Whether you are growing your security firm or replacing previous guards, interviewing and hiring new guards is a common step. It’s also important: Many of the liability issues we discuss in our blog for security firms (or seen in the news) can be avoided with a rigorous hiring process for new guards.

Fortunately, more effective hiring tools and best practices are available to firms than ever before. Look’s look at several of the most important steps to ensure you’re finding high-quality guards that will be assets to your company.

State the Basic Requirements Clearly

Get all the basics out of the way to quickly root out undesirable applicants and save yourself some time. That includes mandatory requirements like being over 21, being a U.S. citizen, having a high-school diploma or GED, passing a background check with no criminal history, and so on. Some requirements can be adjusted based on the guard position you’re looking to fill. You may want to add things like a valid driver’s license or a gun license valid in your state.

If your guards use technology frequently on the job – like communication apps, GPS tracking, security cam apps, online timesheets, etc. – then you may want to add technological experience to your must-haves, too. Some security firms even ask guards to use common security software during the interview process.

State these requirements upfront and clearly, and they’ll act as a useful filter for your applications.

Include Some Open-Ended Questions

Whether in your application forms or your interview process, it’s a very good idea to include a few open-ended questions. These are vital for judging how a guard sees their community, their potential reaction to events, their emotional intelligence, and so on. Think about questions such as:

  • What does your community mean to you?
  • What would you do if one customer threatened another in front of you?
  • If you were on duty and someone ran up to you sobbing, what would your reaction be?
  • What would your response be if you saw another guard steal on the job?
  • What would you do if you were trying to protect someone and they began lashing out at you?

Asking these questions face-to-face in an interview has its uses, as it’s easier to get an honest reaction. However, asking some as written questions to be filled in on an application is useful too: This is a great way to get an idea of how well an applicant writes, their grammar, and how they express themselves.

Do a Social Media Search

This popular interview step is even more important when hiring for a security guard position, where responsibility and a clean record are vital. Many people can give an outstanding interview even if that’s not what their day-to-day behavior is like. A quick search on popular social media can often reveal a lot more about applicants. Social media is rarely curated the same way a first impression meeting is, and applicants may not be aware just how much it can say about them, especially if you can access past posts or see what they are reposting.

State Training Expectations Early On

It’s common to need guards to have certain kinds of training. Make it clear what sort of training you expect guards for this position to have, or what type of training they will be required to complete once they are hired. That’s particularly necessary if you are looking to fill an armed guard position. This can identify guards with the right training, while discouraging those who don’t want to meet training requirements.

Specific Experience in Certain Venues

Certain guard jobs greatly benefit from experience in that specific area. If you know what sort of jobs you are hiring for, take time to ask questions about it. For example, when hiring for a patrol position, you can ask about patrol routes. When hiring for a customer-facing position in a lobby, ask about guard experience with customer service. When looking for a guard for a bar or nightclub, ask about de-escalation training and directing crowds.

Ask About Second Jobs and Work/Life Balance

This is becoming a more common application question in the security industry. Firms have found that many guards have second jobs and aren’t a great pick for the lengthy patrols or monitoring sessions, even if they want the work.

Offer Career Advancement Opportunities

The best guards are often looking for career advancement opportunities, ways to increase their salaries while getting more experience. Attract them by making it clear in your application process that there will be career advancement options, and what that looks like for your firm.

Final Note

Is your applicant pool for new guards feeling a little low? Are you worried that following these steps won’t give you enough hiring options? It may be time to expand your job advertising into new areas to pick up more applications. Online applications, in particular, are an easy way to reach young professionals that prefer to fill out forms this way, and social media is always an option if you’re trying to attract experienced guards. A little innovation can quickly grow application pools!