Update: I would like to dispell some rumors that people think are true for beating a polygraph.
- DO NOT try to squeeze your anal sphincter. There is a seat cushion sensor in the polygraph chair that can detect your butt movements (even when you pass gas).
- DO NOT put a tack in your shoe. I know we all saw it in the Ocean’s 13 movie, but that is just Hollywood. There is often a floor pad sensor that you put your feet on that can detect changes in your foot pressure. If the polygrapher becomes suspicious, you may also be asked to remove your shoes.
- DO NOT try tongue biting. Some sites recommend this but I do not. When I took both my CIA and FBI polygraphs, I was sitting facing a side wall and the polygrapher was 90 degrees to my left. I could peripherally see him taking a hard look at my face, possibly my mouth and jaw movement. There are also cameras in the room and I have no idea how strong the resolution is. Someone else may watch your mouth movements too. If you slip up with the tongue biting, someone may notice. Some people have been told to keep their mouths open when suspected of tongue biting.
- DO use mental countermeasures (MCs). MCs are thoughts that will get you excited, such as someone you truly hate, a spectacular sports play, something scary, a gruesome scene, or sexual pleasure. Though if you are a male, you probably don’t want to think sexual thoughts and get aroused during this ordeal. More details below.
The polygraph is a complete joke and should be discontinued. It does not work. It is pseudoscience. Polygraphs measure your physiological responses, or your body’s actions, to questions. That is all. Just because you react to a question, it does not mean you are lying. The person giving you a polygraph, I will call him or her a polygrapher, has the duty to interrogate you when you react to questions. The confessions that a person makes during the interrogation is what causes most people to fail a polygraph. You can also fail based on how the polygrapher and his “quality control” staff interpret your charts. Generally speaking, when you make an admission to something bad, then you have failed. Otherwise, your polygraph charts that are some squiggly lines subject to interpretation.
For the record, even though I failed two CIA polygraphs in 2010, I passed my FBI polygraph in 2011. On my 2011 FBI Polygraph Report blog page, I posted my FBI Passing Timeline official document from the FBI that shows I passed the polygraph, which is why they continued with my drug testing and background investigation. My CIA experiences plus a little research helped me pass the FBI polygraph. I want everyone else to pass polygraphs too and render the machine useless. It only works on the uninformed.
If you are taking a polygraph it is usually for one of two reasons. First, you are trying to prove your innocence, either in a crime, a case of suspicion of infidelity, or something else. The second reason is for a job, probably law enforcement or intelligence. For the former, DO NOT TAKE THE POLYGRAPH. In the U.S., the prosecutor needs to prove you guilty, you do not need to prove your innocence. Taking a polygraph will just provide an opportunity for you to fail, by reacting on relevant questions, and you will make things worse. For the latter job reasons, you can decline the polygraph, but you just won’t get the job. So, for the rest of this article, I will assume you are taking a polygraph because you really want that law enforcement or intelligence job.
To pass a polygraph, follow these simple steps:
- Go in with a positive, friendly, and amiable attitude. Pretend you respect the polygrapher’s qualifications and that you think the machine works. Tell the polygrapher you plan to fully cooperate, be truthful, and that you will tell them anything they want to know (but in your mind, you should know that you will not disclose any disqualifying information about yourself). If the polygrapher likes you, your chances of passing are better.
- Understand that you are very likely be interrogated and it might be ugly. You are also very likely to be accused of lying and hiding something. Nearly everyone who takes a polygraph goes through this. The polygrapher does this to see if you will confess to something he or she never would have found out about.
- Know that the polygrapher will LIE to you. Yep. You are supposed to remain truthful, but he or she will lie and say things like “you are having trouble on a question” or “this is not looking good”. Again, just a ruse to make you talk.
- Don’t confess to anything. Even if the polygrapher pretends to sympathize with you, keep your mouth shut. Do not tell them you steal pens from work, go get dirty massages, drive after only 2 or 3 beers, or did some drugs or committed a crime that nobody knows about. If there is no record of it, and your peers do not know or won’t snitch during your background check, then IT NEVER HAPPENED. Don’t give polygraphers disqualifying admissions. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. The polygrapher will even try to tell you that he or she did some bad things before and it is ok to confess to them. Don’t fall for this! Tell the polygrapher nothing and stick to your guns!
- Do not sign any papers that say you are admitting to something. That is like signing off on a guilty felony plea.
- If you choose to use countermeasures, use mental countermeasures (MCs).
- Your polygraph will likely consist of two types of questions. The first type, relevant questions. These are questions that are important such as questions about drug use, crime, lying on your application, foreign contacts, finances and income, etc.
- The second set will either be irrelevant or control questions. Irrelevant questions are like everyday questions such as asking your name, what state you are in, did you have coffee this morning, are the lights on in the room, etc.
- Control questions are random questions that will throw you off because most people will want to lie, but the answer is probably true. Control questions are like lying to a love one (if you told your wife or girlfriend she didn’t look fat), stealing from work (pens count), lying to get out of trouble, called in sick for work when you really weren’t (hangovers do not count as sick leave), and the like.
- Use MCs on the control questions only, not the irrelevant or relevant questions.
- Relax. Understand that polygraphers and the stupid polygraph machine cannot read your mind. It is just an interrogation. You now know what to expect, so keep cool and don’t tell them anything. If they threaten that you won’t get the job because you are not talking, just say “ok, I will move on with my life because I have nothing to tell you.”
Here is a blog post that I made an will continue to update. This is a list of U.S. federal employees, mostly intelligence community and law enforcement including federal agents, who all passed polygraphs while concealing criminal activity. This should be more proof that the polygraph does not really work, and anyone can beat it.
For more information, contact me using the link in the toolbar and we can discuss further.