Are Polygraphs Lying to Us?
Being prepared for every step of the hiring process before you show up will place you in a better position to end up wearing a badge than being caught flat footed wondering what happened when the career you have been intensely pursuing evaporates before you eyes.
If polygraphs are so great why arenít the results admissible in court cases? Criminologists say lie detector tests pass 10 percent of the liars and fail 20 percent of the truth-tellers.
The first time I ever had contact and talked to Scott was 45 minutes after he got the call that he had failed his poly. Needless to say he was devastated. When I asked him what he had done to prepare for his polygraph he said he used the free information from some of the ďexpertsĒ on some of the firefighter Internet forums. Using those guidelines he said he went in and spilled his guts, just like going to confession.
Just a few minutes into our conversation he realized that he had become too familiar with the evaluator, got chatty, volunteered too much beyond what was requested, was really nervous but thought everything was going just great.
Scott wrote: I chose to take this test knowing I had nothing to hide and being truthful was the best route I could take. The next test I take, I assure you, I will be better prepared.
I believe Scott is only referring to understanding the process better. Iím a firm believer in preparing for every step in the hiring process before you get there.
According to Doug Williamson a 35-year veteran polygraph evaluator from www.polygraph.com ďIt is a very serious mistake to believe that you will pass your polygraph or CVSA tests just because you are telling the truth - they are not "lie detectors". Scientific research proves that simple nervousness will cause a truthful person to fail!Ē
I talked to Scott after he checked out polygraph.com. He realized he had not been as prepared as he could have been before his polygraph and revealed information beyond what was required. If he had it to do over again he would have been better prepare on the process before his evaluation and could have had a better opportunity of passing without compromising his truthfulness.
I echo what Capt. Bob says in that you need to be prepared going in. I went in with the attitude that I was not going to try to deceive them. Well...I was notified that there were some irregularities on a couple of portions. That was after waiting about 4 weeks for the results. Fortunately they let me go back and address the portions in question. Another nerve wracking wait, and finally word that I passed. Personally I don't think I could go through that again, I'm glad it's over. If I have any words of advice, it would be to research what a polygraph is all about, relax, and do not...DO NOT be anything less than completely truthful. In the end, what I had done was less important to them than that I was forthcoming about it. Brad
DM: I had a poly today. There were six pages of questions asked verbally by him before he hooked up the poly. When hooked up, there where only ten questions asked 3x in different order each set.
DM All seemed to go well until the end when the examiner asked me:
"Anything you want to tell me about the question you had a problem with?"
Me (puzzled) "NO"
Again he asked as he began to take the equipment off me.
Me (really puzzled now).."I can't think of anything"
Then he proceeds to tell me that there was one particular question that I had elevation on.
Should I consider or was this all a smoke screen to get a boring person to confess to something?
CB: Quite common to use this smoke screen to get you to confess to something.
DM: After all my preparation, I didn't consider the poly. But after that past experience I looked up polys. I hope my oversight did not come back to bite me in the end.
Often candidates are eliminated through the poly with inconclusive results. Not that you failed, but itís the same as you did. Why is that? You didnít fail and you didnít pass? Your results were inconclusive. You still donít go forward in the hiring process. I think the problem again is candidates need to prepare for the poly the same as with any segment of the hiring process.
Randy had the same problem. He took the poly and the evaluator eliminated him with inconclusive results based on his use of pot within the last five years. He swore he had not. Yea, right you say, but thatís his story.
So, Randy jumps on the Internet and found www.polygraph.com and www.passapolygraph.com He educated himself on what to expect. He took a poly for another agency and passes with flying colors even that inconclusive area about pot and was hired.
Question: I will be taking a polygraph soon (presuming I do well in the interview) and just tonight talked to a friend of mine who was hired last year at the same dept. He told me that they asked him, during the pre-qualification questions if he had received advise on how to cheat polygraphs or had researched it on the Internet. Beware of this. I am now worried about researching anything about polys on the web.
Reply: No worries.
FF/PM1 Wrote in this previous posting:
Yes, I was asked if I had researched polygraphs in my pre-interview, but not in the actual polygraph exam. The examiner asked me why I researched polygraphs? Was I going to manipulate it? I said of course not, but I always study before going into a test, I knew nothing about polygraphs prior to my hiring process and wanted to know what they are about.
While I am a big advocate of honesty in the hiring process, I am also an advocate on RESEARCH prior to entering into a new portion of the hiring process.
This does not make you a "cheater" or "dishonest" for wanting to know what you are getting yourself into, just thorough.
I researched every step of my hiring process. I learned everything I could about interviews, medicals, psych exams, polygraphs, backgrounds...not because I was trying to manipulate the system with deception or dishonesty, but I wanted to know what is next.
Honesty was the foundation of everything during my hiring process. I used this formula.....
If asked, a truthful answer was always given.
If asked a question, I would answer the question honestly then be quiet.
All other times I sat there with my mouth shut.
I have had friends fail polygraphs, not because they were dishonest, but they were not educated for what they were getting into. They sat down and were honest, but when answering one of the polygrpaher's questions, they would answer the question and then ADD additional info not even asked for. This ultimately led to their demise.
Learning about a polygraph does not mean I am trying to cheat it. Were you trying to cheat by going to fire stations and finding out what types of questions may be asked on the oral interview? No, you just wanted to be prepared.
Be honest, be prepared and be consistent.