There are many investigative skills that businesses have to pay attention to when hiring the right individual. As investigations involving fraudulent activities and misconduct are a common occurrence, such investigations must be conducted thoroughly and professionally to ensure that justice is served and the business reputation is protected. It is essential for an investigator to have the necessary skills and experience to handle such cases effectively. Without these attributes, it becomes challenging to unravel complex webs of deceit and identify individuals whose actions could damage the reputation of the company.

An investigator with the right investigative skills is someone who knows how to gather and analyse evidence, conduct interviews and carry out surveillance without arousing suspicion. They also have a good understanding of the various laws and regulations governing investigations and are therefore able to produce reports that are admissible in court if needed. Moreover, having years of experience in investigating fraudulent activities enables an investigator to uncover hidden details that may go unnoticed by an inexperienced person. An employer who hires an individual with the right investigative skills can be confident that their case is in good hands and that they will get the results they need.

Investigative skills for every investigator

While experience in a similar case is preferred, there are some investigative skills that are a must-have when choosing the best investigator across any case type. Those are:

  • Staying impartial
  • Planning effectively
  • Active listening
  • Great communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Ethics
  • Technical expertise

Staying impartial

An investigator must be impartial as they must approach a case objectively, without bias. This is particularly important when carrying out investigations where the findings may have wide-ranging implications for the organisation and its employees.

If an investigator has a personal or professional interest in the outcome of an investigation, their objectivity may be compromised, which could lead to biased conclusions being drawn. This could result in unfair treatment of individuals involved in the investigation or significant harm to the business.

Hence, it is imperative that the investigator must be able to conduct the investigation without any predetermined conclusion, motive or agenda. This will enable them to collect and analyse evidence in a way that is objective and free from any influence.

Being impartial requires the investigator to remain neutral and not become emotionally invested in the outcome of the investigation. They must be able to set aside any personal beliefs or biases and approach the case with an open mind. This approach increases the chances of valuable insights being gained and an accurate conclusion being drawn.

Planning effectively

An investigator must be able to plan effectively for several reasons, especially when dealing with businesses, employees and possibly workplace politics. Firstly, effective planning ensures that the investigation is conducted in an organised and coherent manner. This means that the investigator can identify the scope of the investigation, determine the required resources and allocate them appropriately. The issue is clearly understood and the investigator knows what they need to start the process.

Secondly, effective planning helps to reduce the risk of errors, omissions and inconsistencies in the investigative process. This is important because such mistakes can lead to inaccurate findings, which can negatively impact the reputation of the business as well as the workplace culture. Additionally, mistakes can also result in legal repercussions, which can be very costly for the organisation.

Thirdly, effective planning enables the investigator to conduct a thorough and comprehensive investigation. This involves the development of a clear and concise investigative plan that outlines the objectives, methods, and timeline for the investigation. With a well-crafted plan, the investigator can collect and analyse all relevant information and address any gaps or inconsistencies.

Active listening

Active listening is one of the most important investigative skills. A workplace investigator needs to possess outstanding active listening skills to excel in their role. Active listening involves paying attention to verbal and nonverbal cues and asking relevant questions. By doing so, the investigator can gather valuable information from witnesses or victims and understand the case facts better.

Active listening also helps the investigator build trust with the person they are interviewing, which is crucial to eliciting reliable information. It demonstrates empathy towards the speaker, which can be beneficial in getting them to open up and discuss sensitive issues.

Active listening also enables the investigator to identify inconsistencies in the information provided and clarify any misunderstandings that may arise. This helps ensure that the investigation is thorough and accurate, and that any conclusions or recommendations made are based on sound evidence and not just assumptions.


Problem-solving requires the combination of a few investigative skills. A workplace investigator must be excellent at problem-solving because their main objective is to identify and resolve conflicts within the workplace. Without strong problem-solving skills, an investigator may not be able to fully understand the complex issues at hand and identify the root causes of the problem.

Effective problem-solving requires a systematic and analytical approach, as well as the ability to communicate effectively with all parties involved. This is essential in order to build trust, maintain confidentiality and ensure that the results of the investigation are fair and objective.

investigative skills

Critical thinking

Investigative skills such as critical thinking are essential for investigators because they can approach cases with an open mind and objectively analyse evidence. Without critical thinking, investigators may rely on assumptions or preconceived notions, which can lead to inaccurate conclusions and hinder the progress of the investigation. Critical thinking helps investigators evaluate circumstances and evidence logically and methodically, reducing the risk of drawing incorrect conclusions.

It is ranked among the most important investigative skills as it enables professionals to make informed decisions, confirm their findings and adjust their opinions when presented with new evidence or information. Critical thinking also allows investigators to identify gaps or discrepancies in evidence and determine whether further investigation is necessary. Therefore, having excellent critical thinking skills is crucial for investigators to maximise their effectiveness and credibility while conducting investigations.


Ethics is not necessarily a part of investigative skills but a crucial quality to have. This is because investigators are often dealing with sensitive information and personal circumstances of people that need to be kept confidential. Hence, they should act in accordance with the ethical standards that govern workplace investigations to preserve the integrity of their work. The motivation to act ethically is a crucial personal quality of an investigator, however in some complex or sensitive situations, the ability to assess the situation and determine the ethical (or most ethical) course of action is an important additional skill.

Additionally, investigators need to be ethical because their findings are often relied upon in legal proceedings. If an investigator is found to have breached ethical standards, it could lead to the dismissal of their evidence, which could have significant implications for the outcome of a case. Being ethical helps an investigator to establish trust with their clients and stakeholders. This is because clients rely on investigators to act fairly and honestly when carrying out their process. Building a better reputation and getting better reviews can lead to repeat business and more significant opportunities.

Lastly, an ethical investigator can also avoid facing legal or ethical consequences for their actions. Since their work often involves gathering information that could harm someone or infringe on their rights, an investigator who is guided by ethical principles can avoid facing lawsuits or disciplinary actions.

Technical expertise

Most investigations involve digital evidence that requires technical knowledge to access and decipher. Without technical expertise, an investigator may overlook or mishandle digital evidence, which can negatively impact the success of an investigation.

 For example, an investigator may need to analyse the metadata of a digital file to determine its authenticity or to identify its source. This task requires an understanding of how metadata works and how to access it. An investigator may also need to recover deleted files or access encrypted data, which can only be done with specialised software and techniques.

 Technical expertise is crucial when investigating crimes related to cybersecurity and online activities, such as hacking or online fraud. In these cases, an investigator must have knowledge of computer networks, programming languages and internet protocols to understand how the crime was committed and identify the perpetrator.

Interviewing skills

Interviewing is another example of one of the most important investigative skills to have, as it can help them gather essential information from witnesses and suspects that can ultimately resolve cases. Whether an investigator is trying to uncover the truth behind a crime, gain insight into a suspect’s motivations or obtain details about a witness’s account of events, excellent interviewing skills are essential for an effective investigation.

Good interviewing requires more than simply asking questions; it requires the ability to build rapport with interviewees and to elicit information from them in a non-threatening manner. By establishing a friendly and comfortable atmosphere, an investigator is more likely to gain the trust and cooperation of the person being interviewed. Moreover, maintaining appropriate body language is another vital aspect of successful interviewing.

By gathering accurate and detailed information, an investigator can better understand the circumstances surrounding a case and make informed decisions about how to proceed. They will be able to figure out who is the victim and understand what took place which will result in a better report and better-targeted disciplinary action.

Please note

Investigative skills come with experience and education. The more an investigator focuses on improving, the better their skills will be. Investigative skills highlight how good an investigator is. A workplace investigator must be able to identify potential biases or conflicts of interest that may affect the outcome of the investigation. They must also be able to handle sensitive and confidential information with utmost care, ensuring that the privacy of all parties involved is respected.

At Polonious our job is to assist investigators in achieving a better and well-organised process. We provide them with a space they can store sensitive information that only relevant parties can access. Investigators have the ability to see all their data wherever and whenever they want, knowing that it is securely stored. Request a demo if you want to see how we can help you conduct a more effective investigation.