Question Sandwich: A Practical Technique to use in a HR Investigation
A double-stacked sandwich on a plate

The Question Sandwich: A Practical Technique to use in a HR Investigation

When chairing a HR investigation, there are three main issues we come across:

  1. Managers aren’t completely clear about what they are looking into
  2. They don’t plan their questions effectively
  3. They struggle with structure

You will have heard of using the traditional ‘question funnel’ to address this. We cover that in more detail here. But this ‘question sandwich’ technique goes a step further and it’s one of our most popular tools for three reasons:

  • It provides a structured way to cover all the points required to be investigated
  • It means that investigators are much less likely to stray off-piste when they receive an answer they don’t expect
  • It makes the HR investigation feel more like a natural conversation for everyone involved

How to Make your HR Investigation Sandwich

Question Examples:

If we wanted to explore a witness’s whereabouts, we could start with the closed question:

‘Were you on site?’

This would establish the basic position. Then use an open question funnel as the ‘filling’ to your sandwich. For example:

“Tell me what happened when you first arrived on site that day?”
“What happened next?”
“Who exactly was involved?”
“When precisely did this occur?”

Finish up with your final slice: a closed question to establish that you have covered everything you need to cover. Something like: “did anyone say any more about it after that?”.

From there, you can move on to your next sandwich to continue to uncover other bits of the story.

We cover this technique and how to use in our investigations training. For support on how to open and close investigations effectively, we’ve written a guide here.

Questions about how you can use this technique? Talk to our learning team here.

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