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There is usually no legal requirement that an employer tape-record investigative interviews with employees.  One exception to this rule is that many states have law enforcement officer bill of rights that do require police departments to tape record interviews in an internal investigation of a police officer.

For most employers, however, you are not required to tape-record your interviews, but you may nevertheless choose to do so.  The decision to tape record an interview depends on the circumstances of each case.  Depending on the witness, tape recording may make the person more uncomfortable and less likely to talk.  That said, tape recording interviews does offer several advantages:

  • you have a verbatim recording of what was said in case the witness later tries to dispute what he or she said;
  • you may not need to worry as much about taking copious notes, which can free you to more actively listen to the witness;
  • with an exact recording of what was said you can use advanced content analysis techniques to look for signs of deception or truthfulness.

About the Author

Michael Johnson, CEO of Clear Law Institute, is a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney who brought one of DOJ’s first “pattern or practice” sexual harassment cases. He has provided training and consulting on harassment prevention or investigations to organizations around the world, such as the EEOC, the United Nations, and Google. He is a graduate of Duke University and Harvard Law School.  Read more about Michael here. 

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