Being strapped to a polygraph machine may be done as a part of the background check when applying for certain jobs, in particular those that require high-level integrity and reliability. Failing the lie detector test, more often than not, means failure to get the job. Just how do you make sure that you pass such a dreaded exam?
The single most important step to take to pass a pre-employment polygraph test is to answer the questions truthfully. It will also help to get enough sleep the night before and relax on the day of the exam. Using countermeasures can disqualify the applicant from continuing the lie detector test and the job.
Especially if you are about to apply for your dream job, don’t stop reading now.
There are do’s and don’ts of taking a pre-employment polygraph exam. How you fare in the truth-telling check can spell the difference between getting hired and taking your resume elsewhere. By the time you are through checking out this post, you will learn that countermeasures are a no-no and that you can pass the test without them.
1. Know What to Expect on Polygraph Test
The thought that you could be rejected by the employer because of failing the pre-employment polygraph exam is nerve-racking enough. Not having an idea of what a lie detector exam is can leave you anxious even more.
A polygraph test is just like any other test — you will have to prepare for it.
Sun Tzu, a Chinese military general and philosopher, once said that to know your enemy, you must become your enemy. Getting yourself acquainted with a polygraph machine and how a polygraph test goes can help you lower your anxiety, which is something that can keep you from passing your pre-employment screening exam.
Read Also: How To Clear Your Mind for a Polygraph Test
2. Get a Good Night’s Sleep
After doing your research, forget about the fact that you will have to undergo a lie detector test the following day. That’s because enjoying enough shut-eye the night before is of utmost importance if the goal is to pass the examination and obtain that much-deserved dream job of yours.
Sleep deprivation can cause stress, whose various indicators can be picked up by a polygraph machine. It can also impair you cognitively, which can keep you from understanding yes or no questions very well.
Fret not about failing because something as simple as being honest can help you pass the test with flying colors.
3. Follow the Usual Daily Routine
It’s true that a polygraph test is an important part of the pre-employment process. However, your day should not revolve around it. Acting like the day of your lie detector examination is just like any other day can help keep your stress and anxiety levels low — being a nervous wreck on your test day is a complete no-no.
Needless to say, if reaching for a cup of coffee is the first thing you do in the morning, switch on that coffee maker. If you have prescription medicines to take, pop those pills in your mouth.
Nothing can help you relax more than knowing you have complete control over your day.
Read Also: 5 Things That Can Mess Up a Polygraph Test
4. Eat a Healthy Snack
Part of maintaining a normal routine in order to keep polygraph-induced stress at bay is eating.
Consider having something healthy before you head to the testing center. You don’t want your stomach to complain before you get hooked up to the lie detector machine or while being asked yes or no questions. Being hungry is stressful. It can also cause your blood sugar levels to drop, which can yield anxiety-like symptoms.
But you should avoid a heavy snack either as it can also make you feel uncomfortable.
5. Look Professional, Feel Comfortable
Especially if the pre-employment polygraph exam will be conducted at your dream workplace and it’s very much likely that you will meet with the employer before or after the test, it’s definitely a good idea to show up at the venue dressed to impress — consider the examination as a part of the job interview.
But it’s important to dress comfortably, too.
Polygraph examiners strongly advise examinees against wearing tight and restrictive garments. And because the various sensors of a lie detector machine will be placed over your clothes, consider staying away from anything that’s baggy or bulky. It’s wise to bring a jacket just in case the testing area becomes too cold.
6. Head to the Testing Center Early
By now, you must be well aware of the fact that keeping your stress and anxiety levels low is fundamental to passing a pre-employment polygraph examination.
Rushing can activate the fight or flight response, which can increase your blood pressure, heart rate and other physiological processes that will be monitored throughout the lie detector test. In order to avoid having to haste and risk failing your polygraph exam, go to the venue of the testing ahead of time.
It will give you enough time to rest before the test as well as let you acclimatize to the room.
And since the lie detector test is a part of the pre-employment screening process for the job of your wildest dreams, being punctual may give you an edge in the employment race.
7. Pay Close Attention to Asking Questions
It was mentioned earlier that researching before your polygraph examination can help you reduce your fear about taking it. Prior to being asked yes or no questions, you will go through what’s known as the pre-test phase. Many things will take place during this stage, and they include the polygrapher informing you about the exam.
Don’t stop him or her and say you have already done your homework — just listen and learn.
Making sure that you completely understand each and every question before you answer with either a yes or no is very important. If you are not 100% certain that you got the question, feel free to politely ask the polygraph examiner to repeat it. But in many instances, this is unnecessary as the examiner will read the question more than once.
8. Avoid Using Polygraph Countermeasures
Last but not least, do not attempt to beat your pre-employment lie detector test with stuff that you might have read while researching online — slowing down your breath, placing a tack in your shoe, squeezing large muscle groups, biting your tongue or cheek, etc. They are called countermeasures, and they can be counterproductive!
If the polygraph examiner suspects you are deliberately trying to pass the test, he or she may discontinue the examination and give you a purposeful non-cooperation (PNC) diagnosis.
A PNC is similar to refusing to take the polygraph examination. So, in other words, it’s similar to saying no to a required pre-employment screening process. It can also speak volumes about your integrity, which makes you a terrible candidate for a job where being honest and reliable counts a lot.
Just Before You Take a Pre-Employment Polygraph Test
A polygraph test should not get in the way of you winning your dream job if you will answer each yes or no question asked during the examination honestly and truthfully. Keep in mind that admittance of a past mistake won’t necessarily disqualify you from the job. Cheating on a lie detector test, on the other hand, can!
Especially if an employer is looking for someone that he or she can trust and count on completely, taking a polygraph exam without cheating can earn you credit.
Can you fail a pre-employment polygraph by being too nervous?
Being anxious may cause the polygraph subject to get a false positive or an inconclusive result. A lie detector machine cannot tell the difference in physiological changes brought about by nervousness and deception. Trying to relax as much as possible is important to pass the test.
Does an inconclusive result cause you to lose eligibility for a job?
In most instances, an inconclusive result calls for a retake of the polygraph exam. It’s not uncommon for some employers to instead conduct an investigation as to what could have caused an inconclusive result. The outcome of the said investigation determines the next step necessary.