Top Ten Attributes of Effective Investigators
Posted by Pamela S. on Thursday, August 23rd, 2012
It takes a special kind of person to be a great investigator. It’s not enough to be smart. If you are a misanthrope, you may be happy being alone on surveillance, but no one is going to talk to you when you need information. If you hold deep prejudices, that will hold you back. An effective investigator is both independent and a team player. If you are someone with a balanced personality and a determination to overcome obstacles, this could be the career for you. The following top ten attributes are characteristics that are inherent in your personality, or can be learned.
If you are someone who is very singled minded and sees everything from one angle, you aren’t going to make a good investigator. You need to remain impartial. Every person has biases, but as an investigator you need to know yourself, and handle your biases in a way that don’t affect the way that you do your job. If you start an investigation with a certain mindset, this will affect the way that you do your job. You won’t be able to think critically and analyse the situation if your viewpoint is colored.
This is obvious. If you can’t figure out how 1 + 2 = 3, don’t even think of becoming an investigator. To be a good investigator you need to be able to figure out what happens when the numbers don’t add up. You have to be able to take all of the information and put it together to come to a conclusion that is sound.
3. Good Communicator
Unless you have good soft skills and understand people, no one is going to talk to you. A private investigator has to get information out of people who may not want to provide it. No one is compelled to give you information, you’re not a police officer, so you have to make them want to confide in you. You have to have empathy and be approachable, but still have leadership qualities, be a good public speaker, and a good listener. You must be able to gain the respect of your peers, clients and other people you will encounter. Join Toastmasters if you need to upgrade your communications skills.
People are trusting you with their confidential information. They have to trust that you won’t reveal this information to anyone. You have to be able to keep secrets.
Having an open mind and the ability to come up with a story at the drop of a hat, or a solution when none seems possible will put you at the top.
Do people complain that you are too nosy? If you are the type who has to look up everything that you hear on the Internet, or you need to validate information before you make a decision, you have the makings of a good investigator.
It goes without saying that if everything passes you buy and you don’t notice the details, you aren’t going to flourish in a job where this is one of the main requirements. You can learn to be more observant.
What good is observation if you don’t remember what you saw? Sure, you can videotape, audiotape, record, write it down, but technology is not the end all. When you go to court and the lawyers starts peppering you with questions about things that are not on the video or in your report, you’ll wish you had a better memory. You can also improve your memory.
It takes a lot of skill to be an investigator. You have to be a jack of all trades and a self learner. You must have the wits to get out of a tight situation, know how to study and write a good report and generally be a keen individual with insight and emotional intelligence.
If you don’t have passion for what you are doing, you are not going to do it as well. When you love what you do, it isn’t work.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.