Have you got what it takes?

As I'm sure you can imagine, we are frequently approached by people looking to start a career as a private investigator and thus thought I would take a moment to detail what qualities I think the role demands.

By far the most common aspect of our job is watching people. Many people think that surveillance is something that anyone can do, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Leave behind your perception of the traditional private investigator, standing in the shadows with his hat pulled down over his eyes hiding behind a newspaper and instead replace that with a perfectly normal looking person sitting in a car on the side of the road for hours and hours on end.

Surveillance is all about patience - watching the same spot hour after hour for the 20 seconds of action that you need to gather your intel. You can't abandon your position through fear of losing this intel which means the only refreshments you have are those that you bought with you and toilet breaks are non-existent.

Imagine sitting in that same spot for hour after hour only to walk away with nothing (your target often won't perform as you would wish) Only to come back the following day and repeat the same exercise all over again - at what point would you lose your patience?

Most people that contact us don't get interviewed as we can see from their CV for the job just isn't for them, but for those that do, a practical interview awaits them. They will receive a briefing document via email with a fictitious case for them to work. The target will be one of our existing agents and the brief will be simple - follow the agent from point A to point B and record their movements.

Around one in 10 people that attempt this fail for the simple reason that they don't have the patience to do the job. They fail by blowing their cover by getting too close, by losing the target altogether or even in one case following entirely the wrong target for a whole day before contacting us to see if he got the job! (This chap, by the way, wholeheartedly argued that he was in fact brilliant at surveillance. When we bought up the small point that he had actually followed the wrong person for the day, he insisted that this was just a minor detail and argued that the surveillance that he had done had been spot on, wrong person or not!)

Contrary to popular belief, being a good Private investigator isn't all about incredible gadgets, high-speed pursuits through the streets or clandestine meetings at abandoned train stations. It is about being able to remain in the same place for a long period of time yet remaining invisible. It is about blending in to your surroundings and making yourself just another passer-by and it is about being able to pre-empt what a target might do to ensure you don't miss that vital bit of Intel.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to put you off coming into the field but before you do, why not test yourself... Go and park in your nearest Sainsburys car park and covertly note every fourth person to leave the store. Do this for five hours and let us know how you got on.

You never know, if you have a good list you might just end up working with us...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent piece, I'll go and give it a go...............