There are two sides to an interview when seeking employment with an investigation company. The interviewer asks the questions. You of course want to make a good impression and answer all the interviewer’s questions to the best of your ability. This is of course an important part of the interview. The second part of the interview should be you asking the interviewer questions and in this article I have provided specific questions to ask during an interview with an investigation company.
It is very important for you to become the interviewer to make sure the company is a good fit for you. You have to make sure that you know what kind of company they are and the type of people you will be working for. I can’t stress this enough. You want to ask questions so you can avoid working for a company that doesn’t pay you properly or has a management style that clashes with your style. You don’t want to be stuck in a bad situation with a company if you don’t have to be.
If you have been around the investigative industry for awhile you might have different questions than someone just getting into the industry. But many of the questions should be similar.
Here are some questions I have always asked when interviewing with an investigative company and the reasons behind the questions. If you have questions you believe are important let me know in the comments and I will consider adding them to this article.
Questions to Ask During an Interview of the Interviewer
Question: Am I replacing an investigator? If so, why did the previous investigator leave the company?
Reason: You want to know if the previous investigator left on good terms or whether there was some other reason the investigator left the company. Are they hiring because the business is growing?
Question: What is your investigator turn over rate? How long do they stay with the company?
Reason: If investigators don’t stay with the company very long there might be a good reason for that. Maybe it is bad managers running the company. Maybe the compensation is unfair. There is a reason investigators don’t stay long with a company.
Question: Are there opportunities for advancement in your company?
Reason: This is something you might be interested in when working for an investigation company. If there is no room for advancement then it is better to know where you stand well before you sign on with the company. If there is no advancement then you will be likely stuck wage you were brought in at.
Reason: If you are new to the investigative industry you may want a supportive manager who teaches you as well as manages you. If you have been in the industry for awhile you may want a manager that leave you alone and lets you do your job; a manager that only bothers you when you do something wrong. Managers that haven’t worked in the field don’t know what investigators go through and therefore can’t empathize with issues that take place.
Question: Can I talk to any private investigators in my area to ask them questions about the company?
Reason: Many times you can get a little more insight as to how a company works when you speak to an actual employee. I can’t tell you how many times a future employee or new employee would reach out to me and not completely understand what was required of them in the position or the recruiter didn’t explain to them what a typical day with the company would be like. And after talking to me they either decide that this occupation is not a good fit for them or maybe even the company expectation are not a good fit for them.
Question: Do you allow ride alongs with investigators?
Reason: If they allow it before you are offered a position I would take the opportunity. You would get a chance to meet a potential coworker and pick their brain for 8 hours (hopefully). During that time you can learn a lot about an organization.
Question: What do other investigators struggle with the most at this company?
Reason: This is an open ended question that might provide an unexpected answer.
Question: How much work could I expect in my area? How many hours per week?
Reason: It is important to know how many potential hours you might be working whether it be not enough or more then you can potentially handle.
Question: What type of work would be assigned to me?
Reason: Every investigation company is different. In the insurance investigation industry there is surveillance and SIU assignments (interviews, photos, record pulls, measurements). Some investigators only work surveillance, while others only work SIU assignments. Some investigators work both types of files and that can be tricky.
Question: Will travel be required? How much travel? How is the hotel paid for? How much per diem is paid each day I would be out of town?
Reason: Each one of these questions are important if you are to be away from your family. It is important to know what is paid for on those trips away from home.
Question: What would my hourly rate be?
Reason: They might not answer this question in the interview but typically companies have an idea as to what rate they bring in new investigators. This might provide some insight for you to figure out if they are going to pay you enough.
Question: Would I be paid mileage? At what rate?
Reason: If a company pays mileage for travel you need to know what that rate is going to be. If you are not paid for your mileage you might be given a gas card or paid a per diem for your vehicle usage.
Question: How is the travel time paid? What am I not paid for?
Reason: Are you paid via mileage rate or hourly rate. If you are paid at an hour rate what is that rate? Is there is certain amount of time that isn’t paid for travel?
Question: Am I paid for report time? At what rate am I paid for report time? Does processing video count as report time? If it is paid, what is the typical amount of time that is billed by investigators for report time?
Reason: I have worked for a company that do not pay for report time. They expected all report writing to be done in the vehicle. Of course I had to finish my reports at home on many occasions but I wasn’t paid for that time. And that was irritating for me and I am sure you will find that irritating as well.
Some companies will only pay 1 hour for reporting writing time. Some companies will only pay surveillance reporting writing at a minimum wage. It is important to know what you will paid for when creating the final product for a client.
Question: How long have you worked for the company? What do you like about this company?
Reason: Knowing how long you interviewer has worked for the company many provide some small insight about the company especially in relation to what they like about the company.
Question: What is the best thing about this company? What is worst thing?
Reason: You might not be as concerned about the best thing but more interested in the worst thing. What kind of answer do they provide? Is it a generic answer?
Question: Do I receive vacation time? If I do, are there restrictions when I can take it?
Reasons: Some companies restriction vacation to certain times in the year or when they are slow on work. This might be important to you.
I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to find out about the company as much as they want to find out about you. You have to make sure the company is a good fit for you just as much as they want to make sure you are a good fit for them.
I know if you are new to the industry it might change your perspective and you might be willing to put up with anything to be hired with a company. I get that feeling. But even if you are willing to put up with working for a company that might not be the right fit, you need to know as much about the company as you can before committing to the company.
Make sure you research the company you are interviewing with and add to the questions I think will be important for you to ask.
An interview is not a one sided experience. You get to ask questions too. And I hope you do.
There are many sites on the internet to prepare you for interviews. Monster.com had a good article on this topic that I believe you will find useful.