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Polygraph Test

This section takes a look at effective strategies you can adopt while undertaking the police polygraph test.

Police Polygraph Text

It would be John Augustus Larson, a Californian police officer, who invented the polygraph in 1921. This test, although inadmissible in court, is ubiquitously used in many states to screen applicants, and therefore remains an important part of passing your police test. Erroneously known as the lie detector, its results entirely depend on the subjective interpretation of the examiner and not on some mythical ‘truth/lie’ detection system. This subjectivity is rarely discussed in common discourse, but is central to understanding the true operation of this exam. So what physiological parameters do they measure in the police polygraph test, well, they analyze:

Factor About
Respiratory Rates Rates of Inhalation and Exhalation
Heart Rate Factors such as Blood Pressure
Electro-Dermal Activity Measures the output from sweat glands on the skin, fingertips being the most conducive parts of the hand liable to sweating. The more sweat, the greater the conductivity of your skin.

Before you begin the polygraph, you may be asked to undergo a pre-test interview. The purpose of this test is to inform the candidate of the accuracy of the polygraph (to render candidates even more nervous), nature and type of questions on the exam, as well as instructing candidates to sign a waiver so that the results of the test will be forwarded to the relevant police department in case of employment.

The police polygraph test will, however, begin by asking you a series of basic questions such as asking if you’re married. The purpose of these simple questions is to establish a baseline of normative activity for the polygraph, such that any discrepancies in the interrogative questions (see below) will become detected as potential lies. The answers to your questions will later by analyzed by the examiner who’ll arrive at one of three possible results: truthful, untruthful, or inconclusive. Fear not if you happen to score an ‘untruthful’, as quite regularly candidates are called back to clarify their answer to that particular question.

Police Polygraph Test Questions

You need not worry if you think examiners will ask ridiculously personal and private questions. You’ll be happy to hear, thanks to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission, that these types of awkward and unfair questions are now prohibited. However, you will be asked a series of questions that reflect your criminal history or possible connections to criminal activity. Knowing the type of question you’ll be asked makes it easier to prepare for the exam. Below, you’ll find fifteen commonly asked police interview questions during this exam:

  • Did you deliberately tell a lie during your police application?
  • Did you tell the complete truth during your police test application?
  • Were you ever dismissed from a job?
  • Have you committed an undetected crime since the age of [#]?
  • Have you been convicted of any crime since the age of [#]?
  • In the past twelve months, have you smoked marijuana more than [#] per [#]?
  • In the past twelve months, have you used any illegal narcotic drug?
  • Have you ever sold any illegal narcotic drug in the past [#] years?
  • Have you ever stolen more than $ [#] from the workplace of any previous employer?
  • Have you ever stolen more than $ [#] from any employee you’ve worked with in the past?
  • Did you ever deliberately cheat, or be deceptive, against any previous employer?
  • Have you ever had your driver’s license suspended or revoked?
  • Have you ever committed an undetected driving offense in the past [#] years?
  • Have you ever taken part in, or become complicit in, any crime in the past [#] years?
  • Have you lied in any of the above questions asked in this interview?

As you can see, the police interview questions asked are terse and to the point. The values chosen for money and years, represented as [#] above, is determined by the individual examiner and police department. However, the content is more or less the same. You can expect a police test exam along the lines of these questions, so you need to know what strategies you can employ to effectively tackle them.

Polygraph Test

Techniques for Answering Police Interview Questions

The polygraph examiner is a skilled practitioner in extracting damaging admissions from policing applicants. Knowing their interrogation techniques, and knowing what to avoid, puts you in a stronger place to deal with police interview questions and the test itself.

One of the most common techniques employed by examiners is pretending to be empathetic to your cause. By pretending to be your “friend”, the examiner hopes to place you in a false sense of security where you’ll feel the need to tell more damaging information than the question has actually asked for. For instance, the examiner may revert to using phrases such as:

  • “Everybody has a past they’re not proud of.”
  • “Nobody is perfect, so don’t worry about that.”

The Police Polygraph Test

These phrases should raise red flags. The best way to approach any question is simply to avoid saying too much. In your initial application and assessment, you went through various stages that required you to tell the truth. If, in this test, you were to admit more than is deemed necessary, this will come across as dishonest because you didn’t admit to it in prior assessments. In other words, you only need to admit damaging information you’ve already disclosed in your original application or during the pre-test examination. Passing your police polygraph test requires you to be astute of what you’re saying and how you say it.

In addition, try to stick to the question at hand while avoiding supply of irrelevant information. If the examiner believes you’re trying to dodge a question, this will come across as very suspicious. You need to avoid this outcome by supplying concise and accurate answers to the questions posed. Consistency throughout the entirety of your policing application should be at the heart of how you answer police interview questions — keep this in mind as you approach the police polygraph test.

Passing your police polygraph test, therefore, depends on sticking to three simple techniques: consistency, honesty, and non-disclosure of irrelevant detail. Adhering to these rules, should you be innocent of all charges; is sure to guarantee success and swift transfer to the next stage in the police test process.

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