Interrogation vs. Interview

What's the Difference?

Interrogation and interview are two distinct methods of gathering information, but they differ significantly in their purpose and approach. Interrogation is typically associated with law enforcement or intelligence agencies and is aimed at extracting information from a suspect or person of interest. It often involves a more aggressive and confrontational style, with the interrogator trying to elicit confessions or uncover hidden details. On the other hand, an interview is a more collaborative and conversational process, commonly used in job interviews or journalistic settings. The purpose of an interview is to gather information, insights, or opinions from the interviewee, and it usually involves open-ended questions and a more relaxed atmosphere. While both methods involve questioning, the intention and techniques employed in an interrogation and an interview are fundamentally different.


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GoalTo extract information forcefullyTo gather information through conversation
ApproachAggressive and confrontationalConversational and friendly
SettingUsually conducted in a formal setting, like a police stationCan be conducted in various settings, such as offices or casual environments
ParticipantsTypically involves a suspect and an interrogatorUsually involves an interviewer and an interviewee
Power DynamicsInterrogator holds more power and controlPower is relatively balanced between interviewer and interviewee
Questioning StyleDirect and forceful questioningOpen-ended and probing questions
ObjectiveTo obtain a confession or incriminating evidenceTo gather information, insights, or opinions
Legal ImplicationsInterrogations are subject to legal regulations and rights of the suspectInterviews may have legal implications but are generally less regulated
Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash

Further Detail


Interrogation and interview are two distinct methods of gathering information, often used in different contexts. While both involve questioning individuals to obtain information, they differ significantly in their purpose, approach, and outcomes. In this article, we will explore the attributes of interrogation and interview, highlighting their differences and similarities.

Definition and Purpose

Interrogation is commonly associated with law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It is a systematic process of questioning suspects or individuals with the aim of extracting information, often related to a crime or security matter. The primary purpose of interrogation is to obtain confessions, uncover hidden details, or gather evidence to support an investigation.

On the other hand, an interview is a more general term used in various fields such as journalism, human resources, and research. It involves a conversation between an interviewer and interviewee, with the purpose of gathering information, insights, or opinions on a specific topic. Interviews are typically conducted to gain a better understanding of a person's experiences, knowledge, or perspectives.

Approach and Atmosphere

Interrogations often have a confrontational and adversarial approach. The interrogator may adopt aggressive tactics, such as raising their voice, making accusations, or using psychological pressure to elicit information. The atmosphere is often tense, with the interrogator trying to break down the interviewee's defenses and obtain the desired information.

In contrast, interviews generally have a more relaxed and conversational approach. The interviewer aims to create a comfortable environment, encouraging the interviewee to share their thoughts openly. The atmosphere is typically friendly and non-threatening, fostering a cooperative and collaborative exchange of information.

Questioning Techniques

In an interrogation, the questions are often direct and pointed, designed to put pressure on the interviewee and elicit specific information. The interrogator may use leading questions, where the answer is implied or suggested, to guide the interviewee towards a desired response. The focus is on obtaining facts, uncovering inconsistencies, or identifying potential leads.

During an interview, the questions are usually open-ended and exploratory, allowing the interviewee to provide detailed responses. The interviewer seeks to understand the interviewee's perspective, experiences, or expertise on a particular subject. The questions are often designed to encourage reflection, promote critical thinking, and elicit personal insights or opinions.

Legal and Ethical Considerations

Interrogations are subject to strict legal regulations to protect the rights of the interviewee. In many jurisdictions, individuals have the right to remain silent, the right to legal representation, and protection against self-incrimination. Interrogators must adhere to these legal boundaries to ensure the admissibility of any obtained evidence in court.

Interviews, especially in non-coercive settings, are generally not subject to the same legal restrictions as interrogations. However, ethical considerations still apply. Interviewers should respect the interviewee's privacy, obtain informed consent, and ensure confidentiality when necessary. It is crucial to maintain a professional and respectful approach throughout the interview process.

Outcomes and Consequences

The outcomes of an interrogation are often focused on obtaining specific information that can be used as evidence in legal proceedings. Confessions or corroborating evidence may be the desired outcome, which can lead to arrests, prosecutions, or the resolution of a case. However, the intense nature of interrogations can also lead to false confessions or unreliable information.

Interviews, on the other hand, aim to gather a broader range of information, insights, or perspectives. The outcomes can vary depending on the context. In journalism, interviews may result in news articles or documentaries. In human resources, interviews help in assessing candidates for job positions. In research, interviews contribute to data collection and analysis. The consequences of interviews are generally less severe than those of interrogations.


While both interrogation and interview involve questioning individuals to gather information, they differ significantly in their purpose, approach, and outcomes. Interrogations are often confrontational, focused on obtaining specific information for legal purposes, and subject to strict legal regulations. Interviews, on the other hand, are more conversational, aimed at gaining insights or opinions, and have broader applications across various fields. Understanding the attributes of both methods is essential to ensure their appropriate and ethical use in different contexts.

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