5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Private Investigator and Polygraph in Knoxville

What comes to mind when you think about a private investigator? If your thoughts turn to trenchcoats, trilby hats, and seedy back offices, then you may have been watching too many old black-and-white detective movies! However, for many people, this on-screen stereotype is the only experience they have of a private detective. That means when the time comes to seek out the services of a private investigator in Knoxville, it can be a daunting prospect. To help put your mind at ease, we have put together a few questions you will want to consider asking when you hire a private investigator in Knoxville.

1 - Do You Have a License?

Not just anyone can set themselves up as a private investigator. Depending on which state you are in, the licensing and training requirements will vary, but here in Tennessee, a private investigator requires a license issued by the Department of Commerce and Insurance. In order to obtain this license, there are a number of requirements that must be met. These will include the following:

  • The applicant must be at least 21 years of age
  • The applicant must be a U.S. citizen or a resident alien
  • Must not have been declared incompetent due to any mental defect or illness
  • Have a licensed Private Investigation company or be affiliated with one
  • The applicant's character must be in good moral standing
  • The applicant must not have a history of drug or alcohol addiction or abuse
  • The applicant must not have criminal charges of deceit, fraud, or misrepresentation on record
  • Applicants will also need to take a 2-hour exam after submitting the application

This license confirms that a private investigator has passed the necessary checks and is qualified to act in this capacity. If you are hiring a private investigator in Knoxville, make sure to ask if they are licensed in the state of Tennessee. If they are not, then this is a red flag, and you should look elsewhere.

2 - What is Your Background?

While a licensed private investigator in Knoxville needs to sit it an exam to obtain their license, Tennessee has no degree requirement. That means there is potential for a licensed investigator only to have the training that was studied to pass the exam! It is a good idea to ask any PI you are considering hiring what background they come from and what kind of training they have. It is quite common for experienced investigators to be former law enforcement. This gives them a good foundation for investigative skills. It is also worth asking if they have any special knowledge or experience. For example, if you are dealing with a financial issue, it is worth choosing a PI with a lot of experience in financial crime.

In contrast, a surveillance specialist is a better fit if you are trying to catch a cheating spouse! At Kendall Investigations, our founder Kendall W Shull is a former FBI Special Agent of over 25 years. He was the Chief of the entire FBI Polygraph program and the only person in the world with a Master of Science in Polygraphy. Several of the investigators associated with the company are also retired FBI agents or former law enforcement.

3 - Who Will Handle My Case?

When you are working with a private investigator in Knoxville, it may be a sensitive situation. You need to know that you will be treated with respect and discretion and feel comfortable with the person you are allowing to access the most private areas of your life. That's why we suggest asking who will be the specific investigator handling your case. At Kendall Investigations, we will usually forward your information to the investigator working on your case so they can contact you directly and discuss your options. This allows direct access to the person responsible for gathering the necessary information. This helps our clients feel more comfortable trusting our investigators' personal information.

4 - How Long Have You Been A PI?

Everyone has to start somewhere, but when you choose someone to investigate important matters impacting your life, you are perfectly justified in wanting someone with experience! Don't be afraid to ask an investigator you may want to hire how long they have been on the job. A reputable PI will be more than happy to give you a brief overview of their experience and qualifications to put your mind at ease. In fact, refusal to do so is a red flag that should have you ending the conversation immediately!

5 - How Much Do Your Services Cost?

As with most services you need daily, you likely have a budget set aside for hiring a private investigator in Knoxville. It's important to ask up front how much services are likely to cost and even how they are calculated. The answer may depend on the specific services you need your PI to perform. For example, process serving may be a flat rate, whereas surveillance might be an hourly fee. You should also ask if you will be expected to cover additional expenses during the investigation. It may not be possible to get an exact figure, but they should be able to give a decent ballpark estimate and tell you if your budget seems feasible.

These are a small selection of questions that help you to determine if you are choosing the right private investigator for your needs. You may have more questions of your own. Do not be afraid to ask!

Uncover the truth!


Ken Shull served as a Special Agent with the FBI for almost 25 years and was head of the FBI Polygraph program until his retirement in 2001. At that time he set up the Kendall Investigations practice as a private investigator in Knoxville, TN offering Polygraph services, private investigations, and security guards. Ken is a member of the American Polygraph Association and The American Association of Police Polygraphists.

The Truth is Still the Truth Even if No One Believes it, A Lie is Still a Lie Even if Everyone Believes it.