Should Background Checks be Required for Haunt Actors?

Staff | August 30, 2022

Actor greeting

Each summer or early fall most haunted houses start the process of figuring out who is coming back from the previous season and hiring new staff. This includes ticketing staff, parking, security, make-up artists, and most importantly actors. Check out this blog post for tips for recruiting haunt actors.

The process for getting hired is going to vary by haunt but generally actors will go through a simple audition and training. Other staff may be interviewed or need to show proof that they either have experience or can learn quickly and perform the job. Since these jobs are seasonal and part-time, hiring managers for haunted houses typically don't spend too much time evaluating each applicant.

Actors coming through door

Most haunted houses and scream parks will see thousands, or tens of thousands, of people in the month of October alone. This includes kids, teens, older people, people with disabilities, and everyone in between. Nearly every person working in a haunt is coming in contact with all of these people. And it only takes one person getting injured or assaulted by an actor (or staff) to really hurt the reputation of the company, and leave the company open to liability.

Most courts will hold the company liable if it can be demonstrated that due diligence was not exercised. Hiring a person that has been convicted of a violent crime and/or sex crime is not going to be a good idea in most circumstances. This is where background checks become crucial even though in most cases haunts are not required by law to run them.

Actors posing

By requiring a background check for all staff, hiring managers can be more confident about the people they hire. This due diligence goes a long way in reducing risk for the business.

Earlier this year, Sithon partnered with Checkr, a leading background check provider, to integrate background checks into our actor management platform. This integration allows haunts that use Sithon to quickly request background checks for all, or selected, staff in just a few minutes. Once results are available, they are immediately displayed on the Background Checks page and it's simple to automate hiring decisions based on results. For example, managers might want actors whose background check comes back as "clear" to automatically update to "hired" status.

Even if a haunt is not required by law or contract to perform background checks, it is extremely valuable to still do so. It reduces liability and the chances of hiring someone who should not be working with the public. This is even more critical if the haunt is labeled as "extreme" or "full-contact." At the end of the day, all haunted attraction owners and managers want to provide a scary, but safe, experience for every customer.