A Quick Read on Staying Focused

LIVE FROM THE ACFE ANNUAL FRAUD CONFERENCE

Mandy Moody
ACFE Social Media Specialist

According to Don Rabon, CFE, presenter of today's session, "Staying Focused During the Interview" most adults can't sustain attention for more than 12 minutes. If that's true, then I promise this will be a quick read.

Rabon, president of Successful Interview Techniques and one of the ACFE's most popular speakers, gave attendees practical advice on how to stay attentive during an interview. He warned fraud fighters that a lack of attentiveness could have a direct impact on gathering valuable information to uncover fraud. Rabon emphasized that attentiveness is just like any other skill of an investigator: it can be learned, practiced and improved.

"We are losing the ability to stay focused for a good length of time," Rabon said. "We only have so much attention currency to distribute; that's why they call it 'paying' attention.' "

Some ways we can be more attentive is to "go to a happy place" when interviewing and, above all, stop and think. For many of us, taking the time to stop during an interview or investigation seems counterintuitive, but, as Rabon pointed out, there is a lot we can miss when we aren't or have stopped paying attention. Things we tend to miss are subtle or overt changes in behavior, critical changes that may lead to a discovery. They don't necessarily mean the interviewee is being deceptive, but it does allow us to direct follow up questions and observe whether the interviewee continues to be forthcoming, or if resistance increases.

Through two attention-building exercises, Rabon showed attendees ways to flex their attentiveness muscles. One involved establishing normal eye contact, providing auditory confirmations like slow, rhythmic "mmm-hmms," visual confirmation like head nodding and the repetition of a communication marker. Communication markers are the signals we give that indicate we are going to stop talking and turn the conversation over to the other person.

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