How Do Polygraphs Services Work? – A Guide to Hiring Professionals
Are you a business owner in need of polygraph services? If your company experienced a workplace theft and needs to find the culprit, a polygraph can help. There are plenty of uses for lie detector tests in the private and public sectors. The polygraph forms a line of defense between companies and bad hires that could damage the organization.
Provided you’re working within the boundaries of The Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988, you can implement a lie detector test at your company.
Most public sector organizations involved with law enforcement and national security require employees and candidates to take a polygraph test. These institutions, like the CIA, NSA, and Border Patrol, deal with classified information, state secrets, and other data that can’t afford to find its way into the wrong hands.
A lie detector test bolsters hiring practices in these agencies, preventing the hiring bad actors. The private sector mostly outlaws the use of polygraphs, but they do apply in specific circumstances. If your company manufactures pharmaceuticals, deals in security or protection, or handles high-value asset transfers, you can implement polygraph policies in pre-employment screening and on the job.
Similarly, suppose you operate a company outside of these industries. In that case, you can use polygraphs if you have a theft causing economic loss to the company or in cases of sexual harassment. The lie detector test can help you root out the bad employees at your company, making your organization safer for the rest of your staff.
So, how do you find the right polygraph company to help you implement a lie detector test? There are several organizations offering polygraph services to the public and private sectors. Understanding the procedure involved with hiring a polygraph specialist and how polygraph policies work is crucial to the proper use of this technology in the workplace.
Hiring the wrong polygraph specialist could make you liable to huge fines, sinking your company financially. This post unpacks everything you need to know about hiring the right polygraph professional for your private or public sector business.
What to Look for when Hiring a Polygraph Examiner?
There are dozens of polygraph service providers in each state. Each of these services complies with the procedures and ethical code surrounding the implementation of polygraph exams in the workplace. However, each of them offers a very different experience.
One company might have a more stern and fearful approach to executing a polygraph exam, while others might focus more on making their clients feel comfortable. Understanding what the company offers, the examiners they have on their roster, and how they execute polygraph exams are important to your employee experience with the lie detector test.
Here are the basic essentials you need to look for in a qualified, experienced, and professional polygraph service provider.
What Are the Requirements for Becoming a Polygraph Examiner?
Polygraph examiners need to meet specific criteria to qualify as certified practitioners. They’ll need to start by earning a bachelor’s degree. While it’s not really important which field they have a BA or BSc in, choosing a degree in psychology, criminology, or other related fields is a good way to get focused training they can use in their career.
Some individuals with specialized training, such as law enforcement officials, can become polygraph examiners without the requirement of a university degree to enter the field. Federal or state licensing is also a requisite for becoming a polygraph examiner.
The American Polygraph Association hosts a list of accredited polygraph examiner training programs, offering candidates a minimum of 400 hours of examiner training and instruction, usually held over 10 to 17 weeks.
These programs offer courses in instrumentation, psychophysiology, exam question formulation, chart analysis, and interviewing techniques. Polygraph examiners need advanced written and verbal communication, analytical and interpersonal skills, and a high level of personal integrity and professionalism.
Who Employs Polygraph Examiners?
In 2019, the American Polygraph Association had over 2,800 members. The APA lists job openings on its website, and some of the listings for employment opportunities include the need for polygraph specialists in law enforcement, government, sex offender programs, and immigration control.
Government contractors and private companies also use polygraph examiners to assist with the background check process for new hires to these organizations.
Polygraph Examiner Licensing
States and local jurisdictions have laws requiring certification and licensure of polygraph examiners. These laws require the examiner to have formal instruction and an internship period alongside the successful completion of their polygraph licensing examination.
As an example, here are the basic requirements for state licensure.
- The examiner must establish they have good moral character.
- The examiner must pass an examination under the supervision of the Licensing Committee to determine their competency.
- The examiner must have an academic degree from an accredited university at the minimum of the baccalaureate level.
- The examiner must complete six months of study in deception detection.
Examiner Ethical Code
The prospective polygraph service you’re looking at hiring must abide by a code of ethics. It’s easy for examiners and employers to abuse the polygraph exam process to force people out of their job without the employee doing anything wrong. Abuse of polygraph processes is illegal and can open the employer to liability for huge fines.
The Ethical Code of the American Polygraph Association (APA) ensures the following in the integrity of its members.
- To maintain the highest standards of ethical, moral, and professional conduct by assuming the responsibility for behavior and conduct to serve the cause of justice and truth.
- Respect the dignity of employees and persons by being fair, just, and impartial when discharging professional objectives and duties.
- Examiners must protect themselves from influences intended to benefit personal, political, or financial gain when exercising their professional responsibility.
Quick Check List for Hiring a Polygraph Examiner
Ensure your preferred polygraph company meets the following requirements as an industry professional you can trust to deliver for your organization and your team.
Ask the Examiner for Their Qualifications
When considering a prospective firm for your polygraph partner, ask them for their credentials. The company’s examiners must undergo training administered and accredited by the American Polygraph Association.
The APA ensures that the polygraph examiners that go through its training meet its code of ethics and have the correct qualifications and experience required to conduct polygraph exams effectively and ethically.
Examine the Affiliation Credentials
Ensure that the organization has the correct credentials and memberships to the APA and affiliated organizations. Some companies might use clever wordplay in their website copy to appear to have these accreditations, misrepresenting their affiliation.
If examiners state they’re APA accredited but don’t refer to membership status, they may have accreditation from other recognized training institutions. However, they might not have applied for APA membership or to any recognized professional institutions, meaning they don’t adhere to the required standards of best practice, undergo annual mandatory training or adhere to the regulations of these organizations or institutions.
It’s also common for some polygraph companies to claim they only use examiners from a specific organization or “APA accredited” institution. This wordplay attempts to associate the accredited company with the APA or create an impression that their unrecognized company has credibility.
If not expressly stated that the polygraph company is a member of the American Polygraph Federation, the institution is likely unrecognized. There are instances where unqualified and unaffiliated polygraph examiners have attempted to use or used “training certificates” to provide the impression they are affiliated with the APA or members of the organization.
Always ask your prospective polygraph partner for their APA membership certificate.
What Is the Process for Hiring a Polygraph Firm?
Hiring a polygraph specialist is as easy as contracting the services of any other company. After you’ve identified a worthy service provider, it’s time to reach out to them and book your polygraph service. Follow this quick guide to hiring the right service provider for your organization.
Review the Website or Speak to a Consultant
After identifying three polygraph specialists in your area, use the contact form on their website to inquire about their services. We like using contact forms because they indicate the type of customer service you’ll experience for the company.
If the polygraph service returns your contact form inquiry promptly, they’re hungry for business and value every opportunity to serve their community. It shows a level of customer service that makes it easy to work with the organization, especially when you’re dissatisfied with something or need emergency assistance.
If the company doesn’t have a contact form on its site, that’s okay. Call their number and ask to speak to a consultant about their services. The consultant should ask you for critical information about your business model. They’ll be able to answer your questions about implementing a polygraph policy in your workplace and how to remain compliant with the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988.
Ask About the Testing Protocol
The polygraph consultant will likely run you through a series of qualifying questions to understand your business’s nature, hiring practices, and why you need a polygraph service. They’ll advise you on all aspects of implementing lie detector tests in the workplace.
While you have the polygraph professional on the phone, ask them about the testing protocol and what you can expect from hiring their services. The consultant should have all the information to explain the protocol to you and what you need to do to prepare for the polygraph.
They’ll give you a cost-benefit analysis of their services and a quote for hiring them. You can get quotes from two or three services to compare costs and what to expect from hiring each form. Some polygraph services are more expensive than others because they have more experience or a better industry reputation.
Don’t assume the cheapest quote is the best option. Sometimes it’s better to pay a little more for the polygraph specialist if they have a better industry reputation than the others you inquire about.
Make an Appointment
After you’re satisfied with your choice, call the company and ask for a consultant to visit your business and finalize the service. The polygraph consultant will arrive at your company premises to review your business model and discuss your polygraph requirements.
The consultant will issue you all the paperwork and documents you need to notify your team about the pending polygraph exam. The consultant works with you in informing your team and answering their questions about the lie detector test and what they should expect from the process.
Before The Day of the Polygraph Exam
The examiner should provide the employer with everything they need to know about the exam at least 72 hours before the exam day. The examiner will be available to the employer and the employee 48 hours before the exam day to answer employee-related queries on the exam process and what to expect during the lie detector test.
The polygraph examiner also assists the employer with handling all the paperwork required to legally administer the lie detector test in the workplace. There are several documents the employer needs to serve the employees well in advance of executing the exam. Failing to do so goes against the best practices and guidelines required for compliance with the Employee Polygraph Protection Act.
The examiner will ensure that the employees or candidates understand what they’re getting into before they take the polygraph exam. They assist them with handling the emotional side of the process during the testing process.
Hiring the Right Professionals for the Job
A polygraph policy in the workplace serves the specific function of improving the employee experience for your team. It is not a weapon of intimidation. The employer and the polygraph professionals must understand that polygraphs are there to serve the business and the team and listen to the feedback they receive from their staff regarding their polygraph experience.
Suppose the employees state they didn’t like the experience and felt threatened by it. In that case, it might be time to consider hiring a new polygraph service that adds value to the workplace experience and your team rather than intimidating and devaluing it.