Qualities of a Good Field Investigator
Field Investigator is a professional who carry out investigations or research works for his employer to gather information and collect data from the concerned respondents (people interviewed by him). He is an individual who is also called an Interviewer. It is so, since, he asks questions and record their respective answers immediately.
In order to become a good field investigator, he must possess essential qualities of head and heart. He must have a good academic background, better command of communication skills, decent personality that is pleasing to others. He must also have a genuine interest in doing his work, maturity in his thoughts, actions and behaviors, and enough determination, integrity and patience to accomplish tasks assigned to him.
There is nothing like a rigid or hard and fast rule about some fixed qualities an investigator must have. However, in order to become proficient and succeed professionally following attributes are essential for him.
Image credits © Gaurav Akrani.
The twelve essential qualities of a good field investigator:
- Good academic background,
- Decent pleasing personality,
- Sociable person,
- Healthy and energetic,
- Good retentive memory,
- Technical knowledge,
- Communication skills,
- Job Integrity,
- Observational skills,
- Unbiased accurate recording,
- Awareness of the business world, and
- Curious mind to inquire.
Now let's discuss above good field investigator's qualities.
- Good academic background: A person interested to become a field investigator must have completed his basic college education. In the context of marketing research, it is better if he is a graduate either in commerce or economics. He must also have a good command of regional languages and sound general knowledge of the areas he is expected to work.
- Decent pleasing personality: Personality plays a role in the success of a field investigator. He is supposed to have an honest, pleasant and impressive charisma. He must not have an indecent, dull and unattractive character. He must be well-groomed; that is, nicely dressed, smell good and look tidy (neat and clean). Along with this, he must be well skilled to exercise his etiquette like showing good manners, maintaining calm and polite behavior, respecting others, etc. He must also carry a genuine bliss on his face and wear a sincere smile while interacting with people. Often respondents do cooperate if they are dealing with a pleasing person.
- Sociable person: A field investigator has to deal regularly with lots of people having different personalities, attitudes and outlooks towards life. He is expected to be a sociable or friendly person. He must be an extrovert and know how to initiate a good conversation, maintain interest, win the confidence and easily mingle with people. He must also know, how to deal correctly with a particular age group or gender. He must not be shy to talk with people. He should show genuine interest in solving problems of his respondents. He must also welcome their opinions and ideas. He must be a polite and not a hot-tempered person.
- Healthy and energetic: The job of a field investigator demands good health, lot of energy and hard work. In order to execute and accomplish assigned investigative tasks, here, one has to travel from one place to another, talk with lots of people, sometimes even work for many hours at a stretch. It is a job that needs a good amount of both mental and physical stamina. It is not for those who can't handle the stress of traveling to different places, meeting and talking with numerous people and working for longer duration. Hence, one must be in the pink of health to become a field investigator.
- Good retentive memory: Memory is crucial if one has to remember lots of information regarding; What to do? How to do it? Whom to contact? What to ask? What to avoid? What to record? What not to miss? A weak memory results in reduced retention ability, and this can overall effect once performance and efficiency at work. In order to avoid this, a good memory seems essential for a work's success. In the case of a field investigator, he is bombarded with information, others' opinions, questions, etc., which he has to handle very skillfully. He must record and organize required data, also not miss any crucial details and quickly give correct answers to all raised doubts by respondents. It is only possible if he has a retentive memory. A good memory boosts his speed, accuracy, efficiency and self-confidence.
- Technical knowledge: A field investigator must have excellent technical knowledge too regarding how to conduct a survey. He is expected to have an understanding of various techniques of investigation, methods used for doing research, statistics, etc. Once the information gets collected, he must know how to organize it well so that it can be further processed with ease and without any difficulties. For doing this efficiently, he must also know which tools to prefer and use for the right purpose.
- Communication skills: An investigator's primary task is to collect information from people. To do this, it is crucial he communicates correctly, freely and frankly with them. He must not only be able to share and collect data from them, but also manage to remove their doubts. He must be able to make them feel comfortable so that they can open up, to share more useful information with him. Hence, good communication skills are essential for the success of a field investigator.
- Job Integrity: Integrity means not to compromise nor cheat with moral principles and strictly remain honest and sincerely dedicated to accomplishing one's mission under any circumstances. A field investigator must possess such an integrity. He must be very honest, sincere, dedicated and trustworthy to investigate the matter assigned to him by his employer. He must take a keen interest and enjoy doing his work with optimum perfection. He must contact and interview all concerned respondents. He must ask all questions from the questionnaire and record their respective answers immediately. He must complete his work on time. He must not delay his work-related activities, nor avoid asking some questions. In short, he must not cheat his research work. If he cheats, then the quality of his investigation will become worse, and this will be a distrust and a loss to his employer. Hence, integrity is a prime quality of an honest and good field investigator.
- Observational skills: A person's observation plays a vital role to understand the world around him. Minute details are easy to identify and not missed if one's view is focused and profound. A field investigator with good observational skills can make a great justice to his job. He can observe the facial expressions, body language and non-verbal responses of the respondents. With experience, he can quickly sense whether the information being told is a truth or fabricated lie.
- Unbiased accurate recording: As a part of his job, a field investigator must immediately record the information received from respondents with optimum accuracy and completeness. He has to take good care to see that no time gets wasted while recording, silly errors avoided, and integrity of the information preserved. In addition, he also has to maintain an unbiased attitude while recording information. He must not add his words, ideas or opinions. He must record the information the way received and only in its original unadulterated form.
- Awareness of the business world: The world of business is dynamic in nature. It adapts to ongoing changes by gradually discarding older methods or traditional approaches. A field investigator must be aware of these ongoing transformations. He must acquaint himself with the necessary knowledge and various aspects of the business world. He must also be familiar with various problems associated with companies, competitions in the market, issues related to sales and advertising, etc. With this overall understanding, he can quickly know the purpose of his survey, investigation or research work.
- Curious mind to inquire: A curious mind is naturally inclined towards and eager to find out more about something. It always inquires and is not satisfied with the available information at hand. It often tries to dig deeper so as to know a little extra. A good field investigator must have such a mind. He must not get easily satisfied only with facts else find out what more lies behind. In other words, he must try his level best to extract maximum information from respondents to enhance the quality of his research work.