For many who are applying for a job in law enforcement or with certain government agencies, a required final step in the pre-employment screening process will be to pass a polygraph examination. These employers do this a final measure to make sure that all information on an application is correct, and to put you to the test at handing yourself under pressure and in an interrogation situation.

Anyone who is getting a lie detector test will feel some anxiety about what to expect and how the test will work. That’s why if you have decided to pursue a job with one of these organizations, it’s best to fully understand how a polygraph works and what kind of questions they will be asking you.


The Polygraph

The polygraph is not some magic device that can automatically tell whether or not you have told a lie. In fact all that it does is give a detailed reading about your body while you are answering questions. As How Stuff Works explains, the polygraph can be broken down into three stages: pre-test, in-test, and post-test. All polygraph examinations will begin with an interview between the polygrapher and the examinee.

The polygrapher will ask you questions about your life, looking for basic facts about you, and then discuss the topic at hand—most likely, the job that you are applying for and the specifics of the information that you have already provided. Then, the polygrapher designs around 10 yes or no questions to ask you while you have the polygraph’s sensors attached to your body.


The Questions

Ehow has noted that anyone applying to be a police officer can expect certain questions, usually about your own history with the law. Have you used any illegal narcotics in the past five years? Have you ever taken part in a serious crime? Are just two examples of common questions that will come up on a police polygraph, and many other employers would most likely do the same. These would be the “relevant” questions, or the ones where your employer wants to gauge how truthful you are being.

The polygrapher will also ask you “control” questions such as is your name really Bob? Do you live in this city? Asking these questions gives the polygrapher a base to study your physiological responses to telling the truth and answering simply versus a question where you might be anxious and fabricating your response.

No matter what questions you face when you go for your polygraph exam, experts agree that the best way to get through it without any issue is to stay clam, and tell the truth.