By: Andrea Haner
Most police departments in the United States require applicants to submit to polygraph testing before they make hiring decisions. Each department’s polygraph exam is different and the content of the examwill depend largely on the examiner. However, there are certain questions that appear frequently on police polygraph exams. Preparing for these questions beforehand can help reduce your anxiety going into the exam.
According to the book, How To Pass The Polygraph, a polygraph exam is often a “make or break” option in any public safety hiring process. That’s why it’s important to prepare yourself by looking over common questions beforehand.
Before the test begins, you will sit down with the polygraph examiner for a short interview. The examiner will assure you that the test will be done in a professional manner. He will then tell you the questions that you will be asked during the polygraph. This is your opportunity to make any admissions to the examiner or tell the examiner why a specific question makes you uncomfortable. For example, you may be asked if you have smoked marijuana more than 15 times in the past five years. If you can’t remember exactly how many times you have smoked marijuana, explain that to the examiner and give a rough estimate. He will then understand your hesitance when you are asked this question during the polygraph. Be completely honest during the pretest interview and you will have nothing to worry about during the examination itself.
Typical Police Polygraph Questions
Exact questions vary from department to department, but police polygraphs typically include variations of the following questions:
- Have you had any traffic citations in the past five years?
- Have you ever had your driver’s license suspended or revoked?
- Have you been convicted of a crime since you turned 18?
- Have you ever taken part in a serious crime?
- Have you used marijuana in the past five years?
- Have you used any illegal narcotics in the past five years?
- Have you sold marijuana or any other illegal narcotics in the past 10 years?
- Have you ever stolen from an employer?
- Have you ever been fired from a job?
- Did you make any false statements on your job application?
- Did you deliberately make any false statements during this polygraph examination?
The time frames and ages will likely be different for each police department. Before you go into the exam, try to create a mental time line of when events occurred in your past, including traffic citations, convictions, employment sanctions and drug use. This will help you answer time-specific questions on the polygraph.
The best way to do well on a polygraph exam is to remain calm and tell the truth. Be honest and candid about your past during both the pretest interview, which will help you stay calm during the polygraphitself. There’s no more certain way to fail a polygraph test than to lie about your past.