Background Investigations: See The Forest And The Trees

Updated: Jun 12

Can't see the forest for the trees is an idiom that means that one can be concerned with specifics or details and the bigger picture is missed. But why is it important for a private investigator to see both the trees and the forest? I'll answer that in this brief post.

What is a Background Investigation?

Essentially, a background investigation, commonly referred to as a background check, is just what it says it is — a careful review of ones background to establish facts as to the truthfulness of statements and information presented as accurate information about a person, capabilities, experience, and trust worthiness.

A background investigation can vary in depth and breadth depending upon several factors such as the reason for the investigation, the footprint the person has in life and how the fact finding will ultimately aid in making important decisions on the subject of interest.

What About Background Checks?

Background "checks" is the same thing as a background investigation, but we prefer to stay far from using "check" as that usually indicates that some basic information is plugged into a computer and whatever it spits out is the result of that check. Where as an investigation probes deep into matters and connects the dots so that a more complete picture (the forest) can be seen.

The Details Are The Trees

Often a background investigation elicits a lot of details (again, the trees). The devil is in the details which is why a quality background investigation can cost more than a mere background check. But those details are for more important to the entire big picture (seeing the forest) than one might think.

Take for example a background questionnaire. It may ask what counties a person has resided. This is so that the background checker can plug the persons name into a database and see if there are any civil or criminal matters in one of those counties. However, it is far more important to be detailed in this matter and first pull an address history and compare the answers on the questionnaire. Anything missing? If so, you clearly have a red flag. This further clarifies the difference in a "check" with verses an investigation.

Private investigators are in the business of looking at details. That is why you hire us. We are generally adept at uncovering obscured information and otherwise hidden facets to facts as they are initially presented.

What About The Forest?