Ministry of the
Solicitor General

PSIS - Private Investigator Test Preparation Checklist

Private Security and Investigative Services

Basic Testing

Private Investigator Test Preparation Checklist

Preparatory Checklist

This checklist outlines some of the key subject areas covered in the basic training program for private investigators. Be familiar with these areas as they may be covered in the mandatory test.

You may wish to check off each of these identified subject areas after you review them.

Resource / Asset Protection

Private investigators must conduct surveillance of a person and their behavior; monitoring activities, identifying subjects and their activities. It is important to draw on knowledge of industry-specific equipment, company-specific policies and protocols and knowledge of Federal/Provincial legislation.

Conducting remote surveillance of premises

Conducting in-person surveillance of premises

Detaining suspect without physical contact

Dealing With Other Personnel in the Company

Private investigations will be required to assist in investigating in-company infractions. Knowledge of Federal/Provincial legislation, research and interviewing techniques, are involved when making sound and defensible decisions supported by facts and research.

Assisting in investigation of in-company infractions


Private investigators regularly complete objective, standardized written reports. Knowledge of basic report writing protocols and the legal implications of reports (e.g. for auditing or evidence purposes) is involved.

Documenting events and incidents

Preparing and maintaining routine administrative records

Editing surveillance video

Collect, Verify & Communicate Information

Private investigators often encounter many different situations on a regular basis. They need to have knowledge of company specific proprietary sources of information, interviewing and research techniques, and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). The ability to verify subject information, write reports, communicate with and obtain information from sources and advise on constitutional rights is an asset.

Obtaining and determining type of assignment

Verifying subject information

Collecting an informal statement from source

Collecting a formal statement

Investigative Inquiries

Private investigators should recognize the difference between relevant/irrelevant facts and details when performing investigative duties. Knowledge of public/proprietary sources of information and relevant legislation (e.g. PIPEDA) is essential. The main duties involve conducting skip traces: the ability to locate the assignment information in a database, verify the accuracy of client information, and summarize the findings.

Conducting background check/asset searches

Conducting skip traces (locate person/asset)


Familiarity with the technical aspects of gathering the necessary materials to conduct surveillance, conducting research on the assignment, clients’ requirements, site preparation, carefully documenting surveillance procedures, and camouflage principles all in accordance with various legislative parameters is important.

Conducting technical surveillance

Conducting in-person surveillance

Preparing for undercover surveillance

Conducting undercover surveillance

Civil Process

Private investigators should be acquainted with the proper handling of legal documents, including understanding their contents, copying and delivering them to the designated individuals, signing affidavits, and filing such affidavits at a court office.

Executing civil process

Completing civil process

Court Appearance

Private investigators are required to know how to prepare and deliver court testimony. This includes providing case-related evidence and documents in court, acting as a witness and providing answers to court questions about the case, the documentation and the evidence.

Preparing and delivering court testimony

Mock Multiple Choice Questions

  1. When conducting an investigation, which statement regarding identifying oneself as a private investigator is correct?
  1. A private investigator may impersonate a real person known by the subject to get the required information.
  2. A private investigator should identify himself/herself by not using his/her true name.
  3. A private investigator may identify himself/herself by presenting his/her valid private investigator licence.
  4. A private investigator should identify himself/herself when he/she is involved in an undercover operation.
  1. According to Section 70(2) of the Employment Standards Act, 2000, what statement regarding a lie detector test is correct?
  1. A police officer can disclose to an employer whether an employee has taken a lie detector test or the results of the lie detector test.
  2. A private investigator can disclose to an employer whether an employee has taken a lie detector test or the results of the lie detector test.
  3. No one can disclose to an employer whether an employee has taken a lie detector test or the results of the lie detector test.
  4. An employer can demand the results of a lie detector test taken by an employee.
  1. Which of the following is a principle of accurate note taking for a private investigator?
  1. A chronological entry in his/her notebook of all daily activities as soon as they occur.
  2. Blank lines between entries in his/her notebook to record additional information he/she may remember later.
  3. Use more than one notebook at a time to record details.
  4. Make some illegible entries in the notebook so that only he/she can understand what is written down.
  1. What resource is the most practical and cost-effective to use to locate public information on an individual?
  1. On-line residential databases and general search engines.
  2. International people-finder pay sites.
  3. Public searches at the local library.
  4. Local newspaper searches of archived items with minimal fees
  1. Why is it important for a private investigator to have a working knowledge of the rules of evidence as it may pertain to his/her work?
  1. To know how to obtain, handle, store and maintain evidence in order to preserve its integrity and admissibility in court.
  2. To recognize the similarities between direct and circumstantial evidence.
  3. To learn how to conceal evidence during a trial.
  4. To only understand the basic principles of evidence.
  1. When is the installation of monitoring devices on a subject's home computer by a private investigator legal?
  1. If given lawful access to the home by a third party and the investigator can covertly install the device.
  2. If the owner of the computer voluntarily consents to the installation of the device.
  3. If the owner of the computer consents because he/she has been told that he/she has no right to refuse.
  4. A private investigator can never legally install a device to monitor a person's home computer activity.
  1. Amongst the following, who is NOT considered a Commissioner for the purpose of swearing affidavits?
  1. A licensed barrister and solicitor.
  2. A member of the clergy.
  3. A provincial court judge.
  4. A justice of the peace
  1. When appearing as a witness, what action should a private investigator take before he/she makes a court appearance?
  1. Review original notes and files.
  2. Review the final report only.
  3. Send copies of the final report to the lawyers and judge in the case.
  4. Review and modify the final report.

Answers to Mock Multiple Choice Questions

  1. C
  2. C
  3. A
  4. A
  5. A
  6. B
  7. B
  8. A