Thread: Passing polygraph?
01-10-2005, 05:38 PM #1
Not that I lied on the application..but I've been hearing some real horror stories of folks nervous during questions and failing? Can this happen?
01-10-2005, 05:40 PM #2
- Join Date
- Aug 2003
- All over the east coast
Yep, it can definitely happen. Just try to keep your cool, and hopefully they understand, unlike the 1 dept. I had a polygraph for...
01-10-2005, 05:47 PM #3
01-10-2005, 06:55 PM #4
- Join Date
- Jun 2002
According to the American Polygraph Association, who are the chief proponents of polygraphs, there is an average accuracy of 81%. This basically means that 20% of those taken a polygraph cannot get an accurate reading.
In my humble opinion, this is not good enough and I don't believe that polygraphs have any place in the hiring of firefighters.
01-10-2005, 06:58 PM #5
- Join Date
- Jan 2003
- Los Alamos, New Mexico, USA
To tell the truth, neither do I.
01-10-2005, 07:02 PM #6
Part of the problem with polygraphs is that many people that have to take one are scared to death before they get there. I have taken a few during my career as I have progressed in jobs. It is nothing painful and there are no "surprises". The polygrapher will sit down with you and conduct a calm, civil, interview before you are hooked up to the devise. He/she will go over the questions and your answers so that you can ask questions and explain items that may not be clear. Once that is finished, you are attached to the devise and asked the same questions that you just answered. Not to hard to do... the key is to be honest and you will have nothing to worry about. The vast majority of employers realize that no one is perfect and that everyone has made some bad decisions at some time. What is more important is that you have corrected any bad habits and are not currenlty involved in any undesirable activity.Richard Nester
Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.
"People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter
01-10-2005, 08:41 PM #7
- Join Date
- Dec 2003
I had to take the polygraph twice, the first time it came up inconclusive, but after a second focused polygraph, I had no problem passing it. It is really better suited to a focused line of questioning. Overall, not pleasant, but not awful either. I was worried after the first one that I would fail the second, but it was not a problem.
01-10-2005, 09:04 PM #8
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
Many get anxious before taking a poly because they don't know what to expect and aren't prepared. I believe you should have educated yourself before each step in the testing and hiring process to be prepared before your next segment.
Some departments use polygraphs as part of the hiring process. More than one background investigator will ask candidates if they will submit to a polygraph to verify their information. You can agree at that time to move along the process; but understand they cannot and will not give you a polygraph if it wasn’t stated on the job announcement.
If polygraphs are so great why aren’t 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.
If there is a polygraph in your future hiring, check out this web site: www.polygraph.com
There seems to be a pattern of the examiner hammering candidates in one or more areas during a polygraph to try and get them to admit to something that supposedly shows a suspected reaction to a question. If it is not true, stick to your guns; even if it is questionable.
I know of candidates who have failed a polygraph, have educated themselves how to get through a polygraph and passed the next. Others’ have claimed they purchased programs on the Internet and successfully passed the polygraph.
If you don’t think there is something going on with the polygraph, consider this:
A candidate contacted me after he showed up for his polygraph. The evaluator asked him several questions before he hooked him up. One of the questions he was asked was had he gone to any web sites that offer information how to prepare for a polygraph? Those sites can’t help you anyway said the evaluator. The candidate said no (even though he had).
In his background he had admitted to using pot twice. One of the questions he was asked when he was hooked up was had he smoked pot more than twice. He answered no. The evaluator asked him the same question two more times because he said had he was getting a reaction. While preparing for the polygraph, this candidate knew some evaluators use this ploy to get you to change your answer. There was probably no reaction. He replied no each time. Which was the truth. When the evaluator asked him why he thought there was a reaction each time, the candidate told him he couldn’t believe he had to try pot a second time to realize he did not like how he felt when he did. The interview was over.
Often, candidates get in trouble by what they will say before and after they are wired up for the test. Understand if you admit to something that you answered no on your application, you are automatically eliminated from the hiring process.
It’s interesting that there seems to be no connection between the information in a psych test and that covered in the polygraph.
I thought the best way to gain more experience for the polygraph is to include information from those that have gone through the process. The following information has not been verified. Take what you want and leave the rest.
These postings were gathered from the Internet bulletin boards.
Here we go:
Hey bud, I’m not an expert but I have just recently passed my first oral and failed my first background process thanks to the polygraph. I told some information in my background that probably would have never been found out but being the stupid honest guy thinking I would be praised for telling the truth. It actually nipped me in the ***.
My background was approved and at the polygraph I again was too honest about something and the ex-sheriff apparently had me depicted as GUILTY as soon as I explained. Needless to say he interrogated me and made me so angry stating that every time I was asked this particular question it was “bothering me” and stating “are you sure you’re telling everything.” I showed a response to this question every time apparently.
A week later I got my letter that my conditional offer of employment had been revoked, but thanks for applying and have a grrrrrrreat day! I know three buddies who pasted their polys and are nowhere near being a saint.
Two of them spent $50 on some document they got off of the Internet on “how to guarantee and pass the polygraph.” I don’t know if this would of helped me but if I could do it all over again I would have taken my buddies advice and that is tell em what they want to hear and don’t offer any info!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
GOOD LUCK BROTHER, YOU CAN DO IT.
More: I’m currently employed by a Fire Dept in the LA area. My opinion/advice towards the Poly and Background check is very simple:
Poly: there is no way in which a machine could read if you are lying or not. What this machine does is read your heartbeat, breathing, and your sweat glands by attaching two strips of Velcro with cables to 2 fingers.
My opinion about this machine is that the only thing they use this for is to have the examiner drill you on something (drug use, sex life, temper, etc). While they are conducting the exam, they pick something to drill you on. Once they chose something, they drill you constantly until you confess.
Example: John Doe lied on his application about the one time he smoked pot. He writes down that he has never used pot. When he goes to take his poly, the examiner tells him the machine is making a funny reading when he is asked about his drug use (the machine is not actually reading anything funny). John Doe gets drilled and drilled until John finally confesses. Because of this John gets disqualified. If John would have stuck to his story he would have never been disqualified.
As for backgrounds, they tell you to be honest. But sometimes being honest can bite you in the ***. When a background is being conducted the only obvious things they could find out are things like your driving, criminal record and credit history. Don’t be stupid and write down references that hate you. I’ve known some good people that should be fireman/cops, but get disqualified for being too honest.
Example: I know a guy who when he was young was playing basketball one day after school. After the game he and a buddy were walking by a classroom, they saw a window open and stole some stuff. They went home and never got caught. This dummy was too honest and got disqualified. There is no way in which anyone would ever find out.
Finally, I am not a background investigator, nor a polygraph examiner. I do however know a lot about this because I have a lot of friends who are cops and firefighters.
While processing to get our jobs we went through all this. We share stories and actually talk to these people. When I was in college I did a report on the polygraph. Hey, if O.J. Simpson passed his poly anybody can. As for you b/ground: if its not written down on record anywhere don’t tell them. They will never find out unless you tell them.
The reason I’m responding to this is because too many good people get disqualified for stupid things. If you are currently using drugs, they will find out at your medical, if you are weak, you won’t pass your PAT, if you are crazy the, psychiatrist will find out.
Still more: This is the part of the test that worries me too . . . I have actually taken one before and failed it, though I know that while being tested I was being entirely honest and open about my answers. The test I took did not want you to have a clean slate so I answered the questions accurately.
After they told me I had failed, they then drilled me to make sure there was not “something I did not tell them”, over and over - “are you sure, there must be something in your head you are not letting out.” It was the most frustrating thing to have someone look you in the face and based off a machine tell you are lying when you are not.
Now any polygraph I go to I will inevitably be freaked and wonder if I will fail on that fear alone. I do not have any answers for you, but based on the above, O.J. and my story it seems as though you simply cannot predict just what will happen.
Another one: I just took my polygraph and passed it. There was one question that the print out showed the lines going clear off the page. Supposedly showing that I was lying. This proctor drilled me on it. He almost turned militant, and somewhat hostile trying to get me to confess. The question he asked was, “have you ever been fired or asked to resign from a job.” I never have. I think the best advice I can give from my experience is to stick to your guns and do not let them back you into a corner.
If you know you are telling the truth, this stupid machine isn’t going to be able to tell the difference. The only reason the line went clear off the page was because I took a deep breath. Not a very dependable reading if you ask me.
See any patterns here? Like every step in the hiring process, you don’t want to go into a polygraph without being prepared. Educate yourself!
You can find more on testing secrets in the Career Article section from the Jobs drop down menu just above this posting.
"Nothing counts 'til you have the badge . . . Nothing!"
Fire "Captain Bob" Author, Becoming A Firefighter and
Conquer Fire Department Oral Boards
01-11-2005, 01:48 AM #9
Thanks guys..I guess the reason I asked was that on the written part I said i'd never stolen, now that I thought about it..me and a friend tried to steal a magazine at age 12..we got caught..so..now if I turn round and say I stole..I'm out for lying on the application? Or if if try to answer yes I've never stolen..it might set off the pologragh!!
Either way i think I'm screwed!!
01-11-2005, 02:41 AM #10
- Join Date
- May 2004
Here is some information that I have put together on polygraph examinations.
The intent of this chapter is not to advise candidates how to “beat” a polygraph exam, but rather to educate them on the process. Much of the research for this chapter was conducted by interviewing candidates who have been through the process and via my own personal experience with a pre-employment polygraph examination.
The name “polygraph” refers to the manner in which physiological activities are simultaneously recorded. The term literally means “many writings.”
The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1998 (EPPA) prohibits most private employers from administering prehire polygraph interviews. Of note, however, is the fact that this does not apply to public employers such as police and fire departments or governmental institutions.
Polygraph examiners use a series of different instruments placed strategically on the subject’s body. Convoluted rubber tubes that are placed over the examinee’s chest and abdominal area will record respiratory activity. Two small plates attached to the fingers will record sweat gland activity, and a blood pressure cuff will record cardiovascular activity.
Typically, polygraph examiners will administer a “pre-test.” During this period, the examiner will complete required paperwork and discuss the questions that will be covered during the exam proper. It is not uncommon for the examiner to ask the subject to intentionally lie about his or her age. The examiner shows the physical results to the subject to lend credibility to the test. Following the initial interview, the examiner will question the subject on anything that gives an unusual reading. The subject will have an opportunity to explain any unusual findings.
Proponents believe polygraph examinations are extremely accurate, while opponents argue that there is minimal science associated with the process. According to the Journal of Applied Psychology (1997), the polygraph examination has a 61% accuracy rate. According to Jerry Smith, former CIA general counsel, “The polygraph is not perfect. Honest people have failed, while dishonest people have passed. The polygraph is intrusive and may be abused. If it is misused it can ruin the careers of honest people.”
In an American Civil Liberties Union briefing paper, the article explains that despite the claims of lie detector examiners, there is no reliable machine that can detect lies with any degree of accuracy. The “lie detector” does not measure truth telling; it measures changes in blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate and perspiration. A wide range of emotions, such as anger, sadness, embarrassment and fear, can trigger these physiological changes. In addition, a variety of medical conditions, such as colds, headaches and neurological and muscular problems, can distort the results. Indeed, as an American Medical Association expert testified during public hearings before Congress, “The lie detector cannot detect much better than a coin toss.”
Proponents of polygraph screening believe that applicant’s prior knowledge of the agency’s policy to administer a polygraph results in a higher caliber of applicants. In other words, the ones with questionable backgrounds do not even apply. In addition, the applicants who do apply are generally more honest, knowing they will be put to task. Of course, this belief cannot be verified.
The American Polygraph Association (APA) Research Center at Michigan State University conducted a study of police departments to determine the extent of polygraph use for pre-employment screening for police officers. The survey included roughly 700 of the nation’s largest police departments, excluding federal agencies. The results revealed that 62% of police departments administer pre-employment polygraph examinations, while 31% did not, and 7% had discontinued the use because of legislation that had been put into place within their jurisdiction.
Of the applicants tested, roughly 25% were disqualified. Although it is difficult to determine exactly why the applicants were disqualified, the overwhelming majority were disqualified for some form of serious undetected crime. Of the agencies surveyed, the polygraph screening revealed that 9% were involved in unsolved homicide, 34% had some involvement with forcible rape, and 38% had participated in armed robberies.
According to the APA and the EPPA, no examiner shall delve into the following: religious beliefs; opinions or beliefs regarding racial matters; political beliefs or affiliations; lawful activities or affiliations with labor unions or labor organizations; sexual preferences or activities. Similar questions are presumably asked in fire department pre-examinations.
In law enforcement pre-employment examinations, the questions focus on such job-related inquiries as the theft of money or merchandise from previous employers, falsification of information on the job application, the use of illegal drugs during working hours, and criminal activities. Similar questions are presumably asked in fire department pre-employment examinations.
The results of the polygraph examination can only be released to authorized persons. These are generally considered to be the examinee and the person, firm, corporation or governmental agency which requested the examination.
If a polygraph examinee believes an error has occurred in the process, he or she has several options. He or she should first request in writing a second examination and retain an independent examiner. In the fire department testing arena, this would certainly come out of the applicant’s pocket with no guarantee the agency would accept the results. The applicant may also choose to file a complaint with the state licensing board for polygraph examiners and the Department of Labor. Lastly, he or she may file a request for assistance from the American Polygraph Association.
Polygraphs are not an exact science. At best they can give the examiner a strong indication the examinee may not be telling the truth. At worst they can give a false reading, which may ultimately result in declaring the applicant to be telling a lie. Whichever the case, applicants need to educate themselves on the process, as they are becoming more popular. An Internet search under “polygraph” examinations should yield more information for those who are interested.Paul Lepore
Author of Smoke Your Firefighter Interview and The Aspiring Firefighter's 2-year Plan
01-11-2005, 10:43 AM #11
- Join Date
- Aug 2002
- San Francisco Bay Area
Updateon the written part I said i'd never stolen, now that I thought about it..me and a friend tried to steal a magazine at age 12..we got caught..
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