If you are interested in becoming a private investigator or you are a new private investigator there are few basic skills that will help separate you from the rest.
1. Powers of observation - no matter the type of investigation you are working remind yourself to be observant. When interviewing be observant of hand, eye and body movements. Take notice of jewelry, clothing condition and styles. Being observant will help you develop a well-rounded idea of the individual you are interviewing or observing.
2. Research, Research, Research - take time to learn as much about the target(s) of your investigation, where they live, their schedules, habits, and favorite activities. Research processes related to your investigation. You may need to spend some time with your client to understand how a specific job is performed, what tools are used and what are the accepted industry business practices. Research will provide you with the necessary background information to help you succeed in the investigation.
3. Documentation - take notes, write up your findings as soon as possible and keep all of your written information in an organized manner. Developing habits of documenting as much information as possible will serve you well in completing your investigation. Photographs are another form of documentation that are often overlooked. With technology available today taking multiple photographs is easy and inexpensive. Include videos as a part of your standard file documentation as well. "A picture is worth a thousand words!"
4. Interview your client to clearly determine their expectations - Many Private Investigators will assume what the client expects. To clearly determine what the client wants, ask a few basic questions; "What would you like the final results of this investigation to look like?", "What time constraints do you have?", "What information, specifically, would you like to learn from this investigation?"
5. Customer service - To increase your chances of getting a referral, winning additional opportunities from your client, keep a "customer service" mind-set. Communicate with them regularly as to the status of your investigation. Stay in touch to let them know you are actively working their case. Establish a communication schedule and method that satisfies the client. Most importantly, be respectful and courteous in your client interactions. For investigations involving domestic issues, your client will be emotionally involved in the case. Some information you gather for them will be upsetting. Develop a good "bedside" manner with such clients.
Have other critical skills that all Private Investigators need to have? Share them!
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