What Do I Do if An Interviewee Keeps Repeating Themself?

What do you do when somebody keeps repeating themselves? This can be hard because people do this when they're nervous. And so if somebody keeps repeating themselves and it's irrelevant, make sure you ask them what the relevance of their comments is. And that might be a hard question for them, particularly if you're actually a pretty skilled investigator, because if you're skilled enough that they don't quite understand what you're getting at with some of your questions, they may not understand the nature of your investigation or be able to pinpoint the incident you are asking about. So when you ask them what's relevant about what they are telling you, they may not actually be able to answer that, but hopefully that will help them understand that they are repeating themselves.

The other thing you can do is either say things like "if you can let me drive this conversation, I promise we'll get through it a lot quicker. I've done this a lot and so if you let me steer our conversation, I'll be able to hit the things that I need to know about and then I promise I'll let you add in any additional information at the end, but it can just be way more efficient if let me drive." Or say something like "I will flag a place in my notes or finish one binder of notes and put it to the side and say, hey, I took notes on that. I took some real good notes on that, but let's get refocused on the thing that I need to ask you about now." And that is how you can hopefully get somebody to understand that they are in fact repeating themselves unless you drive them forward a little bit better in the conversation.

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