How do you make a decision? Do you have a plan, or does it happen by chance or circumstances?  Research shows planning is often shortchanged in our processes.

Much like any process there are steps to be effective at completing a task.  The work of auditing, investigating, or inspecting requires planning and certainly decision-making.  Leaving those events to others or simply “winging it” is not a positive strategy, but clearly will illustrate why the end product is unsatisfactory.

If you’re having trouble feeling confident in your actions and wish you had an unwavering self-belief in your decisions, maybe it’s time to look at your decision-making process. Accessing this skill will prove beneficial to every facet of your life, including your area of expertise and interviewing skills.  Decisions made impulsively or without careful thought will not turn out the way you hoped or thought they will, likely because you didn’t effectively plan for them.

Of course, there’s something to be said for gut instinct and even dumb luck. But do you want to hedge your bets or leave your future to that?  What if good decisions were inevitable rather than occasional? Consider for a moment how it would feel to know you’re right before you even act.

How do we do this?  Much like planning an audit, investigation or interview, there are steps you should be progressing through when formulating a decision. Let’s examine what this process should look like.

Start With an Open Mind

Do you automatically have all the answers? Probably not. Some of your beliefs might be biased, faulty, or illogical. Accepting you might have things to learn is the first and most crucial step to making decisions. Take a step back from everything but the raw facts regarding what you’re trying to decide.  Identify and file your unconscious biases from the decision-making process.  Examine the facts.

Get the Facts

Do you have all the information you need to make an informed decision? Are there things you need to learn? What about examining the options? Have you considered multiple solutions? Take time to put the work in to gather what you need to proceed with confidence.  If you don’t have all the information you need, be prepared to get it before you move on.  As with each step here, be prepared to explain and justify your actions to supervisors and stakeholders. This work is imperative for audit, investigations, and compliance.

Predict the Future

Once you have some choices in mind, try to imagine how they’re going to play out. Sometimes what looks good might be a great temporary solution, but you’re going to need to do something different in the long term.

If you make a certain decision right now, ask yourself if this will still be a good decision in the morning? What about next week? Or next year? A decision might be quick, but not right.  Play out the alternatives.  This is not different from interview planning for rapport topics, themes that would be effective, what denials you might face, and how to navigate through the interview.

Get Another Opinion

Don’t operate in a vacuum.  I interact with many Type A personalities that “do it on their own.”  This like any area of planning, is not the place to assume that “you got this.”  Involve others with different experiences and perspectives to ensure the quality and delivery of your decision. 

Do you have a colleague, mentor, or someone you can trust whom you could talk to about the decision at hand? While you might skip this step on the small stuff, it’s worth having someone you trust weigh in with their opinion whenever you make a big decision. They might see something you’re missing, or even just from another perspective.  This is the same thing I consistently instruct in interview and investigation planning.  Don’t operate as an island; you could be missing so much.


After all this hard work, there comes a time to decide and act.  I address this with interview and investigation approach, where almost anything we do can meet with unforeseen results, we are dealing with many variables.  But that planning and action will allow you to adjust and adapt as necessary for success. 

Sometimes the hardest part of making decisions lies in making the actual decision. It’s tempting to go back over the research a few more times or keep looking for other alternatives. At some point, you’re going to need to act. Take your best solution and move forward with it with confidence. You’ve done all the work. Now comes the part where you put this newfound trust in yourself into action.

The best part, much like anything we do with a plan repetition creates confidence. The more you run through this process, the more confident you’ll feel about making decisions in the first place.  This confidence displays itself and credibility is a natural by-product, and these just build and feed back into your abilities to formulate successful decisions.  Much like I talk about with how we ask questions in the interview room, the more consistent we are with applying this across the board, in all facets of our life, the more consistent the results will be.

So, get out there, and look for places to apply this approach to decision-making, and let me know how it goes.  I bet it gets easier and more comfortable with time.

Anderson Investigative Associates is positioned to custom-tailor training to your specific needs.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss the above issues of decision-making or any training need, please reach out to me.  Additional issues pertaining to interviewing and investigations can be found in other blogs and videos that I have produced and are contained in most blocks of instruction that our company presents.

If you have additional questions, comments, or have an interviewing topic you would like me to address, give me a shout.  In the meantime, be well, stay safe out there, and handle those denials.

Mark A. Anderson

Director of Training and Development

Anderson Investigative Associates, llc

114 Loucks Avenue

Scottdale, PA 15683