There are many companies and agencies actively recruiting competent investigators with the tools to perform efficiently and skillfully with minimal orientation. So we asked ourselves whether there were specific experiences, training or skills shared by exceptional investigators. What we found most interesting is that regardless of whether an investigator works for an agency or a private company; or whether they performing investigations as full-time employees or as contractors, investigators who performed consistently well share an exceptional command of investigative techniques, including interviewing skills, establishing rapport with witnesses, etc. and they are well versed in investigative procedures. They also shared some key common traits:
- Analytical. Investigators who excel at their craft apply a consistent analytical approach to investigating. For example, they analyze the administrative file to formulate the investigative plan. They conduct a thorough reading of the counselor’s report, letter of acceptance and other documents collected by the counselor. Good investigators often find the file replete with useful insight, which allows them to formulate a methodical, yet customized approach to the investigation. They continue to apply this diagnostic and well-reasoned approach throughout the entire investigative process.
- Curious. Exceptional investigators share a healthy sense of curiosity. They are driven by a desire to have complete answers to the “who,” “what,” “when,” “how,” “where,” and “why” surrounding their case. In other words, these investigators endeavor to obtain all relevant details necessary to “paint” a complete picture of what happened. They also are generally great storytellers and others, including adjudicators, appreciate reading their work.
- Through. Thoroughness is closely linked and supported by the inclination of these investigators to be curious. They ask questions, re-interview witnesses, obtain additional evidence, follow the evidence wherever it leads, and take whatever steps are prudent and necessary to ensure all sides share their perspective and evidence. They are equally thorough when writing their summary and assembling the file.
- Diligent. Exceptional investigators are hard working and dependable. They are productive, seldom miss a deadline, and they are mindful of the time and resources of others.
- Organized. Most investigators work multiple investigators concurrently. To manage these investigations efficiently, exceptional investigators are proficient organizers. They manage multiple investigations, especially complex ones such as some involving allegations of harassment or denial of reasonable accommodation for a disability, with ease because of their exceptional organizational skills.
In the end, we found that the common denominator among excellent investigators is the strength of their skill set, and that most individuals, if they work diligently at honing these skills, have the potential to also become exceptional investigators. While this is our list, we know there are other skills that go into being an exceptional investigator. What other skills do you think exceptional investigators possess?