Polygraph pre-test # 2.

Alright, to follow-up from the last post (Polygraph test information: part 1). The applicant has his polygraph test appointment, he has down loaded and filled out his polygraph screening booklet and then the day comes to go to the polygraph test site. This post is follow up information on the polygraph pre-test.

The test site?

Along with the polygraph screening booklet, there are usually some other forms that need to be filled out by the applicant. Because of scheduling, if an applicant is more than 15 minutes late, that appointment will usually have to be canceled/rescheduled due to overlap with the next appointment.

Also, part of preparation for the applicant is the day before the test. You need to get a good nights rest. This is extremely important because I have had on more occasions than I can count test subjects falling asleep in the polygraph chair. I know this may seem like a surprise, but it happens. When a person is sitting still not moving, it is a subtle form of meditation. And if a person is tired to some degree, they will start to nod off. If this continues to happen throughout the testing, I would unfortunately have to stop the test and schedule them for another day when they are more rested. It would be a disservice to the test subject to try to test them in that condition.

You have arrived!

Okay, the applicant makes it to the test site on time. Alright!!!

I have a word to the wise on arriving on time. On time in the business world of successful people means 15 to 20 minutes early. Arriving any less than that, is considered not very professional. Of all the applicants I have tested, I would say that greater than 90 percent arrived usually 15 minutes to one half hours early. And in the real world that means a lot.

I greet the applicant in the office, and get the proper documents from them (as I said before a drivers license, state ID, passport, or green card.). These documents are important as the identity of the test subject has to be confirmed. I will review the polygraph pre-employment screening booklet that was filled out prior to coming to the test site. In some cases, I have the applicant sit outside the office while I review the documents submitted or I may bring them directly into my office. Most of the time, it is the former. Once in the office, I will document their information and get more bio-metric data, which includes a photograph of them and a photograph of their identification card. I also have them sign a release form that advises them that the whole process will be audio video recorded. During this entire first process of meeting with the test subject, I start to try to calm the test subject down in case they are nervous.


Before going any further I start to reduce G. N. T., General nervous tension! This is done to improve the quality of the test. Remember this acronym GNT, (nervousness) as I will follow-up on this in later posts.

I then go over the process of polygraph with the applicant. This includes some of the history, the mechanics of polygraph, how polygraph works, its limitations and examples of prior testing. I do not go into a lot of detail about this unless they have specific questions. Because of their state of mind, I may be sounding like Charlie Brown’s teacher to them.

Pre-test interview.

We then start the pretest interview which includes any concerns they may have. We go over every question in the polygraph screening booklet, question by question, page by page. This process takes approximately one and a half hours to two and a half hours. Before going through this, I let the applicant know that we will possibly be talking about things that are unpleasant/uncomfortable, things that their closest family member, friend, spouse does not know about.

I let them know that this is all confidential within the process. I also tell them that it is extremely rare that something is not added to the polygraph screening booklet that they had not previously entered. This is because I will ask questions a little bit differently and give examples pertaining to such. This usually jogs their memory about something else that they forgot to add to the booklet.

In my experience, it is extremely rare that we do not add more to the polygraph screening booklet during this process. This is the main reason for doing the pretest interview of the pre-screening booklet.

In the past, applicants have had concerns about this process. They have told me, “I have filled out the polygraph screening booklet, set it down and later remembered something else and added that to the booklet. Days later, I remember something else and added that to the screening booklet. Now, my concern is while we are sitting here going over this booklet again, if we add something else to it, is that going to make me look bad?” My answer is NO. Everybody’s memory can be jogged.

When we are asked questions a little bit differently and given examples about the questions, a lot of times we remember things that we had not previously thought about.

Okay, this is the pretest interview. After we are done the pretest interview and have gone through the applicant booklet, I then tell the applicant that we are getting ready to switch gears. All the admissions the applicant made, we no longer care about. That is all water under the bridge. When I test, I no longer am interested in what they told me. What we are testing for is when somebody has something on their mind that they should have told me but they did not. So one of my last questions to the test subject is “”Is there anything else from your past that I did not necessarily cover in these questions that is on your mind that we need to talk about before we start testing?”” My next blog will be on setting up and running the actual polygraph test. This is where it can get very deep and complicated but I will try to keep it as simple as possible.

If you have any questions, ask away. I will try to answer them in a timely manner.

Leave a Comment