What is the Police Polygraph?
A polygraph, commonly referred to as a “lie detector,” may be required when you apply for a law enforcement job, depending on the specific agency and job you are applying for. Jobs requiring a top-secret clearance usually polygraph during the hiring process, as do many state and local law enforcement agencies. Often job announcements will list if a polygraph is required.
Taking a polygraph is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the law enforcement application process. It is possible for applicants who are telling the truth to appear like they are not. However, opting out of a required polygraph is not an option if you want to continue in the hiring process.
If you fail a polygraph, you must disclose that when applying to a law enforcement agency in the future, even if that agency does not require a polygraph. This may negatively impact your chance of being hired, which is why it is vital to pass the polygraph in the first “go.”
Why do Police Departments use Polygraphs?
Agencies may polygraph candidates to:
- Verify the information the candidate already provided
- Find out information they are not disclosing
- Determine if they are honest and trustworthy
In the academy, they can teach you offensive driving, how to shoot a firearm, and other physical tactics, but they cannot teach you integrity. That is why agencies go to great lengths to find candidates who are honest and trustworthy.
The Police Polygraph Process
The polygraph is usually one of the final stages of the application process because administering the test can be expensive. It usually happens after you pass the police written test, oral board interview, and physical agility test.
Before taking the polygraph, you will be given a background questionnaire. Make sure to answer truthfully since the information you provide will be compared to the answers you provided elsewhere during the application process.
Common Polygraph Questions
Some of the topics the questionnaire and polygraph may cover include:
- Personal history
- Negative information from other agencies (such as previously failing a polygraph)
- Employment background
- Criminal behavior
- Financial information
- Illegal drug use
- Alcohol use
- Illegal or deviant sexual behavior
Best Polygraph Prep
The online course Mastering the Polygraph, developed by Sgt. Godoy, will provide you with the tips and techniques you need to pass your polygraph honestly. (It does NOT teach you how to lie during a polygraph.) The course is mobile-friendly and provides unlimited use!
Mastering the Polygraph will cover:
– How the polygraph works
– How the exam is conducted
– Questions that may be asked during the polygraph
– Bonus: an interactive, practice polygraph to help you prepare for the actual test!