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Investigation vs. Interrogation: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 5, 2023
Investigation is the process of examining a situation to uncover facts, while interrogation is the act of formally questioning someone, often in a legal context.

Key Differences

An investigation is a systematic process of examining, studying, or inquiring into a situation or event to uncover facts or information. It involves gathering and analyzing data, which can range from physical evidence to digital records. Interrogation, in contrast, specifically involves questioning individuals, usually in a formal and structured manner, often by law enforcement or legal professionals.
Investigations are broader in scope and may include various methods such as surveillance, forensic analysis, and research. They are conducted to gather a comprehensive understanding of an incident or issue. Interrogation, however, is more focused, aiming to obtain specific information or confessions from individuals, often relating to a particular event or crime.
In the context of law enforcement, an investigation is the overall process of examining a crime, which may lead to interrogations as a part of it. Interrogation is a tool used within an investigation, primarily when there is reason to question specific persons related to the case.
Investigations can be conducted in various fields, not just in criminal or legal scenarios, such as scientific research or business audits. Interrogation, however, is mostly associated with legal and criminal contexts, involving a formal and often intense questioning process.
The goal of an investigation is to uncover truth or facts, which may or may not involve interaction with people directly involved. Interrogation's aim is more direct, seeking answers or admissions from people through questioning.

Comparison Chart


Broad examination of a situation or event
Focused questioning of individuals


Gathering data, forensic analysis, research
Structured, formal questioning


Various fields (legal, scientific, business)
Primarily legal and criminal


Includes various activities to uncover facts
Specific tool within an investigation


To uncover truth or information
To obtain specific information or confessions

Investigation and Interrogation Definitions


Investigation is the systematic study of an event to discover information.
The police launched an investigation into the bank robbery.


Interrogation is the act of formally questioning someone, often in a legal context.
The suspect was taken in for interrogation by the police.


Investigations can be conducted in various professional fields.
The company conducted an internal investigation into alleged misconduct.


Interrogation involves structured questioning techniques.
The FBI agent used advanced interrogation techniques to gather intelligence.


It seeks to establish facts and reach conclusions.
The investigation into the accident concluded that it was caused by human error.


It aims to obtain information or a confession.
The interrogation led to a crucial confession that solved the case.


It involves gathering evidence and analyzing data.
The scientific investigation helped uncover new facts about the disease.


Interrogation can be a critical tool in criminal investigations.
The interrogation of the witnesses provided new insights into the investigation.


Investigation can involve interviewing people and collecting physical evidence.
The detective's investigation involved talking to witnesses and collecting forensic evidence.


It is typically conducted by law enforcement or legal professionals.
The lawyer prepared his client for the police interrogation.


The act or process of investigating
A politician under investigation.


To examine by questioning formally or officially.


A careful examination or search in order to discover facts or gain information.


(Computers) To transmit a signal for setting off an appropriate response.


The act of investigating; the process of inquiring into or following up; research, especially patient or thorough inquiry or examination
The investigation into the crime has led to various leads as well as plenty of dead ends.
Despite thorough investigation, the perpetrator of the attacks remains unknown.
Carry out an investigation
The matter is awaiting investigation
The case is still under investigation.


The act of investigating; the process of inquiring into or following up; research; study; inquiry, esp. patient or thorough inquiry or examination; as, the investigations of the philosopher and the mathematician; the investigations of the judge, the moralist.


An inquiry into unfamiliar or questionable activities;
There was a congressional probe into the scandal


The work of inquiring into something thoroughly and systematically


Can an investigation be confidential?

Yes, many investigations are confidential, especially in legal or sensitive matters.

Is evidence important in an investigation?

Absolutely, gathering and analyzing evidence is a key part of most investigations.

What is an investigation?

An investigation is a systematic inquiry to discover facts or information.

Who conducts investigations?

They can be conducted by law enforcement, researchers, or organizations.

Can investigations be conducted by private individuals?

Yes, private investigators often conduct investigations.

What skills are important in an investigation?

Critical thinking, attention to detail, and analytical skills are crucial.

How long can an investigation last?

It varies greatly, from days to years, depending on the complexity.

Are investigations always legal?

Legal investigations must follow laws and regulations, but illegal investigations can occur.

What are common types of investigations?

Common types include criminal, scientific, and academic investigations.

Is interrogation a part of an investigation?

It can be a component, especially in criminal investigations.

How long can an interrogation last?

The duration varies, but there are often legal limits to prevent undue duress.

What techniques are used in interrogation?

Techniques include direct questioning, psychological strategies, and sometimes deception.

Are there rights for those being interrogated?

Yes, such as the right to remain silent or to have legal representation.

What is an interrogation?

Interrogation is the process of questioning someone, often to obtain information or a confession.

Who usually conducts interrogations?

Typically, law enforcement or military personnel conduct interrogations.

Can anyone be interrogated?

Generally, people who are suspected of having relevant information are interrogated.

Can interrogation lead to false confessions?

Yes, especially if improper methods are used, it can result in false confessions.

What is the goal of an investigation?

The goal is to uncover truth, find facts, and reach conclusions.

Are there rules governing interrogation?

Yes, there are legal and ethical guidelines that must be followed.

Can an interrogation be forceful?

Forceful interrogation methods are controversial and often considered unethical or illegal.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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