Polygraph Test – What to Expect

Polygraph Test – What to Expect

Danny Seiler – Examiner

One of the most often asked questions is, “How long does the test take”. The easy answer is about an hour and a half. Continue reading and you will learn why it takes an hour and a half and sometimes more.

Before you arrive,  I have done the following to make sure that I am ready.  I have reviewed all background information, and I have spoken with the requesting client.  I have also checked my equipment. I check to make sure my instrument is calibrated and working correctly.  I want to make sure that everything is in good order before starting. 

A safe distancing and other protocols will be implemented during a state of emergency.  Otherwise, the following are the chronological order for my test.

1. I greet the examinee in the reception area.  In better health times, I would shake the examinee’s hand and greet them warmly.  I then escort the client to my exam room. 

2. After I cordially greet the examinee, I engage in 5 to 10 minutes of rapport building conversation.  My goal is to reduce the examinee’s general nervous tension in some obvious way.

3.  I give an overview in a non-accusatory manner, telling the examinee what he/she can expect during his time in my office. 

4.  I explain my release form, then ask him to read, initial, and sign the bottom of the form if he/she agrees to all of the terms.

5.  After the consent form is approved, I point out my recording equipment, take a picture and turn on the video recording.

6.  I collect identification and background information on the examinee. I used a modified Lafayette computer form to record all data.

7.  I review the medical and psychological background of the examinee, also use another Lafayette form for the collection of this data.  I explain to the examinee that I need his/her honest responses to all of my questions.  I want to make sure the examinee is eligible or suitable for taking the polygraph.   I also asked the examinee if he/she has ever had a polygraph test before today, if so, with whom and for what reason.

8.  After qualifying the examinee for testing, I give a short lecture on the theory of polygraph, and I explain the instrumentation to him or her.

9.  I briefly explain to him/her why I believe the reason is for testing.  I prompt him/her to tell me a true story about why they think the purpose of the test and what do they hope to accomplish by taking the test.  I ask the examinee to give an accurate and complete story about his case.  I explain that there are two ways that he/she could lie to me in his/her account. 

1.  The examinee could lie about something factual. Doing this is called a lie of commission.       

 2.  The examinee could leave out some critical information.  Doing this would be called a lie by omission.

I  give the examinee plenty of opportunities to provide a narrative without interruption. I make notes and go back after the statement for any clarification. 

10.  If needed, the examinee can take a bathroom break.

11.  I will then attach the polygraph attachments explaining each one as I go.  I tell the examinee that I’m going to conduct a short test, stimulation test, to make sure that the instrument is working correctly.  

 12.  I then review all of the questions to be asked and collect at least three question series.  The average test takes about an hour and a half.  After the collection of the chart data is complete, the test is over.  I will allow the examinee to comment on anything that has happened while he/she has been in my office.   

It takes about 48 hours to analyze the data and prepare my report.  The delivery of my report is usually delivered by an encrypted password-protected email.    

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