Safety risks and hazards are present in each and every company. In a small business environment, it is typically enough to hire a single security guard and install a few CCTV cameras around the property. If they set the system properly, the building and a few employees will be well-protected.
The situation is completely different in big shopping malls, and corporations that run huge production plants and factories. These places sometimes employ dozens of security guards (especially if they have expensive equipment in place, or if theft is common). You, as a Security Manager, will be responsible for recruiting, training, and managing the guards, and also for designing the most effective polices and procedures to maintain the security standards.
Let’ have a look at some questions you may face while interviewing for this interesting job, that pays in average more than $60,000 annually (numbers from US employment market).
Can you please tell us something about your working experience?
You will typically need some experience with security work and management to apply for this job. Because there won’t be any working manual waiting for you on your table in your new office, telling you how you should design the security systems in the company.
Try to tell them a story. It probably starts with your higher education in security management, or at least with a training program in the field. Perhaps you worked as a security officer before, or had under your control security systems in some smaller company. You learned the ins and outs of this work, and experienced your share of tricky situations (fire emergency, theft, etc).
Your story should culminate right now, at this moment. With all you’ve done and been through up to this point, you feel ready to progress to a role of a security manager, and lead and manage a group of security guards. Show confidence in your abilities. Unless you believe that you’ll handle the job, they won’t believe it either…
How will you recruit new security guards? What will be your criteria?
Try to describe the process, step by step. They should get an impression that you know what you are doing. You can start by creating attractive job ads, and advertising on local job boards, plus perhaps on a company website. If you feel innovative, you can even suggest some creative campaign on social media channels run by the company (if they have many followers, it will work).
Then talk about interviews. You should definitely mention background checks, but can talk also about some basic physical tests, and questions you will ask the security guards (see our article about security officer interview for a good list of questions).
Say that you will try to hire trustworthy and reliable people to your team, and will also rely on a quality training and orientation you will provide before they start the job. You will always be honest to the job applicants, explaining everything in detail, including the shift patterns. They should know what to expect, and in this way you’ll minimize the number of people who will quit soon after starting their job as security officers.
What security policies and procedures will you suggest for our company (store, warehouse, factory, etc)?
The right answer depends on your future place of work. Because different procedures make sense in a school, huge retail store, and in a vast factory complex in a remote location.
The rule of the thumb, however, is the following: Better be safe than sorry. Of course each company has a certain budget for security, and managers do not want to spend a fortune on countless CCTV cameras, in places where they are not needed. Therefore I suggest you the following:
Tell them that you cannot really say at the moment. You have to inspect the property, understand what happens in the place during the day and night, what security systems they already have in place, and, of course, what sort of budget you will operate with.
In my opinion, this is the most sensible answer, unless you apply for the job internally, and already know the security procedures in the company. In such a case you can come up with an idea of some system of rules and policies, or at least idea of some improvements.
Imagine that a fire breaks out in the building. What actions will you take as a security manager?
You can start by saying that you want to have a plan ready for each emergency situation. All security guards should know what they should do in a case of a fire–starting with helping employees and visitors (customers) with evacuation, and doing whatever they can to stop the fire from spreading to other parts of the company property.
You, as a security manager, will mostly oversee and coordinate the entire process, especially if people start to panic and do not follow the great evacuation plans that you designed before.
Ensure the interviewers that you will stay calm in a case of a fire, and since you have prepared for the situation upfront, you will simply follow the best course of action to save lives and property.
Imagine that during an occasional inspection, you find one of the security guards sleeping on their chair. What will you do?
You should not fire them outright. At least if that’s the first time they fell asleep in work. It can happen to everyone, especially during the night, and many security guards do 24-hour long shifts. That’s not easy to handle, maybe you have a first hand experience…
I suggest you to say that you will decide according to the past history of the guard in question. If it is someone who’s been working for a long time in the company, and has a great track record, you will just warn them and make a short internal report. Perhaps you will cut their bonuses for a given month.
You are aware that it is not always easy to find a loyal security guard. What’s more, recruiting and training new employees costs money, and you do not want to waste resources of your employer.
If it happens repeatedly, however, or if you find them sleeping somewhere again, after warning them a few nights before, you will have to terminate their contract immediately. Because guards are not paid for sleeping in their work, and you can’t afford working with unreliable people.
Special Tip: You can download the list of all questions in a one page long PDF, in order to practice your interview answers anytime later:
How important is paperwork for you?
Say that it is extremely important. You want to report on each incident, you want to do regular background checks of your staff members, and basically you want to have all procedures and policies clearly defined and recorded somewhere.
This will help you with your decisions, and if you decide to leave the company one day–perhaps when you retire :), it will be much easier for your successor to continue doing the great job you’ve been doing in the company. Because they will just have to look in the papers if something is unclear.
What are your expectations on other managers working in the company?
You should not expect someone else to do the job for you, but you will need a help of your colleagues from management to do your job effectively.
Say that you expect them to share with you their concerns, and to help you understand the daily patterns in different departments (or buildings) of the company. They should also help you identify the most precious assets and areas that should be monitored and guarded extensively.
Basically you can say that you hope for a good cooperation, honest communication and critical feedback from their side. You can add that you try to be friendly to your colleagues, and attentive to their needs. Everything is easier when people cooperate together, and you will try to build a good relationship with your new colleagues.
Other questions you may face in your security manager job interview
- What do you consider your greatest weakness as a security manager?
- Tell us about a time when you showed initiative at work.
- Talk about the most difficult situation you’ve ever experienced working in security.
- What does integrity mean to you?
- If we hire you for this job, what will be the first thing you will do in the office?
- What challenges are you looking for in a position?
- In your opinion, what are the greatest security risks and hazards in our type of business?
- What gets you up in a morning?
- Why did you leave your last job? (Why do you want to leave your present job?)
- After everything that we discussed in this interview, do you have any questions, or do you want to add something?
Conclusion, next steps
Interview for a position of Security Manager belongs to interviews with average difficulty. This is not a fancy job title, and you typically won’t compete with many other people for the job–which makes your situation easier.
On the other hand, you will have to demonstrate strong experience in the field and right attitude to different situations that can happen in your new job, with good answers to the questions of the interviewers.
Do some research about your future place of work, and relevant safety regulations and laws. You should also read the article once again, and try to write down a short answer (or at least a concept for an answer) to each question. If you cannot come up with good answers on your own, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 sample answers to all tricky interview questions (including scenario based questions) will help you ace this interview, and outclass all other job applicants.
Luck favors the prepared mind. This isn’t a superbly difficult interview, and if you spend enough time preparing for it, you should make it. I wish you good luck!
May also help you:
- How to overcome interview nerves – You should not show any nerves in your interview for a security manager job. Learn how to overcome the anxiety.
- Salary negotiation tips – Get as much as you deserve in your interview. Or even more. Learn some simple yet effective salary negotiation techniques.