A security guard can perform a wide range of tasks in your organisation, from protecting people to protecting premises.
A security guard might be responsible for patrolling premises out of hours, ensuring that doors, windows, and gates are shut and secured. In your organisation, they might be responsible for checking in employees and visitors, or being visible and present amongst a crowd to prevent disorder and theft.
They need to be able to make quick and logical decisions based on established parameters, and deal with fast-changing situations calmly and professionally.
Alongside courage and physical fitness, a successful security guard needs a range of soft skills and abilities that are not easy to quantify through a CV or during an interview. That is where the right pre-employment assessments can make a real difference.
This article will guide you through some of the common tasks a security guard might undertake, what skills and aptitudes a successful security guard can demonstrate, and the best way to test for this as part of the application process.
What should a security guard be able to do?
Security guards work in different ways for different organisations. However, there are some tasks that are undertaken by a security guard no matter what sector they are employed in – and that is the task of protecting what they have been asked to protect.
Alongside this, a security guard might patrol a building, a site, or some other premises. This might happen at night or during the day. The security guard is responsible for ensuring that no unauthorised persons gain access.
This might mean keeping gates and doors locked, or checking off visitors and employees as they enter and leave the premises.
A security guard might have to be active among the public during opening hours, like in a museum or a store, to prevent thefts and watch for suspicious behaviour.
Dealing with security issues and threats is part of the work of a security guard. They should give warnings to those that break the rules, and be prepared to eject violators from the premises using an appropriate amount of force if necessary.
The security guard may have to monitor camera feeds and watch CCTV for a long period of time, or operate screening devices to stop prohibited items from getting into protected areas. The inspection and adjustment of monitoring equipment might come under the jurisdiction of the security guard, too.
As well as the usual guarding duties that you would expect, a security guard should be able to keep good records of any irregularities and be prepared to deal with them if the need arises.
Skills to look for in a security guard
When you are hiring a security guard, there are different types of skills you should be looking for, including both technical skills and soft skills.
Security guards need a quite specific set of skills for success, so focus on applicants who can demonstrate the following:
- Active listening
- Critical thinking
- Reading comprehension
- Social perceptiveness
- Interpersonal skills
Depending on the technology you use in your business, you might want a security guard that is skilled in certain software, like the Microsoft Office suite for emails and word processing (important for creating reports and sending updates and information). They might need proficiency in specific monitoring software, or database management, depending on the security systems that you have in place.
Useful abilities for a security guard
There are several different abilities that a successful security guard must have, and the following is a list of those aptitudes that you should look out for in applicants.
- Good oral comprehension and expression
- Selective attention
- Problem sensitivity
- Inductive/deductive reasoning
- Good vision
- Speech recognition and clarity
These are the abilities that a security guard will use every day while performing the necessary tasks in this role, so a high level of ability in these attributes should ensure that your chosen candidate is successful.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a security guard?
Soft skills testing should be considered an important part of the application process for a security guard, since the results can show which candidates have the necessary proficiency in the skills needed for the role.
Some soft skills tests that would be beneficial for a security guard application include:
- Accountability: a security guard needs to have the integrity to take responsibility for their actions and maintain a high level of professionalism.
- Interpersonal Skills: even for a security guard patrolling empty premises at night, having good interpersonal skills will ensure that they can deal with problems like intruders with calm and tact where needed is important.
- Teamwork: a security guard will need to work as part of a team, whether that is the security team or as part of the wider business team.
- Drives: a type of personality test that looks at what motivates a candidate and how they react to pressure.
Soft skills can be notoriously hard to quantify without testing; an applicant can claim to have competency in these skills but without actual data, it is hard to tell.
The soft skills tests provide quantifiable data that can compare applicants to each other, as well as to the requirements for the role, so you can choose the applicant most likely to succeed.
Which technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a security guard?
Technical tests for a security guard role – looking at proficiency with different software, for example – will vary from industry to industry and even from company to company.
In terms of aptitude, the below tests would be most useful in finding the best candidate for your security guard role:
- Verbal Reasoning: this test covers oral comprehension and expression, as well as problem-solving.
- Logical Reasoning: with questions relating to both inductive and deductive reasoning, the logical reasoning test also considers how easily a candidate can spot problems (problem sensitivity) and think critically about answers.
- Error Checking: error checking tests deal with selective attention and perceptual speed, as well as coordination and attention to detail.
Our recommended test battery for a security guard
Our recommended test battery for candidates who have applied to become a security guard includes the most important soft skills and aptitudes. Using these as part of your pre-employment screening process will ensure that you only take forward the candidates who are most promising.
Verbal reasoning: the assessment is a multiple-choice test. Each question is presented following a passage of text, and the candidate must quickly read, understand, and evaluate the information provided before answering the question. This is an assessment of their oral comprehension as well as reading ability, and demonstrates that they can make reasoned decisions based on written information.
Accountability: presents scenarios that require a candidate to identify the most effective way to respond with ownership and integrity. Success on this test indicates a candidate who may be more reliable and can be counted on to follow through with their responsibilities.
Interpersonal skills: a scenario-based assessment that puts candidates into situations where they need to use judgement and both teamwork and leadership skills to deal with a problem. It is a realistic way to assess the soft skills that are needed to work successfully with other people at different levels.
For more information about hiring a security guard, you can check out Picked's security guard test guide.