We caught up with ex-infantry and SOA Instructor, Dave Claydon, to give him an interrogation of our own. This was a good opportunity to find out some of Dave’s top tips on how to cope in a high pressure scenario.

Dave Claydon is an ex-infantrymen with years of experience in the field where his greatest skill lied in gathering intelligence. This skill set often landed him in interrogation scenarios which means he knows how to get what he needs.

We caught up with the SOA instructor following his recent stint on Channel 4’s SAS Who Dares Wins programme, where he took part in the final episode and ran the interrogations, to quiz him on his top tips.

‘Despite what people think, there’s no hard and fast skills when it comes to interrogations, it’s all about planning and research,’ says Claydon, ‘without it you’re going to spend hours and hours asking random questions.’

One question we’re always asked is ‘How can you tell when someone is lying?’ but as Claydon points out, it’s not that simple. It’s about context and taking into account the situation a person has been in and how they’re feeling at the time.

‘There are so many things you have to take into consideration when you’re questioning somebody,’ he explains. ‘They may be injured, cold, hungry or they may just want you to shut up so they’ll tell you anything you want. I wouldn’t read too much into that.’

‘They have been taken from the comfort of whatever they have been doing and they’re dumped with some big bald bloke asking them questions, so you have to take everything with a pinch of salt. To really understand whether someone is lying, you need to have something to compare their answers with. That’s why research is so important.’

It’s all well and good talking about interrogations in a military scenario but most of you will hopefully never experience this. That’s why we turned Claydon onto real-world topics, and how we can utilise his expertise to help us in a more civilian situation, like a job interview.

‘Again, I’d say research. Find out, if you can, who the interviewer is, find out what their strengths and weaknesses are, likes and dislikes, and plan your conversation. Always try to engineer the conversation so you end up telling the interviewer a story all about you. That way you’re talking about stuff you know about and you can control of it rather than sitting there and hoping for the right questions to come up.’

And what about the age-old question on your CV, should you enhance the facts a little? ‘No,’ says Claydon, ‘It’s a very, very small world and you can always find out through open-source information what people have done, you can look at their Facebook to see what their activities are and who their friends are and what they like socially. Also, never forget the referees, you can just pick the phone up now and ask “What are they like?” and people will tell you.’

You may have seen Claydon on the last episode of channel 4’s SAS: Who Dares Wins and in that episode a young lad dug himself a hole after telling a lie. ‘If you tell the truth you never have to remember anything because it’s all there, if you start telling lies it’s all about remembering what you said, when you said it and who you said it to. If you combine that with being cold, tired, hungry, injured or under pressure, that’s when you will trip yourself up. If you tell the truth it’s already imprinted into your hard drive.’

Turning to the interviewer, his key advice was preparation with a warning not to base the interview on the CV and what the interviewee tells you. Instead spend more time preparing the interview than talking to the person you are interviewing.

‘You can find out so much more from what they’ve written down and what they’ve said they’ve done. This research will give you an idea of how they will fit with your organisation. The interview is just an opportunity to confirm it, so make sure they are who they say they are.’

Once hired you need to practice good leadership in order to get the best out of a person so we asked Dave for his top tips on that too.

‘The thing to motivate your team is mutual respect and trust, so everyone knows what everybody’s skill set is, and communication. There’s always somebody who’s got an idea and not everyone knows what the best plan is so just have a bit of a collaborative approach and then have a leader at the top picking out what’s the best thing to do.’

‘Good people are hard to come by and if they are frustrated and if they feel that they are not being led properly then often they will leave and go somewhere else or they will undermine the boss.’

But it is still important to be able to have a laugh at work and enjoy friendship so we asked, how can you manage a bit of banter and then get the job done?

‘That’s all about communication again. We like to have a laugh providing everybody knows what the mission is and the plan is and the best way to achieve that then that’s the way to roll. Everybody needs to understand what the boss’s motivation is and what the company’s motivation is and what they’re trying to achieve.

‘If they’re all pulling in the right direction then you can have a laugh can’t you, because life is too short!’

Catch up on SAS:Who Dares Wins on the Channel 4 website and catch Dave in the last episode.


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Over the years we’ve developed a wealth of knowledge in the world of covert operations and combat. Now we’d like to share some of that experience with you.  You never know, one day it may save your life.

So that’s what this blog is about. We’ll have tips on everything from defending against a knife attack to surviving in the wild told by operatives who have lived and breathed the murky world of espionage.

It’s not all guns and explosives, there are infinite techniques and strategies to overcome a myriad of foes without the use of gunpowder. Operatives utilise skills which can be taught for everyday life including reading reactions and gauging response.

You will learn these skills on our missions but we promise to share some interesting stuff on here too. Hopefully you will enjoy them but please let us know what you think.

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