Please meet our newest colleague, Juan Francisco Valverde Lozano!

It’s great to expand our global reach, and it is especially exciting to welcome a new member to the Wicklander-Zulawski team in the process! We are committed to broadening our business in Mexico and are pleased to announce that Juan Valverde will serve as our on-location instructor in Mexico.

Valverde comes to Wicklander-Zulawski from Rent-A-Center de Mexico where he was the Loss Prevention Director Mexico, based in Monterrey. He managed a team of four regionals, a security specialist, and an LP analyst and oversaw 177 stores, three distribution centers, and the corporate offices.

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Go Behind the Scenes with WZ: Assigning the Best Interviewer

A large source of Wicklander-Zulawski (WZ) training material and ongoing research comes from our very own Investigative Division.  Within this division, we get contacted by organizations, both private and public, to assist or lead in an investigation.   Once we take on the investigation, part of the process includes deciding who would be the best interviewer for the case.  All of the investigators at WZ are CFI’s and experienced interviewers; however, some cases may dictate one interviewer is better suited for the case than another.

Taking into consideration that schedules, geographic location and other logistics may impact the selection process; let’s assume that none of that is relevant for the sake of understanding the real basis for selecting the right interviewer.

Here are some of the topics we consider when assigning an investigation to a WZ Interviewer:
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Greetings again from 42000’………
First and foremost, wishing each of you a safe and successful 2015. By the way, does anyone remember 2014 or have any proof it even existed? I am writing this on February 2nd on my way west which seems to be my general direction so far this year. I typically catch the weather each morning in the gym, and grateful my planes have not been pointed east so far. I am unsure as to what sins that coast has committed, but I’m guessing they are severe and plentiful. They are taking a beating this winter. To my inner circle in NY – hang in there, June is right around the corner (he typed smirking while making his tee time online knowing mid 70’s await his return to the country of Texas).

I swear as I age (ungracefully) and keep hopping these birds, all I see is a tally at the end of the year and remember none of it. I put another 100K in the air last year, and I am guessing more of the same for ’15. I went over 10K in January alone already. I don’t see this changing until someone teaches me the professional art of saying “No”. Any takers? No? Well, apparently someone out there is good at it. Sigh. This having a conscience thing equals a delicate balancing act between professional integrity and personal needs. I’m humbled, shocked, bewildered, and relieved every single time a client reaches out requesting for my personal services again the following year. The result is a calendar which, at this point, booked out until late September. I just put something on my calendar for 2016 over the weekend. Crazy, right? As long as I get my 50% a month with my teenage sociopath, my professional integrity drives me to be available to WZ clients and the WZ team. So save me a parking spot at the airport – I’ll be there – just have your people ready.
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Know When to Hold’em or Fold’em Poker: Through the Eyes of an Interrogator

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!  Spotting and properly interpreting “tells” at the poker table is more of an art than an exact science, and it’s a talent that most players acquire only after years. But who has that kind of time?  Dave Thompson, CFI takes his interrogation skills to the poker table and illustrates the similarities of an interview/interrogation to a game of poker through the eyes of an interrogator.

Click here to download your copy of “Know When to Hold ‘em or Fold ‘em, Poker:  Though the Eyes of an Interrogator.”

Join WZ and Dave Thompson, CFI in Las Vegas, NV on March 25-26, 2015 to further develop your skills as an interviewer, and perhaps increase the odds of winning at your next poker game! Click here to register for this event.


Great Interviewers Know These 3 Things – Learning from Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York

Every profession has industry leaders that others look to for advice and wisdom.  There are many interviewers I respect, whose techniques I replicate and incorporate into my classes.

This past year I discovered the blog, “Humans of New York”.

Humans of New York is a photoblog and a best-selling book featuring portraits of people in New York City with a caption about each person.  Brandon Stanton, the photographer and interviewer, started the blog in 2010 and has taken over 6000 portraits and has over 10 million Facebook followers.   He has won numerous awards and in December 2013 was named one of Time Magazine’s 30 Under 30 People Changing the World.

Strangers let Brandon Stanton take their picture and they tell him deep personal life details.  Some of the picture captions are heartwarming, and others tragic.  Some tell a funny story, while others share sad times.  Above all, Brandon Stanton shows a human side to diverse individuals and quickly creates an environment where random strangers are comfortable enough to reveal their souls.

I admire this interviewer for his ability to get people from all over the world to share details that get to the core of who they are.  I found a video clip from the University College Dublin of Brandon giving a talk on how he approaches strangers on the street.

I related to much of what Brandon had to say.  Every week I teach professional interviewers techniques to create an environment where people are comfortable enough to disclose information they most likely do not want to discuss.  There are three things he said that apply to any great interviewer.

  1. To make them comfortable, be aware of your own behavior.  A professional interviewer knows how important it is to build rapport and make the other person comfortable.   Normal eye contact for Western culture is 40-60%, and this means the interviewer’s eye contact should be the same.  If you stare, you could make them uncomfortable, and possibly cause behavior.  Also be careful not to project your beliefs or disbeliefs.  Their behavioral responses could be a result of your projections, and we could misread them.  Another thing to consider is how close you sit to a person.   Invading someone’s personal space can be awkward, and they will likely modify their behavior.
  2. It’s all about energy, not the words you say.  You can say all the right words, but if you give off a vibe that is anything but calm, relaxed and confidant, it is unlikely you are creating the right environment.  Nervousness before an interview isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you are too nervous, it could affect your credibility.  If you give off a tough or competitive vibe, that could cause someone to shut down or get defensive, making our jobs harder for ourselves.  Preparation can help with your confidence, calm you down, and help to create a relaxed environment for an interview.
  3. If another person is there, they clam up.  This made me think of witness selection and how important it is that we choose a witness that is trustworthy, respected, and won’t do anything to make it harder for the subject to discuss information.  If there is a witness, making sure they are out of view and not a distraction during the conversation.  Letting the witness know what is expected of them and what they can expect during the interview can minimize the likelihood of a surprise or them having to make a game- time decision without direction.

What Brandon Stanton accomplishes is nothing short of amazing, but then again, that’s been said about many elite interviewers.

Follow Angela Nino, CFI on twitter @aninoWZ and @WZ_Training.

Curious about where WZ will be teaching next?  Check out the 2015 schedule here.

5 Things Not To Do While Traveling

Good afternoon, friends  and colleagues…I am in my virtual office again at 42,000 feet above the earth and heading due west at a speed of 460 MPH. Wait, hold on…these 900 aircraft models can get up to 530 MPH! Captain, I have a meeting; please put the pedal to the metal!

We are closing in on the end of another year. Folks in the Midwest and northern states have already experienced snow a few times. Of course, the citizens of Buffalo are still attempting to dig out their rooftops. As we southern boys head to golf courses on balmy 78o weekends, we wonder, “Who cares about snow, really?” But with Christmas only a few days away, we are all wondering what has happened to yet another year.

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5 Characteristics of a Professional Interviewer

What do you do for a living? A question we have all received, but probably all answer differently.  In some way, shape or form, we attempt to tell people that we are professional interviewers in some capacity.  After answering this question several times myself, I thought I would highlight 5 characteristics that make an individual stand out truly as someone elite in this profession.

If you consider yourself a professional interviewer, especially if you’ve been doing this for a long time, take a step back and evaluate what actually sets you apart.   The amount of interviews you’ve completed, or how long you’ve been in your position doesn’t necessarily make you a professional.
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More Than Just the Words…

Written statements may appear to be clear, detailed admissions, but are you missing valuable insight embedded in recorded statements?

A recorded statement, either audio or video, can bring additional “richness” to a statement. Let’s look at the additional information one could extract from a recorded statement if it contains the elements of proper written statement.

First, audio/video statements contain subtleties that written statements are unable to capture, such as tone of voice and delivery style of the subject. An interviewer can hear and/or see the person’s attitude, sincerity, and level of cooperation more fully than a written statement can convey. This can also be a powerful persuader of the voluntary nature of the admission at a later time.
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Decisions We Make in the Blink of an Eye – Top 10 Tinder Types to Swipe Left

We take several seconds to make impressions about someone. Right or wrong, we judge people in the blink of an eye.  Malcolm Gladwell, author of “Blink,” discusses these decisions.  He references a study that found students consistently rated a teacher’s effectiveness the same regardless of whether they saw a 10 second, 5 second or 2 second video clip (without audio) of the teacher.   These snap judgments were compared to evaluations after a full semester of classes and the evaluations were the same.

These two second decisions made me think of the app, Tinder. I learned of this app from my 23 year old cousins, so like many of their activities, I assumed I was too old for this. After recently visiting a friend that is my age in Portland, I got to see this app in action.

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Written Statement Key to Positive Verdict

For this national retailer, they were in the middle of the worst case scenario for every loss prevention professional and executive out there. Lawyers and a former associate claiming false confession and false imprisonment.

The unfortunate situation had already been played out in the media.  The retailer was portrayed as the unfair giant coercing a low-level beloved associate into confessing to a minimal loss by using horrific tactics such as lying, coercion, and threatening imprisonment.  As with any legal situation, the company was unable to comment on the facts of the case or more importantly the background of proven thievery of this supposed “innocent” associate.

Regardless of a retailer’s footprint across the country, a lawsuit is the number one fear in the complex industry of discovering truth.

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