A few weeks back, I was on a radio show (~18:50 mark) with Los Angeles private investigator Scott Ross, where he asked me about the one quality I looked for in a private investigator. The question came up again in a PI Education webinar with Hal Humphreys titled “The Business of Investigations,” when a listener asked what traits to look for in an private investigator (~42:57 mark).
Both Scott and Hal gave very different answers. Scott said that common sense was the most important quality. “If you don’t have that common sense to take yourself to the next level,” Scott said, “the bottom line is that it’s all for nothing.”
Hal replied that curiosity and being comfortable talking to people were the two characteristics he looked for in an employee. Hal does a lot of criminal defense work, so both traits are essential.
Both of those are great answers. But before I get into what I think is the most important quality and before I get a bunch of nasty comments, hate mail, spam, or an envelope of glitter sent to my office, I don’t think there is one right or wrong answer to this question.
I could make a pretty good argument for a number of skills and qualities. Organizational skills, patience, an even keel, and an understanding of one’s limitations are just some of many good answers that come to mind.
But the one quality that I think separates good investigators from great ones is persistence. There is nothing quick, easy, or simple about an investigator’s job (despite what you see on TV), but the more persistent you are, the more rewards there are for the taking.
What do you think is the most important quality of an investigator?