It is not difficult to get a job of a security officer, unless you apply for a civil service job. In any other case, you will compete only with a few other applicants, and you unless you fail to make a good impression on the interviewers–in terms of your attitude to work, responsibility, and motivation to do the job–they will hire you.
Below you will find some questions you can expect to hear in your interview, and a brief suggestion on how to answer each question. I will briefly touch the specifications of Safety and Security Officer Trainee hiring process below the questions.
Q 1: Why do you want to work as a security officer?
There isn’t anything special about this job, which makes the question more difficult. Nevertheless, you can tell them that you feel like the right candidate for the position. Say them that you enjoy working in the night, or that you have had the same job before, and felt good doing it, on a day to day basis. You liked your routine of a security guard, whatever it entailed.
Alternatively you can bet on honesty. Say them that in the current stage of your professional career (still studying, nearing retirement, going through a difficult period, looking for a quick buck and easy job), or in your present living conditions and financial situation, you basically need any job. Security officer happens to sound like a good choice, and you decided to give it a try. After all, what can you lose? When things get better again, you may look for something else–even within their company, if you do not find this role motivating enough.
Q 2: How would you characterize the main responsibility of a security guard?
You can either list the duties from the job description, such as patrolling property, monitoring surveillance equipment, permitting entry to the building, etc, or you can summarize the job in one sentence.
In the second case, you can say that the main responsibility of the security guard is to keep the workers (customers) and the property safe from criminal activity, and from any other disaster. Show the interviewers that you understand your job, and look at it responsibly. You do not expect to blindly patrol around the building. You know your goals, things and people you should protect, and are ready to do so.
Q 3: Do you have any experience working as a security officer?
This becomes an easy question if you have experience. In such a case, tell them that you enjoyed the work, and would like to have the same position again. You can even narrate a difficult situation you had to handle in your past occupation of a security guard–facing a burglar, helping to extinguish a fire, anything. And if nothing serious happened, it indicates that you did your job really well.
If you do not have any experience, however, try to emphasize that you know what is expected from a good security guard, and are not afraid of the dangers the job presents. Tell them that you are eager to learn, and believe to handle your duties well from the get-go. Show confidence in your skills. Show motivation. Everyone has to start their career in a any field someday, and there is no reason why they’d screen you out, just because you have no experience with security work.
Special Tip: Download the list of 10 questions for security officer job applicants in a simple, one page long PDF, print it, and practice your interview answers anytime later, even when offline:
Q 4: Can you imagine working sixteen hours in a single day?
12, 16, or even 24 and 48 hours long shifts are nothing unusual in various types of security officer jobs. This varies from one country to another (or even from one city to another), and the length of the shift depends on the nature of the job, legislation in a given country, and location of a property. Properties in distant or hard to reach locations are places where security guards typically do long shifts.
Anyway, when they ask you about long shifts, the chances are high that such shifts belongs to the job. Say that you are ready for staying long in work, that you can maintain high level of concentration and awareness for a long time, that you won’t fall asleep in work :).
Do not forget to read also: 15 most common interview questions and answers – you can definitely get some of them in your security guard interview.
Q 5: How do you feel about carrying a gun, or shooting?
Employers do not want you to use a gun, unless it was absolutely necessary to shoot. You should not present yourself as someone who likes to shoot, or chase someone, or a person who likes guns in general–it’s just not the right impression to make in an interview.
Nevertheless, you should say that you feel okay about carrying a pistol, but would never use it unless someone threatened to shoot you, or shot on you. Show the right attitude and improve your chances of getting the job. Needless to say, if you have a permit to carry a gun you should say so.
If you do not have a permit, your new employer will typically arrange the training, background check, and everything else required by local authorities to obtain a permit. Or you will work in one of those places where security guards do not carry guns, which is, in my opinion, a better option.
Q 6: Are you in a good shape?
You would hardly catch a burglar on his way out of the shop, if you were in a bad shape physically. Though we see many obese security guards in the retail stores around the US, the hiring managers still prefer to hire people who are in a good shape, people who care about their health and physical condition.
Not only that these people are better guards, they also won’t miss many shifts because of being sick. Obesity goes hand in hand with other health issues. Therefore you should tell the interviewers that you are in a good shape (or try to get to shape soon), and elaborate on your answer, describing how you try to keep yourself in an excellent physical condition. Perhaps you visit the gym, go for a run in the morning, or play football with friends two times a week… Any physical activity is better than no activity at all.
Safety and Security Officer Trainee hiring process
If you apply for a civil service position, you will have to pass a test, commonly known as “Civil service Safety and Security Officer Trainee exam“. The test has several sections, such as verbal reasoning, understanding of written text, preparing written materials, etc.
Many candidates fail in the interviews because they fail to pass the tests. But once you practice before your interview, with five applying written information tests, thirteen understanding and interpreting graphs, charts, tables, diagrams, and following written instructions tests, and more than 30 other tests with this great interview preparation package, you do not have to be afraid about this part of the hiring process anymore. I highly recommend you to check the tests out, if you apply for a civil service job.
Clothes you should wear to your security officer interview
This is no white collar or corporate job. It would make no sense to wear a shirt and tie. Just put on anything that is clean and well ironed, and you feel comfortable in it. You can also visit the place in advance and check what their security guards are wearing in the job. Understanding the dress code can help you understand what they expect. Personally I experienced guards wearing anything from shorts and shirt in some grocery stores through jeans in corporations, to tuxedo in a luxury jewellery store…
If possible, visit the place in advance, have a look at the clothes they wear and put on something similar. If not possible, just wear something you feel comfortable in, and avoid shorts and shirts with short sleeves.
Conclusion and next steps
Interview for a security officer position does not belong to difficult job interviews. You will compete with only a few other people for the job, and you won’t face many difficult questions. The only difficult part is the exam you may face while applying for a civil service position.
Nevertheless, you still have to show the hiring managers the right attitude to work, and the right personality for this job. Follow our suggestions, make a good impression on them, practice for the tests, and continue your preparation with InterviewPenguin.com – Your Best Job Interview Coach since 2011:
- Salary negotiation tips – Learn how to get as much as you deserve in the interview.
- How to deal with interview nerves – It is crucial to get rid of stress, and to look confident in your security officer interview. We will show you how to do that.
- How to dress for an interview – Four rules to consider when choosing clothes to wear. A simple guide that will help you with your choice of clothes for this interview.