Top 10 Travel Don’ts

Like many of you, I have built a life that requires an extensive amount of travel. For those of you who don’t travel much, it’s not as glamorous as it appears and can be quite stressful at times. Because of this, I’ve decided to do what I do best: share what I’ve learned the hard way with all of you. However, it’s not quite my style to simply provide you with a list of things to remember when traveling. (Boring) That’s not me at all, and I think you know that. For me, I find it much more intriguing to list for you things you should NOT do when traveling. The shame of all of this, is that I’m speaking from experience – repetitive experience. Here we go (and you’re welcome):


1. Set 1 alarm clock. Guaranteed not to be set to the correct time zone, even with good intentions. And even if it is, your subconscious will have you waking every hour on the hour to ensure that it goes off when it’s supposed to. **Wake up call + Alarm clock * Mobile phone app = Decent shot of rising within an hour of when you had hoped….

2. Promise anyone you’ll call them next time you’re through their backyard. I know we all have good intentions when we tell colleagues “I’ll hunt you down next time I’m through your neck of the woods.” Problem is we get so far behind when we travel, we’re in a constant state of catch up. Evenings for professional travelers are typically spent in hotel rooms behind computers trying to accomplish everything they needed to do while spending time in the field. No sense in hurting anyone’s feelings by making promises that can’t be kept. **Worst case scenario: You promise a friend you’ll see them next time through LA. You (at no fault of your own of course) forget to let them know you’re heading that way. They send you an email that received your Out Of Office claiming “On the West Coast for assignments” They contact your Assistant asking for you and are told “Oh he’s actually out in LA this week for a speaking engagement at the XYZ Conference”. Let’s just say for the sake of argument this has happened once or twice in the past……

Click here to read more of Brett’s Travel Don’ts

Workplace Violence: It’s Not a Matter of If Anymore…

• Each week 18,000 personal assaults occur at work.
• One out of six employees has been so angry that he or she wanted to strike a coworker.
• Nonfatal assaults resulted in 876,000 lost work days and 16 million in lost wages.

It’s not a matter of if anymore …
When it comes to workplace violence, today the question is when will it happen and is our organization and Human Resources team prepared. Workplace violence has gained increasing attention and focus over the last 10 years with reports of disgruntled employees or former employees returning to their places of employment with violence in mind…

Click here to Read More on Workplace Violence

The Seven Deadly Sins of Interviewing

1. Greed – Wanting too much of something. Wanting the admission so much that one is unable to recognize behavioral clues as to other areas of theft the subject might be involved with. When the focus is just on the admission, it is common for an interviewer to get admissions only on the evidence they had when they walked in. If the first admission you get has anything to do with what you knew going in, chances are you told the subject in some way what you were looking for and that may be the only thing they were willing to admit to. To me there are two parts to the development phase: getting an admission on what we know and on what we don’t know. I always assume there is much more that I don’t know than what I do know. If you have a thief, the biggest question is how big of a thief do you have? If you are so focused on just getting the admission, it is likely you left a lot on the table.   Continue reading Shane’s full post

Put Your Ego in Your Back Pocket

By Mike Reddington, CFI.  I’m going to shoot straight here. When it comes to loss prevention, the question I get the most from HR, operations managers and business owners is, “Why are they so arrogant?”  My answer is typically some variation of “I don’t know.”  To be fair, not every loss prevention manager or executive is arrogant.  However, if your blood pressure just shot through the roof and you thought, “That’s not me!”…well, it probably is you.

I’ve heard several theories regarding how these egos were developed.  It could be from terminating people, from being looked at as the cool job in the company, from the access to confidential information, or it could have generated from the process of interviewing dishonest employees and getting confessions.  Regardless of the answer, it is unhealthy and unproductive.

How often do you like talking with arrogant people?  Do you feel good telling them your secrets?  Do you like to do favors for them or complete tasks for them in your free time?  I’m going to bet you don’t.  To be successful in LP, we have to be great influencers and being perceived as arrogant makes that extremely difficult.   An arrogant approach is often short, condescending, and devoid of empathy.  Arrogant people typically don’t concern themselves with the needs and feelings of others, believe they know everything and don’t accept outside ideas or strategies.  Arrogance alienates.

So let’s get positive.  The important question now is, “How do we come across as humble?”  Here are some ideas:

  • Make the conscious decision to put your ego in your back pocket.  Decide to put other people and perspectives in front of yours.
  • Don’t forget your roots.  We have all struggled at some point.  We have all held different positions in the food chain.  Don’t ever forget that.
  • Own up to it when you make a mistake.  The faster the better.  Don’t try and put it off on anyone else.  Being wrong isn’t typically a bad thing…being a jerk about it is.
  • Even better, take the hit for other people.  Especially those that work for you..
  • Be self-deprecating.  Seriously… make fun of yourself when you say or do something dumb.  It is endearing and people will appreciate it.
  • Don’t take credit for other people’s work.  In fact, give other people credit for your work when they assist you with it.
  • Say “Thank you” as often as possible.  A great way to show your humility is to show appreciation for the efforts and actions of others.
  • Make some sacrifices.  Take a couple tough tasks that you really don’t want to do.  Other people will take notice.
  • Use people’s names when you talk to them.
  • Before you make a decision, think about how it would affect the other people involved first.
  • Speak with empathy in your body language, tone of voice, and words.
  • Remember, people are not here to serve you.  You are here to help people achieve everything they are capable of.

I will leave you to consider this:  When you get to the top, do you want to look back at a pile of people whose backs you trampled on?  Or do you want to turn and see all the people you helped succeed standing right behind you?

Top 10 Ways to Screw Up Your Next Interview

10 – Assuming tenure equals intelligence

Thinking that tenure equals intelligence is an unfortunate misconception.  Thousands of students and professionals from the private or public sectors have taught us that tenure can often times lead to complacency.  The “been there, done that” mentality can be an expensive one. We must understand that exposure to many types of cases is a blessing to learn from, not a stamp of approval to believe we are the “all-knowing.”  In a field that is more art than science, “expert” is a dangerous title to declare.  We must remember someone is working harder than us, always.  They are professionals willing to explore other methodologies, discover more tools, and become more flexible at times when flexibility is necessary.

9 – Not knowing our opponent

Techniques allow a professional to build a framework.  That being said, without a little homework up front to know our opponent leaves the tank half-empty when it comes to “guesstimating” ideas of guilt transference mechanisms. It’s our job is convince our opponent that we are prepared, thorough, and creating an atmosphere of, “This cat has done his homework.”  We live in a social networking society at this point.  Do some homework and learn who you’re getting ready to chat with.  You may get an idea of why they are in the position they are in to begin with.

8 – Approaching the interview with a “script”

This simply means it’s good to learn from the positive things you’ve done in prior investigations but that doesn’t mean we should rely on our success as gospel.  The fact is, just because we are successful once it doesn’t mean that exact scenario is going to relate to the next interviewee.

7 – Listening to those touting a 100% confession rate

Please don’t be this guy.  If you’re giving your “confession rate” too much credibility, consider the complexity of the cases you’ve worked as well as the overall reason we’re in this profession.  Is it for a 100% confession rate  or is it to find the truth?

6 – Underestimating the power of “empathy”

It appears that all reputable and professional techniques on the market now are built off the art of rationalization.  Being able to provide empathy to someone who has made less than desirable life choices is truly an art form and one not to be taken lightly.

5 – Judging the interviewee for their actions

It’s always valuable to remember that the person you’re sitting across from could be anyone in your family, your children, or maybe even you someday.  Let’s lose the labels we have decided to place on individuals who find themselves on the wrong end of a business conversation.  From a psychological perspective, we want these conversations to be adult to adult.  Not parent to adult, and certainly not parent to child.  Make sure you are taking a moment or two to see the world through their eyes.

4 – Letting our instincts and intuition play a role

We all know that interviewing is an art built from a scientific formula that works.  When we start thinking our instincts and intuition is smarter than the tried and true science we’ve learned, we need to step back and evaluate where we’ve gone wrong.

3 – Playing the “quickest confession wins” game

Too many interviewers put pressure on themselves to close the deal as quickly as possible so they can relax knowing they “won.”  We have to remember that the normal person doesn’t go from “rejection” to “submission,” but passes through a phase of “evaluation” to consider their options during this difficult conversation.  Sometimes pulling the trigger too quickly simply allows the opponent to toss a minor offense in the ring to see if the little doggie will run out and grab it, and prance off satisfied.  If your senses turn off after hearing, “Ok, I did it,” you might be selling yourself short.  That’s when we should be ensuring we have exhausted all opportunities to obtain the elements: intent, substantiate the confession, get a proper document and potentially turn this person into an informant.  Catch your breath when you get there.  Let whatever technique you’re employing that day work to its truest benefit.

2 – Speaking on our psychological playing field

Back off on the acronyms, street lingo and professional jargon.  Speak at an educational level you’re comfortable with and more importantly, one the subject can understand. Take it slow to ensure you’re not confusing yourself or the subject.

1 – Stop learning and practicing

This is a no-brainer.  We’ve got to continue challenging ourselves, building on what we currently know and do and ensuring that our techniques and application still fits current customs, cultures, laws and demographics.  We’ve got to think, “What if everything changed and I could no longer say __________.”  We need to get back on track about prepping ourselves for the ever-present curveball thrown at us during interviews.   We need to get better at “guesstimating” motive, hurdle and potential objections so we sound prepared and confident during these conversations.  Then, we must remember more of the failures than the successes so we don’t become complacent and stale…or worse: dangerous.

Can a Robot Verify Dishonest Behavior?

David DeSteno posted a very interesting piece on the Harvard Business Review Blog.  Dr. DeSteno conducted a research project to test how trustworthy people are and how we decide to trust or not to trust.  After his initial research appeared to identify a specific behavioral cluster that indicated dishonesty he attempted to verify his findings with a robot from MIT.  Click here for the full article and the specific cluster he identified.

WZ Welcomes Brian Killacky, Crimes Against Children Expert

Contact: Amber Virgillo, (770-335-4891)


Crimes Against Children Expert Brian Killacky Joins

Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates to Lead Newest Seminar 

CHICAGO, February 5, 2014 – Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates (WZ) welcomes Brian Killacky to the team as an instructor for the “WZ Seminar on Crimes Against Children: Investigation to Suspect Interrogation.” Killacky will present the investigative segment of WZ’s newest 3-day seminar on effective investigative techniques and suspect interviewing methods for child abuse cases.

Killacky is a world-renowned subject matter expert with a distinguished 37-year law enforcement career with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office Investigations Bureau and Chicago Police Department. Killacky has also provided expert investigative training to thousands of law enforcement and judicial professionals in the sexual exploitation of children, child fatality, child abduction, use of DNA and cold-case related offenses.

“We welcome Brian to the WZ family,” said Dave Zulawski, CFI, co-founder and senior partner of WZ. “We’re proud to offer our newest seminar with one of the world’s leading experts on this subject.  Together we will provide investigators practical applications to immediately implement what they have learned in the field.”

Killacky’s training on investigations of child abuse and sex crimes has been presented to numerous law enforcement and child protective service agencies throughout the United States and internationally.  For the past 25 years he’s been a well-known instructor at the Dallas PD Crimes Against Children Conference and at the National Child Advocacy Center’s National Symposium.

The “WZ Seminar on Crimes Against Children: Investigation to Suspect Interrogation” is a 3-day course designed to enhance the experience of law enforcement and child protection agency professionals by teaching effective investigative, interviewand interrogation techniques of child abuse suspects. In this comprehensive seminar, Killacky will present a 12-hour segment on investigative techniques followed by a senior WZ law enforcement instructor teaching multiple methods of interview and interrogation. This new seminar is now available on select dates as a contract class or open registration seminar.

About Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates

Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, Inc. (WZ) continues to be recognized as the premier consulting and training organization on interview and interrogation techniques. We are dedicated to assisting public and private sector professionals to improve their ability to obtain the truth through legally acceptable techniques. To this end, WZ continues research to provide the highest quality training, products and professional services to an ever-increasing number of organizations throughout the world.  Interview and Interrogation Training Courses by Wicklander-Zulawski  provide human resources, police, loss prevention, and law enforcement with world-class interview and interrogation training certification.

“How Could I Be Convicted?”—Angela Nino analysis of the Amanda Knox story:

Amanda Knox was convicted of the murder of Meredith Kercher in 2009.  The conviction was overturned in 2011. The Amanda Knox story sparked great emotion in the public, both in Italy and the United States, and both for her and against her.  Many have said with great certainty and emotion; they know she did it, or didn’t do it.  It’s difficult to disbelieve something our intuition tells us is true.  Dan Ariely, founder for the Center of Advanced Hindsight, has research that shows people are reluctant to go against their intuition, even when presented with contradictory evidence.

There are three aspects of this case that have been scrutinized: the interrogation, the evidence and the behavior of Amanda Knox.  All situations must be evaluated in totality.  There is no one single behavior or one single act that can conclude innocence, guilt, truth or deception.

The video link is an edited version for the purpose of this article, and there is obviously more to this story than the information in this video clip.

The first time I watched this interview, I noticed mismatched emblems while Amanda answered very critical questions.  An emblem is a gesture that takes place of the spoken word.  Interviewers are taught to pay attention to emblems that don’t match, for example when someone nods their head (yes) and says the word “no.”  Diane Sawyer asks 3 questions, and Amanda nods while she denies.  That can indicate conflict with her answer.   Amanda may have been expecting these questions and the nodding could be an indication of certainty.

False confessions are a real phenomenon, and preventing them is a responsibility for all involved in interview and interrogation.  In the United States certain laws, rights and protections are in place to help prevent false confessions.  Experts on false confessions name some consistencies with cases of false confessions, and some of these red flags of concern are present in this case.

  • A lawyer would make it worse for her
  • Told she wouldn’t see family again
  • Yelled at her in Italian
  • Naming an innocent person is unusual, however pressure from interrogators increases the likelihood
  • Details in the signed statement were provided for her
  • No video

Some people, who are not familiar with the justice system, blindly trust the justice system.  When they find themselves falsely accused, they believe if they just tell the truth, that the system is just, and it will all work out.  Amanda says, “how could I be convicted?” and many innocent incarcerated men and women wonder the same thing.

In the Amanda Knox case, DNA evidence strongly points at another person.  A person who has a history with knives, left Perugia the night of the murder, and is on tape saying he was there the night of the murder.

The strength of the evidence is in favor of Amanda and the interrogation environment is consistent with other false confessions.  You be the judge.  We would love to hear your thoughts.

5 Interviewing Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

When it comes to interviewing plenty of mistakes can be made. No one is perfect.  No one out there is going to get it right all the time.  Learning from our mistakes is what makes us better interviewers and professionals.   At seminars people often pull me aside and ask questions or advice.  Occasionally, I am asked to evaluate a time when something didn’t go as expected.  I want to share with you five common interviewing pitfalls, and how to avoid them.

  1. No rapport – Building rapport with the person you are talking to is critical to success.  Would you want to admit to someone you don’t like or trust?  If you struggle with rapport, it could negatively impact the entire interview.  It may help to create a list of 10-15 questions you could ask to get to know someone quickly.   If they want to know why you are asking these questions, you can always tell them, “I like getting to know someone before I talk to them.”    Also, many books are written to help with communication and rapport building.  I recommend How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.
  2. Behavior psycho- Yes, during the interview we want to observe and interpret behavior, but don’t go nuts.  Behavior interpretation does not mean Jedi mind reader.  When analyzing behavior, we look for concern and it’s our responsibility as interviewers to ask more questions to get closer to the truth.  This is a very common error for interviewers just getting started.  I see it in seminars all the time.   How do we get better at behavior interpretation?  I watch reality TV.  Shark Tank is one of my favorites.  The producers are usually very good at capturing facial expressions.  Watch the show on mute.  All you will have is the behavior.  Then watch the show with sound.  What did you catch?  What did you miss?  What contradictions did you see?
  3. Taking it personal – I understand competitive.  I was a Division 1 athlete.  I don’t like it when the airport security line next to me is going faster than my line.  I like to win.  However, when it comes to the interview and interrogation, it’s not a competition.  If you make the conversation about beating them and winning at all costs, you risk the possibility of a false confession.  I’m sure many of you have heard the quote “Pain is temporary. Pride is forever”.  How proud will you be if you elicit a false confession?   Conducting a thorough and complete investigation will give you the best advantage in the interview room.
  4. Breaking the Law – It’s important to know the laws of the profession we are in, just like it’s important to know the rules of the sports we participate in.  Many challenges that get cases overthrown in court have nothing to do with the outcome; the method of investigation or interview is what comes under scrutiny.  Know the rules.  Play by the rules.  And yes, company policies count as rules.
  5. Treating people with respect – You are talking to other humans. Humans deserve water and the bathroom in this world. You get no extra credit and are not cooler in the eyes of your peers if you deny someone their basic human rights.  And serioulsy….do you really want someone to go #2 in your office?  Anticipate these requests will come up, and prepare accordingly.  Have a bottle of water in the room, so when they make the request you are able to respond, and not lose momentum.   Know what your company policies are regarding requests for the facilities.

When I was a kid my dad told me not to walk behind the swing set when someone was swinging. That was great advice.  However, I learned the valuable lesson when I walked behind the swing and got knocked over.  Sometimes we take good advice, and sometimes we learn the hard way.  In the case of interviewing, I am hoping you learn from the mistakes others have made, and not the hard way.