The baseball Post Season is about to begin, and we can’t think of a more fitting time to announce that we filled our recent investigator opening!
We realize this seems like a non sequitur, but bear with us.
Hiring a new person is an arduous process for every company, but the task is even trickier in our industry because the market for private investigators is generally comprised either of people with very little actual investigative experience or by former law enforcement candidates with too much experience. The former are risky and require a lot of training. The latter often want an amount of money that is too high considering what we need them to do. There are not many out-of-the-box candidates in the middle, and this is difficult when trying to find the elusive “perfect fit” for an investigative team.
Our major epiphany for how to scout good investigators came from the book Money Ball, which detailed how Billy Bean, the manager of the Oakland A’s, figured out how to compete with the best financed teams in baseball on a shoestring budget by finding players who were undervalued. A simple example of his genius was recognizing that walking and hitting the ball both result in the player getting on base, but the player who hits the ball more often is likely to be more highly valued because scouts prefer the crack of a bat. Bean decidedly purchased players who walked a lot but who didn’t necessarily have a lot of hits, and by doing so he was able to compete with the teams who paid more for the other players.
This relates to hiring a private investigator because it is someone’s effectiveness that matters, not his or her star appeal. We care about how well our investigators can get interviews and write reports, not the figurative crack of a bat. Once we recognized what it takes to be a great investigator we began hiring based on those skills/qualities without worrying about someone’s experience in the investigative industry, per se.
How we learned to apply this philosophy in practice came from an American Management Association class on behavioral interviewing, which is a method of interviewing that essentially requires job candidates to provide specific examples of ways that they have experience in core areas that you designate. This class taught us that, before you do any interviews, you should list the qualities or skills that you want in the person you hire and design your questions to elicit tangible examples that demonstrate those skills.
For example, one critical quality of a good investigator is verbal communication skills, so a sample question could be, “Tell me about a time when you had to communicate a complex concept to someone with much less knowledge than you.” By asking this question and asking follow-up questions to elicit the details, you glean a ton of insight into how your candidate communicates. Using the behavioral interviewing method, we develop similar questions for all of the qualities that matter at our firm, from sound ethics to an aptitude for listening. These are the qualities that ensure our investigators will consistently get on base, so to speak, and that allow our team to score runs and to win games.
See, we told you: it’s just like baseball!