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Prescreening priorities.


AS THE MANAGER RESPONSIBLE for your company's contract security services, you should recognize the many liability problems that could arise. Each client company should take advantage of its right to look beyond the written proposal presented by a contract security company. By investigating the security company, the client can determine the company's ability to provide proposed services.

The first rule of thumb to consider when hiring a contract security company is the pay rate. A security officer generally earns approximately 62 percent to 65 percent of the base billing rate per hour. For example, if your contract security company charges $8.00 per hour, the security officer assigned to that position will generally be hired at 62 percent of that figure, or $4.96 per hour.

Individuals paid at this wage should be screened thoroughly to prevent potential accidents or problems resulting from careless hiring and training procedures.

Every security company should screen, test, and train its applicants. The screening process is one of the most important aspects of any hiring program. Unfortunately, due to the large turnover rate in most security companies, thorough screening practices are often cast aside in favor of attracting a greater number of candidates.

Applicants should be asked to sign a release giving the company the authority to verify the information on the application. The following information should be checked:


Each applicant should be a US citizen or documented alien.

Telephone number

Each applicant should have a working telephone number. Verifying the given telephone number prevents confusion should the applicant need to be contacted at home.

Driver's license

Each applicant should have a valid driver's license. Although only a small portion of a security force may drive company vehicles, an applicant's driver's license history can sometimes reveal if he or she is a responsible person.

For example, if the applicant has a number of driving while intoxicated offenses or has a record of leaving the scene of an accident or driving with a suspended license, he or she probably will not be a stable employee and should not be considered for a security officer position.

Credit history

Each applicant's credit history should be analyzed. A credit history will reveal if the applicant has lived in the area for some time. If the applicant says he or she has lived in the area for a number of years, yet has no credit history, the person may be operating under a fictitious name and address. This would certainly prevent the applicant from being hired for a security job. While every applicant cannot be expected to have a commendable credit history, the applicant should not have large debts nor be involved in law suits concerning poor credit performance.

Criminal convictions

Each applicant should be checked for having criminal convictions. In Texas, the State Licensing Board allows companies to hire an applicant and send his or her application to the state for approval as a registered security officer. This approval may take as long as four to six weeks and can reveal a history of criminal activity in other states involved in the National Crime Information Center process.

Since four to six weeks is quite a long time, a separate investigation of local court records can show if the applicant has any criminal convictions. However, if the applicant is not from the immediate area, such an investigation is not worth the trouble.

Employment history

Each applicant should provide a complete employment history. While they are helpful, employment histories can also be misleading and should be used in decision making with other preemployment information gathered. Sometimes previous employers will relay little or no information over the telephone or provide minimal information after receiving written authorization from the applicant.

Many reasons may be behind this reluctance to provide details. The previous employer could be upset that the employee left, the parties could have been involved in a dispute or disagreement, or the previous employer may not care whether the applicant gets another job. As a result, previous employment references are probably the least reliable indicators of job performance.

If the applicant has worked for another contract security company, a client where the applicant previously worked can be a good reference. The previous client may give a better evaluation of the individual's job performance.

Personal transportation

Each applicant should have adequate means of transportation. If an individual does not have a car, he or she has no way to get to a job assignment other than by public transportation. Hiring a person who must depend on buses or mass transit will limit the facilities to which he or she can be assigned.

Once these preliminary screening steps have been taken, applicants should be required to pass a psychological profile test. The psychological profile test is designed to determine the applicant's ability to handle the problems and situations he or she will be subjected to as a security officer. Companies may want to consider creating their own profile test, using the best characteristics of the top 10 percent of their employees to develop a test to help them find personnel with similar characteristics.

Once the applicant has passed the psychological profile, he or she should participate in an in-depth interview during which the responsibilities of the job are explained. Such points as pay, duties involved, and hours should be discussed at this time.

During the interview, job assignments should also be explained. If a contract security company places an ad in the newspaper under the general heading "security help wanted," the contractor will receive applicants with a wide range of experiences.

For example, an applicant whose experience has been in night clubs, bingo parlors, or industrial plants might not be the best officer to put in an office lobby or a bank. Specific job requirements and responsibilities must be taken into consideration when hiring.

The next step in the prescreening process is a drug screen and physical examination--important components due to the increases in workers' compensation claims and related accidents. This step alone may reduce the pool of eligible applicants itself. During a recent recruiting program at my company, for example, the recruiting officer reported that nine of 48 applicants got up and left when told they would have to pass a drug screen and physical to be hired.

Unfortunately, the majority of applicants who do not pass the drug screens or refuse to take one go on to find employment with other security firms that do not have such requirements.

The last step for prospective employees in the screening process is the in-house training phase, which teaches the applicant the basics of how to be a security officer. This one-week training program can be used as a final screening tool.

The applicants should be expected to arrive at the training session promptly. Tardiness at any time during the training program should result in termination. If a trainee is unable to go through one week of paid training, then he or she is not reliable enough to work in a security job, where attendance is important.

The applicant should be evaluated as to how he or she responds to certain situations. This training helps determine what types of jobs the individual could be placed in to benefit both client and applicant. At the end of the training, the applicant should fill out a series of evaluation reports that reiterate what he or she learned and how the curriculum could be improved.

Most clients probably assume that such measures have been taken for their contract personnel. Unfortunately, such procedures are often the exception, not the rule.

A client should investigate each contract security company and examine its prescreening and training procedures. Such actions reduce turnover and improve the relationship between the contract company and the client, making it well worth the extra expense. By slowly adding good personnel through new screening and testing methods, your security force may not be the largest, but it can be the best.

Peary Perry is president of Trinity Security Corporation in Houston, TX. He is a member of ASIS.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Preemployment Screening; what to consider when hiring a contract security company
Author:Perry, Peary
Publication:Security Management
Date:Sep 1, 1990
Previous Article:Screening for the top.
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