Are you taking a polygraph exam at work? Why would your boss make you do it if you’ve done nothing wrong? You’re an honest, hardworking person with nothing to hide. Well, then you have nothing to worry about, so don’t stress about it.
Despite it being true that you’re trustworthy and honest, you’re still probably feeling nervous about taking the polygraph exam. Relax; there’s nothing to worry about. It’s common for people to feel anxious about doing something where they have no experience in what happens.
Uncertainty is a real problem in these scenarios. When we fear the unknown, it plays around with our minds and creates all sorts of scenarios in our thoughts. However, with the right preparation strategy, you’ll pass the exam without any issues.
This post looks at 10 ways honest people can pass a polygraph test. Are you ready? Let’s dive in!
Why Is My Employer Making Me Take a Polygraph Exam?
First, look at why your employer might be running a polygraph policy at work. Employers can only ask their employees to undergo a polygraph with good reason. The “Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988” (EPPA) is legislation introduced by Ronal Reagan in the final months of his term in office.
The Act was signed into power to prevent employers from abusing polygraph policies. It prevents them from dismissing staff they didn’t want to work at their firm and prevents the hiring of candidates they found undesirable. However, there are loopholes in the Act allowing employers to implement a polygraph policy for the right reasons.
For instance, if any other following happened at your work, your boss might decide to polygraph the team.
- A significant economic loss, such as inventory theft.
- Financial fraud.
- Sexual harassment claims.
- Suspected drug use or distribution.
If any of these activities happen at work, your boss might use a polygraph policy to resolve the problem. The polygraph is 97% accurate at assessing when people are acting deceptively. If you have nothing to hide, you’ll pass the polygraph exam without any problems.
Know Your Rights
Despite the EPPA protecting employees right surrounding their employer’s use of polygraph policies, some employers might not follow the rules. In this case, knowing your rights and where you stand is invaluable.
For instance, you have the right to decline your employer’s request to take a polygraph. Let’s say you have an anxiety disorder, and the thought of undergoing a polygraph makes you feel like a panic attack is right around the corner.
In this case, you might not want to take the polygraph because you feel it might harm your mental and physical health. If you decide to dismiss your employer’s polygraph request, they can do nothing about it.
Your boss cannot fire you for your refusal, and they can’t bully you into taking it. If your employer decides to make life difficult around the workplace because you refused to take the polygraph, you have legal recourse against them.
You can hire a labor lawyer and ask them to file a formal complaint with the US Labor Department against your employer for their digression. Your employer must follow the procedure laid out by the EPPA when implementing their polygraph policy.
They’ll need to give you advanced notice of the test, provide you with the questions the examiner asks during the test, and get you to sign paperwork outlining your rights before taking the exam. If they fail to do any of this, they violate the EPPA.
10 Ways Honest Individuals Can Pass a Polygraph Test
Now that you know your rights and you’re still going ahead with the polygraph exam let’s look at strategies to help you get a successful result.
#1 Understand You’ve Done Nothing Wrong
The first thing to realize is that if you have nothing to hide and no involvement in whatever the polygraph is trying to uncover – you have nothing to worry about. The examiner will stick to the script of questions they present to you in your formal meeting and before the test.
They don’t ask you any questions about your personal life or opinions. Doing so would violate the EPPA, and they’ll get in deep trouble. So, don’t worry about them discovering you have a secret obsession with dressing up in cosplay with your partner. They aren’t interested.
#2 Research the Polygraph Exam
What do you know about the procedures involving the polygraph exam? Probably very little, right? That’s common; most people only investigate stuff once they have to face it in their lives. Don’t wait until you get to the exam room to ask questions about the test; start researching it immediately.
It’s fine if you look into the polygraph exam; there’s nothing wrong with that. The examiner expects you to do so, and they prefer it if you do. By reviewing online content about the polygraph and how it works, you give your mind the information it needs to overcome the fear of venturing into the unknown.
When this anxiety subsides, your brain and nervous system don’t go into overdrive before the test. There’s less chance of the sympathetic nervous system activating the fight-or-flight response during the test, creating a false positive to the examiner’s questions.
#3 Ask the Examiner Questions
The examiner is not an authority figure; they have no power over your autonomy before or during the exam. They can’t ask you to do anything you don’t want to do. So, if you feel like leaving the exam room at any stage during the test, they must let you go.
However, it’s the examiner’s duty to make you feel at ease before they start the polygraph exam. You can ask them any questions you thought up during your research and tell them if you’re feeling nervous before the test.
The examiner must answer all your questions satisfactorily, and they’ll sit with you for as long as it takes until you’re ready to take the exam.
#4 Stick to Your Routine
Don’t do anything outside your normal behavior the day before the exam. We’re all creatures of habit, and we live a routine that keeps us in check., Venturing outside of that routine has an effect on the nervous system. As a result, you’re more likely to prime the fight-or-flight response and create a false positive on the test.
Go home and go about your normal afternoon or evening routine the day before the test. On the morning of your exam, stick to what you normally do before you go to work. If you eat breakfast, get something in your stomach and have a cup of coffee if that’s part of your morning.
However, don’t overdo the coffee. It contains caffeine and stimulant. Drinking too much because you feel tired will over-stimulate you, and you’ll find yourself feeling more anxious and jittery than you need to be. Stay away from energy drinks as well.
#5 Eat Well & Stay Hydrated
You might find that the nerves associated with the pending polygraph exam make you feel less hungry than usual. Don’t give in to the temptation to skip a meal. When we don’t eat to our regular schedule, the body goes into survival mode. It assumes you must not be eating because you’re under stress, and there might not be another meal coming after that.
As a result, it primes the fight-or-flight response. This primal instinct keeps us more aware of our surroundings because it’s looking for food. As a result, there’s more of a chance that the examiner’s questions might activate the fight-or-flight mode during the exam because it’s already on edge. Ensure you get enough to drink and load up on the water. The same primal response occurs when we feel dehydrated.
#6 Get a Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep is vital to ensure we’re resetting the brain. During the day, we build up adenosine and other waste products in neural pathways. That’s why you usually feel tired at night after a big day. However, the stress of the pending polygraph might ramp up your nervous system, and you’ll find it hard to get to sleep.
If that’s the case, log onto YouTube and search for free guided meditations. Listen to it in bed with headphones on and try and slow your thinking. The breathwork in guided meditations effectively calms the body and mind, helping you fall asleep.
#7 Don’t Use Sleeping Medication or Supplements
The guided meditation works, so use it. Whatever you do, don’t resort to using sleep medication or supplements before you go to bed. If you’re not used to taking these medications, they’ll make you sleepy in the morning.
As a result, you’ll probably compensate for your tired state with more coffee, and we’ve already discussed why that’s a bad idea. Avoid using “Z-drugs” like Ambien and supplements like melatonin. The guided meditation works, so use it.
#8 Meditate and Breathe
We’ve already discussed the importance of using meditation and breathing the night before the exam. It helps you sleep because it takes your mind off the stress of taking the polygraph exam. However, it’s also beneficial on exam day.
45 to 30 minutes before you’re scheduled to enter the exam room, run through the guided meditation you listened to the night before.
You’ll find that it helps to remove the feeling of butterflies in your stomach and any residual nervousness you feel before taking the test. You’ll walk into the exam room feeling calm and in control of your emotions.
#9 Don’t Research Countermeasures
While researching the polygraph in the days before your test, you’ll probably come across posts regarding “countermeasures.” Guilty people use countermeasures to try and beat the lie detector test and the examiner.
However, they come from an era before polygraph science moved to software technology. As a result, most of them no longer work. The examiner has extensive training in the use of countermeasures, and they know how to identify if an examinee is using them.
If they catch you using countermeasures, they’ll fail you immediately. Even the act of reading up about countermeasures is enough to get you to fail the exam, so leave them alone.
#10 Don’t Use Anti-Anxiety Medication
Don’t use Xanax or beta-blockers before your exam if you don’t have a prescription for them. These drugs are another common countermeasure guilty people use during a polygraph exam. They suppress the fight-or-flight response when they have to lie.
However, Examiners can tell if a person is drugged by the responses created in the polygraph software. If they detect you using these drugs, they’ll ask you why you did it, and there’s a high probability you’ll fail the exam for using countermeasures in the test.
If you have a genuine anxiety disorder and use medication, tell the examiner before the test. They’ll adjust their questioning to ensure your medication use doesn’t trigger a false positive in the test results.
How to Handle Yourself Post-Exam
After you finish the exam, the examiner disconnects you from the polygraph machine and thanks you for your time. They’ll escort you out of the exam room, and you can take a short break to clear your head. It’s important to note that your employer is not obligated to let you take the rest of the day off; after all, they’re running a business, and you might play a key role in its operations.
However, most employers will let you take a break to gather before you return to the office. Go outside and get some fresh air. If you’re feeling anxious, take a few deep breaths. If that doesn’t work, call a friend and talk out your emotions to them.
You’ll receive your results two or three days after taking the exam. Your boss can’t disclose them to anyone else but you. So, you won’t know who the culprit is that committed the fraud or stole the inventory from the company. However, you can bet your boss is putting things in place to remove them from the company within the legal parameters of the EPPA.