August 1, 2013

Ensure Internal Security With These Hiring Steps

Regardless of the scope or location of your business, chances are good that you’ll have to identify employees you can trust. This is an issue that comes up time and time again, and for good reason: People, not just processes and technologies, can help to ensure proper security.

Here’s a hard-won truth realized by many organizations concerned about internal security: You are going to spend far less time (and money) finding the right people than you will by continually hiring and firing the wrong people.

The key to hiring trustworthy personnel is trying to know as much about them as possible. You want to get as much information about each prospective hire as you can, as soon as you can. That information includes public data like background reports, and “mental data” like how detailed and forthcoming they are when answering interview questions.

Here are tips for hiring the right employees:

Run a background check.

You’re not playing “Big Brother” here; you’re doing your job as a responsible business leader. If a red flag appears, especially regarding security (theft, falsifying business records, etc.), walk away. If something else you see is possibly alarming, ask the candidate to explain his or her situation, and then use your best judgment.

The search typically consists of confirmation of prior employment claims, determination of worker’s compensation claims and criminal and incarceration records, drug tests, credit history and driving record.

Ask for three references, and talk to each one.

Get a feel for what the candidate was previously like as an employee.

Be careful when outlining job descriptions.

Prior to the interview, make sure you understand the key elements of the job. Develop a simple outline that covers the duties. Small businesses often trust their employees with more work and more responsibility than bigger companies, which can open the door to opportunities for fraud or embezzlement.  Be wary of how much control you give to your employees. Be trusting, but also have a system to account for each person’s work.

Ask about security-procedure experience.

Your candidates probably don’t have the experience of a seasoned armored guard, but have they undergone any training related to security? How would they handle a potential problem on the job? Can they think of possible ways to proactively prevent crime and security violations?

Consider supplementary screening for unwanted behavior.

Depending on the position you’re trying to fill, there are supplementary screening options available. Psychological testing, handwriting analysis, skill and aptitude tests and even lie detector tests are additional assessment tools that business owners exercise today to help them select the best job candidates. Such profiling allows you to select people who have the skills and the temperament needed to succeed in your business.

Identify the knowledge, attributes and skills the applicant needs for success.

Every employee is different, but what are the common traits of trustworthy ones? Identify about five attributes and structure your interviews accordingly. A possible question: “What financial responsibility, authority or control have you had in the past?”

Ask a mix of behavior-based and situational-based questions.

The best interview follows a structured process. This doesn’t mean the entire process is inflexible without spontaneity. What it means is, each applicant is asked the same questions and is scored with a consistent rating process. The best way to accomplish this is by using behavioral- and situational-based questions.

Behavioral-based questions help to evaluate the applicant’s past judgment and initiative (Two examples: “Give me an example of when you handled an issue you didn’t really want to deal with.” “Tell me about the last time you broke the rules.”)

Situational-based questions evaluate the applicant’s ability and knowledge. The interviewer gives the applicant a hypothetical situation. (“Pretend you are the store manager, and one of your employees has just told you he thinks another worker is stealing merchandise from the store. What should you do?”)


Security issues are widespread — they happen inside and outside the building, online and offline, day and night. Maximum effort takes a team effort in addition to the right processes and technologies. So make sure your company takes the above steps to solidify that security as much as possible.


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