What Makes a Good Private Investigator?

A question I get asked almost every time I get into conversation with people about what I do. It is also quite a hot topic between many investigators within the industry too.

So What Makes A Good PI?

We have received a few CVs now from potential private investigators looking to work with us so hopefully this post will help to guide anyone looking to get into the industry in some of the basic personality traits I feel are essential in making a good private investigator. Firstly, I shall mention the bare bones of what we really do. Private investigators first and foremost seek to find things. This could be the true behaviour of someone such as acting fraudulently or behind their partner’s back. Other things we find can be family, pets or evasive debtors to reconnect people who want to make contact again. Finding things takes time, persistence and practice. So, the traits I look for in a good private investigator reflect the above. The first trait I look for is;


This one is very important as there is a lot of sitting around waiting, getting negative results in days that seem wasted but the need to not rush in is often key.

Maintaining the concentration levels up to the last moment is vital and takes time to master. Patience varies though and maintaining patience in difficult situations is often the best way to keep everything calm and the investigation going.


Of course, I have to mention curiosity. This one is fundamental to becoming a private investigator let alone being a good one. I haven’t met a single investigator who isn’t curious and often more than that, just plain nosey. When we are instructed by a client we will often look into things that seem completely unrelated but we do this to leave no stone unturned to keep our own curiosity at peace which in turn means we don’t skip anything that could be vital to finding that one piece of the puzzle our client’s need.


Often this is a virtue that is over-looked in my opinion. When I say confidence, I don’t mean someone who is unflinching when they’re in a crowded room or giving a speech, I mean within themselves. We can be faced with some very tough situations where confidence in our ability and decision making can be the difference between a good result or a complete ruin of the investigation. Even the most experienced surveillance operatives still get the buzz of getting in close to a subject during a surveillance task or when faced with a difficult individual for example, whilst out on a document serve.

The one-time confidence has seen me right was when I was faced by 4 men at 2am who thought I was in their neighbourhood as a thief. I was recovering a discreet vehicle tracker on the very street I was challenged. My confidence and composure meant I walked away safely and without any compromise to the investigation leaving the situation diffused and the men happy that nothing was amiss in their street.

Being Open Minded

You must even read this one with an open mind because it isn’t just being someone who is diverse but I mean someone who thinks outside the box to help the case and someone who can accept feedback. Bad and good.

This trait helps especially for finding things out too. Looking at all possible avenues of how to complete the task. There really is no set way of doing things as each investigation is different. Yes, we have routines to guide us but sometimes a little bit of imagination can be crucial.


I cannot stress this one enough for anyone who is keen to enter this industry.

The rate technology is advancing the more we have to keep up to date with it. Online investigations are a fluid ever growing and changing tool as well the equipment available for a physical surveillance team. The changes with the technology (vehicle trackers etc), the situations we are faced with require us to always be adaptable. Especially when working within a team. The best teams listen to all members and use the best options available even if it was brought forward by the most junior member. There is often no place for ego in our teams.

On top of all that, rules and legislation are the other thing we need to keep ahead of to always be lawful.

Honesty & Integrity

Lastly and to me, the most important.

Quite often we don’t actually meet our clients face to face believe it or not. Even when we do, whilst we are carrying out the work, we will be alone. We can’t have people checking up on us and bringing attention on ourselves after all.

As a team we will be located around in different positions so working on our initiative is vital and not everyone will see the same thing. Being honest in this setting is completely key and owning up to any mistakes takes courage and might be a negative but it could save the investigation rather than ruin it.

Having honesty with our clients is even more crucial. Mostly when we discover something they didn’t expect or want we will remain transparent and impartial.

To finish, all we can do is seek the truth. No matter how upsetting it could be, it is all we will find.

To all my fellow investigators I hope you liked this blog post (the above traits are all my own opinion of what makes a good private investigator and I don’t doubt some will disagree) and to all of you nosey ones reading maybe you could have a career change?!

Feel free to like and share, far and wide!

What makes a good private investigator
error: Content is protected !!