Rigorous hiring and screening programs consisting of background, criminal record, and fingerprint checks are becoming the norm in the occupation. Applicants are expected to have good character references, no serious police record, and good health. They should be mentally alert, emotionally stable, and physically fit in order to cope with emergencies. Guards who have frequent contact with the public should communicate well.
Business owners, facilities managers and others with responsibility for maintaining security are faced with the task of interviewing and hiring security guards who may be responsible for the lives of many people or property worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The security industry has traditionally been low-paying, monotonous, and without high educational standards. The influx of untrained people into this industry has created the problem of finding the right person for the job. Criminal, credit, professional, scholastic, and employment checks have become a vital tool for determining the qualifications and honesty of the applicant.
An exhaustive background check is probably not necessary if you are hiring a guard only for crowd control or other positions of limited responsibility. However, for all other personnel, complete background checks are a crucial part of the interview process. Any person who is employed for the purpose of security, regardless of how limited, MUST be checked for at least a prior criminal record.
Checking a candidates background will help verify what they wrote on their resume and what they have told you about themselves. If the resume or the oral interview contains any falsehoods, the applicant should be automatically rejected. In many cases the employer is held responsible for the illegal actions of his guard if that person has a criminal record and the employer failed to check his or her background. In other cases, if the applicant is having major financial difficulties, domestic problems, or legal problems , they may pose a risk due to the instability in their personal lives.
A certain amount of common sense is also needed when evaluating a background report. If someone is having financial problems, it does not mean they will be a bad employee. Security guards are generally paid less than the average worker and therefore are more likely to struggle when paying the bills. If the only negative report is of a few missed payments, then other factors should be used for evaluation. If on the other hand someone has a long record of financial troubles and a history including bankruptcy, or a (misdemeanor) criminal record involving moral turpitude such as shoplifting or receiving stolen property, they should be bypassed. Felons should never be hired as security guards. They may have cleaned up their act and gone straight, but you cannot take a chance when the property and lives of you, your employees, and your customers are at stake.
The internet has a lot of companies which will do a variety of checks for a modest fee. At a minimum they should be able to check:
Social Security Records
State and Local Criminal Background
Worker's compensation check
Verify previous employment
Reports from the Dept. of Motor Vehicle
Verify State Licenses
Free background checks are also possible and may be sufficient for guards in less sensitive positions.