Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) "Ask a Polygraph Operator!" (Read 15532 times)
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #15 - Dec 31st, 2014 at 1:29pm
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The short answer is *both*.

The examinee's demeanor usually changes under mental exertion, and the charts look, well, flaky. That is to say the tracings do not resemble those of normal reactions.

I am the first to admit that a polygraph "test" is a crapshoot, but so is the application of countermeasures.

If you have already taken two polygraphs, there are two blueprints of your physiological reactions (presumably without CMs). The sudden appearance of previously unseen "noise" on any subsequent charts will certainly be a big red flag.
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #16 - Oct 8th, 2015 at 3:04pm
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I have some questions about how examiners prepare for an examination, and how they decide what  "strategy" to use on a particular examinee.

I went thru a counter-intelligence poly with a 3-letter government agency on Monday.   I have had a  TS/SCI clearance for years and am probably as "clean" as they come.  I was relaxed going in, and  didn't anticipate any problems.     The examiner was presumably a DACA-certified individual.

However, sitting with the examiner during the pre-screen interview, he was abrupt and rude.  He didn't  let me fully answer questions like "so tell me about your job" and "tell me about your wife and kids", he  would scribble something on his notepad and interrupt me with his next question, as if he was in a hurry.   I started to get a little frustrated, and I am certain that my agitation was noted by the examiner.

He asked some more questions, and then stopped and blind-sided me with the comment "I don't think  you are taking this polygraph very seriously".    WTF?   At this point, I was no longer relaxed.   I  suspected some theater was involved, but I was still taken aback.  Despite my efforts to try to remind  myself "this guy is just jerking with me",  I became defensive and tense.

We proceeded with hooking me up to the machine and ran thru some test questions.  The examiner  was very disruptive,  continuously interrupting the process with comments like "you're breathing too  fast", or "you're breathing too slow" and incessantly saying "if you don't follow my instructions, we'll  never get this finished today".    I became ultra self-aware of my breathing and posture, to the point  where the harder I tried to breathe naturally and sit still, the more difficult it became.    By the time the  test began, I was pretty much a nervous fidgety wreck.   Eventually, he asked me to stop speaking  altogether, and answer my questions only by moving my eyes.

The testing proceeded badly.  After about 90 minutes, he stood up from his terminal, and got in my face  -- "Are you intentionally not following my instructions?", he said.   I tried to explain that I was sitting as  still as I could and breathing as naturally as possible, under the circumstances.  I explained that he had  caused me to be nervous when he said, before testing even began, that he felt I was not serious about  the polygraph.  His response was "You weren't serious about the polygraph then, and I'm not sure you  are even now, because you aren't following my instructions".

At this point, I become mentally disengaged - I was no longer interested in passing the polygraph, nor  was I concentrating on answering the questions, only on counting the minutes when this exam would be  over and I could escape from this jerk.   

The testing went another 90 minutes (3 hours total).  He left the room for awhile, then came back to  inform me that my test was "useless", they couldn't use any of it!   I was not surprised at all.   I was told  to come back for a re-test the next morning, which I had with a pleasant lady who did not badger me,  and I passed (as I knew I would).

So, my questions are:

1.  How much of this was "theater" and how much was genuine antagonism by the examiner?   I had  expected some "tough guy" stuff, but by the end I felt bullied and harrassed.  I had voluntarily submitted  myself to undergo the polygraph, in good faith that I would be given a fair, impartial examination.... but I  left feeling as if the examiner had made it personal, trying to "teach me a lesson" or something 

2.  If this was "theater", how is it beneficial to  put the examinee into a heightened state of anxiety?   It  seems to me that ANY anxiety at all would skew the graphs, as NONE of the physiological responses  would be "natural".    I was so tense, that I imagine that all my responses looked exactly the same on his  graphs (which was probably making him angrier by the minute).

3.  If this was "theater", how did he determine which tactics to use on me?   Was there something in my  profile that suggested that they would get better results by making me uncomfortable?  Or was it a  spur-of-the-moment call, that he made during his pre-test interview with me?   Or was my examiner  simply incompetent (which I now suspect)?   

4. Does an examiner get "dinged" for not being able to get good graphs?  Because my examiner sure seemed pissed off that he wasn't getting good graphs from me.

5. Finally -- can an examinee request a new examiner before the testing begins?   In hindsight, I feel like  I should've stopped and requested a new examiner, at that moment in the beginning when he accused  me of not taking polygraphs seriously.    His comments showed that he had already formed an opinion  of me, which I believe poisoned the entire exam process.
« Last Edit: Oct 8th, 2015 at 3:20pm by guitarman »  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #17 - Oct 8th, 2015 at 7:02pm
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Your post sounds quite credible, as I have personally listened to audio recordings of polygraph exams following formal complaints.  If your description is accurate, it was not theater.  You had a rude examiner.  If this was a 3-letter agency, then he had to be a federal school (NCCA) graduate, as DoD does not hire non-NCCA graduates.  It is also possible that your examiner may have been a DoD contractor, which some of the agencies use.  Some of them are former examiners who have come back to work under federal contract, and brought their bad habits with them.  They get paid per exam, not a salary, and therefore are more concerned with getting the body in the chair then in doing a proper job.

You could have asked for a different examiner for the retest, but you are not guaranteed one.  They choose who is scheduled with you, not you.

Finally, you always have the option of filing an IG complaint with that agency if you feel you were treated unprofessionally.  Agency IGs conduct a comprehensive review, including the audio/video recording.  That's why in part, it is recorded.  The tape never lies.

Did you ask to speak to a supervisor or quality control official after either of the two sessions?  If not, you should have.  They are the ones who can address allegations of misconduct/unethical/unprofessional behavior.  Were you provided a customer survey sheet after the second session?  Some agencies provide one which are designed to elicit feedback about your experience and don't require you to identify yourself, but do identify the name of your examiner.  These surveys are reviewed at the management level.

  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #18 - Oct 8th, 2015 at 7:05pm
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guitarman wrote on Oct 8th, 2015 at 3:04pm:
I have some questions about how examiners prepare for an examination, and how they decide what  "strategy" to use on a particular examinee.

I went thru a counter-intelligence poly with a 3-letter government agency on Monday.   I have had a  TS/SCI clearance for years and am probably as "clean" as they come.  I was relaxed going in, and  didn't anticipate any problems.     The examiner was presumably a DACA-certified individual.

However, sitting with the examiner during the pre-screen interview, he was abrupt and rude.  He didn't  let me fully answer questions like "so tell me about your job" and "tell me about your wife and kids", he  would scribble something on his notepad and interrupt me with his next question, as if he was in a hurry.   I started to get a little frustrated, and I am certain that my agitation was noted by the examiner.

He asked some more questions, and then stopped and blind-sided me with the comment "I don't think  you are taking this polygraph very seriously".    WTF?   At this point, I was no longer relaxed.   I  suspected some theater was involved, but I was still taken aback.  Despite my efforts to try to remind  myself "this guy is just jerking with me",  I became defensive and tense.

We proceeded with hooking me up to the machine and ran thru some test questions.  The examiner  was very disruptive,  continuously interrupting the process with comments like "you're breathing too  fast", or "you're breathing too slow" and incessantly saying "if you don't follow my instructions, we'll  never get this finished today".    I became ultra self-aware of my breathing and posture, to the point  where the harder I tried to breathe naturally and sit still, the more difficult it became.    By the time the  test began, I was pretty much a nervous fidgety wreck.   Eventually, he asked me to stop speaking  altogether, and answer my questions only by moving my eyes.

The testing proceeded badly.  After about 90 minutes, he stood up from his terminal, and got in my face  -- "Are you intentionally not following my instructions?", he said.   I tried to explain that I was sitting as  still as I could and breathing as naturally as possible, under the circumstances.  I explained that he had  caused me to be nervous when he said, before testing even began, that he felt I was not serious about  the polygraph.  His response was "You weren't serious about the polygraph then, and I'm not sure you  are even now, because you aren't following my instructions".

At this point, I become mentally disengaged - I was no longer interested in passing the polygraph, nor  was I concentrating on answering the questions, only on counting the minutes when this exam would be  over and I could escape from this jerk.   

The testing went another 90 minutes (3 hours total).  He left the room for awhile, then came back to  inform me that my test was "useless", they couldn't use any of it!   I was not surprised at all.   I was told  to come back for a re-test the next morning, which I had with a pleasant lady who did not badger me,  and I passed (as I knew I would).

So, my questions are:

1.  How much of this was "theater" and how much was genuine antagonism by the examiner?   I had  expected some "tough guy" stuff, but by the end I felt bullied and harrassed.  I had voluntarily submitted  myself to undergo the polygraph, in good faith that I would be given a fair, impartial examination.... but I  left feeling as if the examiner had made it personal, trying to "teach me a lesson" or something 

2.  If this was "theater", how is it beneficial to  put the examinee into a heightened state of anxiety?   It  seems to me that ANY anxiety at all would skew the graphs, as NONE of the physiological responses  would be "natural".    I was so tense, that I imagine that all my responses looked exactly the same on his  graphs (which was probably making him angrier by the minute).

3.  If this was "theater", how did he determine which tactics to use on me?   Was there something in my  profile that suggested that they would get better results by making me uncomfortable?  Or was it a  spur-of-the-moment call, that he made during his pre-test interview with me?   Or was my examiner  simply incompetent (which I now suspect)?   

4. Does an examiner get "dinged" for not being able to get good graphs?  Because my examiner sure seemed pissed off that he wasn't getting good graphs from me.

5. Finally -- can an examinee request a new examiner before the testing begins?   In hindsight, I feel like  I should've stopped and requested a new examiner, at that moment in the beginning when he accused  me of not taking polygraphs seriously.    His comments showed that he had already formed an opinion  of me, which I believe poisoned the entire exam process.


A lot of your experience sounds indeed very much  like "theatre", and is reminiscent of my experience in Langley several years ago (and it appears as if you are applying to work at a similar "three-letter agency"!).

I was also repeatedly accused of being deceptive, not taking the polygraph seriously, and not even being serious about wanting to work at the Agency.

Between that and a very sloppy BI, I now feel very fortunate that I wasn't employed by the "brave warriors" of Langley.
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #19 - Oct 8th, 2015 at 7:08pm
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quickfix wrote on Oct 8th, 2015 at 7:02pm:
Your post sounds quite credible, as I have personally listened to audio recordings of polygraph exams following formal complaints.  If your description is accurate, it was not theater.  You had a rude examiner.  If this was a 3-letter agency, then he had to be a federal school (NCCA) graduate, as DoD does not hire non-NCCA graduates.  It is also possible that your examiner may have been a DoD contractor, which some of the agencies use.  Some of them are former examiners who have come back to work under federal contract, and brought their bad habits with them.  They get paid per exam, not a salary, and therefore are more concerned with getting the body in the chair then in doing a proper job.

You could have asked for a different examiner for the retest, but you are not guaranteed one.  They choose who is scheduled with you, not you.

Finally, you always have the option of filing an IG complaint with that agency if you feel you were treated unprofessionally.  Agency IGs conduct a comprehensive review, including the audio/video recording.  That's why in part, it is recorded.  The tape never lies.

Did you ask to speak to a supervisor or quality control official after either of the two sessions?  If not, you should have.  They are the ones who can address allegations of misconduct/unethical/unprofessional behavior.  Were you provided a customer survey sheet after the second session?  Some agencies provide one which are designed to elicit feedback about your experience and don't require you to identify yourself, but do identify the name of your examiner.  These surveys are reviewed at the management level.

If we're talking Langley here, I highly doubt  that any type of "appeal" would be successful, or result in a reconsideration of an employment decision. Angry


  

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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #20 - Oct 10th, 2015 at 8:13pm
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Very informative post quickfix. It is good to know that there is some oversight. Honestly, I had believed that the govt polygraphers had free reign and were not questioned.
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #21 - Oct 10th, 2015 at 11:02pm
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quickfix:

I don't think filing an IG complaint with that agency, or speaking to the supervisor and/or filling out a "customer survey sheet" is going to address the problem of unethical federal polygraphers.  It appears this is a case of institutionalized bias within this 3-letter government agency.  Perhaps guitarman's first polygrapher was under pressure to deliver a minimum number of problematic or failed polygraphs.  We know two IC polygraphers (Mark Phillips and Chuck Hinshaw) stated so, and not surprisingly they lost their jobs.  And don't you think it's strange that his second polygrapher easily passed him ("a pleasant lady who did not badger me")?

The only solution (short of eliminating federal polygraphs altogether) is to relocate all current federal polygraphers to an independent agency, with its own performance appraisals and salary reviews.  And since NCCA is supposed to train all federal polygraphs, it would be the logical agency to contain all active federal polygraphers, maybe with field offices scattered across the country.  Has this suggestion already been proposed?  Would you quickfix be willing to relocate from your current federal agency to an independent agency?
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #22 - Oct 11th, 2015 at 3:04am
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Evan S wrote on Oct 10th, 2015 at 11:02pm:
The only solution (short of eliminating federal polygraphs altogether) is to relocate all current federal polygraphers to an independent agency, with its own performance appraisals and salary reviews.


The only civilized option - let's stop using this stupid thing.  Your suggestion is like saying -  "lets only allow bishops and cardinals to burn witches at the stake and not let priests do it anymore".
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #23 - Oct 12th, 2015 at 5:20pm
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quickfix wrote on Oct 8th, 2015 at 7:02pm:
Your post sounds quite credible, as I have personally listened to audio recordings of polygraph exams following formal complaints. 
.............
  Were you provided a customer survey sheet after the second session?  Some agencies provide one which are designed to elicit feedback about your experience and don't require you to identify yourself, but do identify the name of your examiner.  These surveys are reviewed at the management level.


The building I was in, had several posters on the wall from something called the Defense Academy of Credibility Assessment (DACA).   I assumed that was the organization that accredited my examiner?   

I took some time to read this web site's TLBTLD document (the Terrorism/Espionage/Sabotage exam section, in particular), and I was surprised to see that my experience might've been completely scripted from beginning to end, from the initial "we don't think you are taking this polygraph seriously" to the "you will have to come back tomorrow for a re-test".   Just about everything that my first examiner did to me was listed in the TLBTLD booklet!  TLBTLD says that "some agencies" make applicants take up to 3 polys.  Sooooooo....  I guess the answer to my main concern (was I being singled out by a jerk) is that, perhaps he was just following his script.  I wish I had read TLBTLD first!

My boss says I will be getting an email survey, in which I can "rate" my poly.  If that is true, I will make sure I explain that I felt harassed and bullied.  But I haven't gotten the survey yet.



  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #24 - Oct 12th, 2015 at 5:50pm
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guitarman:

IMO, filling out an "email survey" is a complete waste of time.  Also the federal polygraph school is no longer called DACA, it's now NCCA (your polygraph office is not up to date).

And don't you think it's strange that the second polygrapher easily passed you ("a pleasant lady who did not badger me")?  Lack of consistency, not good for a "scientific" test.  (I have already asked quikfix this question, have yet to receive an answer.)
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #25 - Oct 13th, 2015 at 8:42pm
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Evan S wrote on Oct 10th, 2015 at 11:02pm:
Would you quickfix be willing to relocate from your current federal agency to an independent agency?


It is not feasible to do so.  Different agencies perform different types of polygraphs and not all of them are authorized to do preemployment testing.  DIA cannot test NSA or CIA job applicants.  Military services are prohibited from conducting full-scope polygraphs, etc.  You are adding apples and oranges into one basket and calling them pineapples.

Additional comment:  I personally have known Mark Phillips for many years.  He did not "lose" his job.  He sought employment elsewhere after finding NRO's polygraph abuses intolerable.

You shouldn't comment on issues you know nothing about.
  
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Re: "Ask a Polygraph Operator!"
Reply #26 - Oct 13th, 2015 at 9:03pm
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quickfix...thanks for your reply...Evan S

However it is my understanding this idea has been previously floated: an independent federal agency to conduct all federal polygraphs, including preemployment testing, post-employment security screening, specific issue, and others.

My experience with the federal polygraph was post-employment security screening (CSP), in private aerospace.  Currently retired.  So I have some knowledge.
  
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