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Interview Questions for a Security Department Manager

by Debra Kraft

Companies hire security department managers to address either facility or information systems security. While each role has distinct requirements, a common thread is the focus on protecting a company's assets and employees. Security department managers must have sufficient expertise in the field to recognize risks and recommend and implement controls to prevent negative impacts. These managers must also be able to lead both the security department and the company as a whole toward a secure environment. Interview questions should assess not only each candidate's capabilities in the field, but also his ability to fit with the culture of the company.

Cultural Fit

Every workplace has its own culture, ranging from the laid-back styles of some technology innovators to more rigid environments such as those found in the military. A security department manager must be able to establish policies and procedures that keep the workplace and its assets secure without causing turmoil among employees. Some interview questions should zero in on personality and behavior to determine if there is a cultural fit. Ask candidates to share positive and negative experiences dealing with colleagues within and outside the security department, or to describe what they see as an ideal workplace cultural environment.

Collaborative Leadership

A security department manager aligns more closely with the role of a police chief than a patrol officer. Just as a police chief works with community leaders, this manager must work with other managers to establish effective security measures that protect the workplace without impeding progress. Interviewers will want to determine which candidates are more likely to work collaboratively with their management colleagues -- and which might be more likely to simply lay down the law. Ask each candidate to describe previous experiences developing security strategies and introducing those strategies to the workplace.

Security Systems Management

A security system includes policies, procedures, facility- or technology-based controls and audits to assess compliance, enabling any gaps to be identified and closed. Frame some questions around each of these aspects of security management. Ask candidates what types of policies they have created and what standards were used as a basis. Also find out how policy objectives have been communicated and enforced.

Security Controls

A security background is a must. Interviewers will want to explore each candidate's experiences in applying security controls and encountering and addressing risks. Ask the candidate to describe the extent of her experience based on factors such as facility size and number of employees in the workplace. Frame specific questions relating to the hiring company's existing protocols and future needs. Find out what she sees as particular risks and what types of controls are needed to mitigate those risks.

Training

While a security department manager is responsible for protecting employees and company assets, security awareness is everyone's job. The security department manager will have a key role in the success of security awareness programs, from development to implementation. Find out what experiences candidates have had with regard to training employees about critical security measures. Ask whether they developed and delivered training directly, participated in the process or relied on the efforts of other groups, such as human resources.

About the Author

A careers content writer, Debra Kraft is a former English teacher whose 25-plus year corporate career includes training and mentoring. She holds a senior management position with a global automotive supplier and is a senior member of the American Society for Quality. Her areas of expertise include quality auditing, corporate compliance, Lean, ERP and IT business analysis.

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