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What Makes a Good Detective

That’s a great question – what traits make a good detective? It is one you should ask yourself if you are considering becoming a detective. In a nutshell: being a detective is the search for truth. While that isn’t always so clear cut (what if your client doesn’t want the truth?), it is generally the rule.

Detectives dig up all the facts possible and form sound conclusions based on those facts. Forewarning: cracking a case isn’t always pretty!

The Personal Traits of What Makes a Good Detective / Investigator:

The following are good general detective traits. As you know, there are different detective types though and some of these apply more to certain detectives than others. Forensic detectives require an incredibly high attention to detail. Others like solitude and adaptability apply more to PI’s.

  • High attention to detail – Going through garbage. Pouring over mountains of paperwork. Analysing a room to find that single hair or that floorboard that is slightly off. It’s not always glamorous , but good detectives actually relish how much the little things count.
  • Fast thinker – You have to be able to think on the spot, often when it really matters! Detective work rarely goes as planned and while I don’t want to be overly dramatic, the ability to think both quickly and creatively could save your life.
  • Have a cool head. You can’t let your ego or emotions jeopardize the investigation or the clients – ever! Another way to put this is, you need to maintain an extremely high level of professionalism.
  • Patience – Watching a door, a street – whatever, for hours on end for that one moment you can’t afford to miss.
  • Objective Problem Solver – Stick to the facts. Do not give into hunches, emotions, or laziness when making conclusions.
  • Adaptable – Yes, you probably will pee in a bottle.
  • Comfortable With One’s Solitude - Especially true for private investigators.

So, are you a Good Detective?

You’ve been hired as a private investigator in a murder case. A man is dead, and the wife is suspected. Your job is simply to tail her and be on the lookout for strange behaviour. You’ve been following her for two weeks. You’re filling up for gas when suddenly she appears in your face!

“You’ve been following me haven’t you? You SUCK at your job buddy!”

How do you respond?

  1. “Actually, yes, and on top of you being a murderer, I find you quite obnoxious!”
  2. “Um… um… I was just… following… that other person and then… my car… and then you… WELP SEE YOU LATER!”
  3. “Listen lady, I’ve been on you for TWO WEEKS and you haven’t noticed until now, so I’d say I’m pretty damn good at my job!”
  4. “I’m sorry, but you’re mistaken. I’m just filling up my car. Have a nice day!”
Maybe it’s obvious (number four smarty!), but this is exactly the kind of surprise you have to be ready for. And when it does arise, keeping a cool head, thinking on the spot, and placing the case above all else!

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