Here are three important tips you should keep in mind when answering the questions of your HR manager or another manager during the HR investigation meeting into your complaints of discrimination of harassment:
1. Never get angry when answering questions.
The investigating manger might be doubting what you are saying or asking you the same question several times. This is normal. Remember, the investigator is talking to a number of people, including those who are accused by you. You can bet that their side of the story is different. No matter how ridiculous the questions are, you must never get angry at the person who is asking you these questions.
Raising your voice or sounding forceful is not the way to convince the investigator that you are telling the truth and others are lying. In fact, the opposite is true. The more calm and reserved you are, the more believable you will come across. And being believable is important, especially in the very common “he-said-she-said” situations, where the investigator has to decide who to believe, which is often not an easy call.
2. Keep in mind what your job during the investigatory meeting is and don’t go beyond that.
Remember – the investigation meeting is not a courtroom. You don’t need to tell stories, argue or prove your case to a jury or a judge. This is not the time to try to convince the investigator of anything. He is there to gather facts and then make his own conclusions. All you need to do is answer the questions that the human resources manager or the investigator will be asking you about your complaint. There is no reason to go beyond those questions.
3. Don’t exaggerate.
You may think that exaggerating is easy to avoid, but it isn’t. From my experience, the majority of victims of harassment, harassers and witnesses do tend to exaggerate, and it’s natural to advocate on your own behalf by going beyond what the objective facts actually show. However, you must try to avoid overreaching and making more out of what happened than it actually was.
In one recent investigation which I conduct, an employee concluded that her manager was going to fire her if she didn’t submit to sexual advances, because he put his hands around her shoulders, while telling her that she was doing a good job. There was no other history of any kind of physical or sexual advances on the part of that manager. This is a typical example of assuming too much that you should avoid in order to maintain your credibility and come across as the most truthful.