner with someone who does and make sure you not only know them, but understand them too.  Most of us have a general understanding of what constitutes sexual harassment, but I think most of us are guilty of only thinking of sexual harassment in the quid pro quo context.  I got news for you: a hostile work environment is also a form of sexual harassment.  This segment defines both quid pro quo and hostile work environment, as well as the different types of sexual harassment: visual, verbal and physical.  It also includes a helpful breakdown of the typical motivational dynamics of sexual harassment for reference.  After taking a break from studying for about a day, I was able to get this segment and review quiz done in about forty minutes.

Alright friends – I’m assuming we are all friends now – we have officially made it past the halfway point of our CFI prep course and we are strongly headed to the finish line!  CONGRATULATIONS!  You may wonder why I am already congratulating you – the short answer is you deserve it!  You’ve made a commitment to improve yourself, personally and professionally, just by purchasing the CFI prep course.  If you have been working your way through it – at my pace OR yours – you’re already past the starting line and there is no other reasonable option than to just finish and obtain your CFI certification!  If I could end all my sentences in this paragraph with an exclamation point, I would – that’s how excited I am for you!!  Unfortunately, I can’t do that because I know it would lead to some positive peer feedback making its way to me via a good, long-time friend of my boss, Wayne Hoover.  (You know who you are – and thank you!)  What I will say is what I tell myself at the halfway mark of every run I’m on, be it 2 or 26.2 miles – I’m basically done.  Think about it – one single step past that halfway mark puts you closer to the finish line than the start.  Maybe it’s crazy runners math, or some weird psychological trick I’ve learned to play on myself, but I wholeheartedly believe it every time I say it, just like I believe you all are so much closer to getting the CFI certification than you are to your peers who are sitting on the proverbial couch, not doing a darn thing to better themselves.  Until next time, continue to pat yourselves on your back and get ready for my final entry in this series!  We will cover Behavioral Interviewing, Field Interviewing, the CFI Practice Exam and the whole reason you’ve stuck with me through all these silly running memes – THE CFI EXAM!

It’s almost over, promise.