In real life a proper polygraph exam is NOT like it is usually portrayed in movies or television programs.
It does NOT take a few minutes or seconds and one cannot just begin by asking whatever questions one feels like asking! A polygraph exam, when done properly by a trained and qualified polygraph examiner, will take AT LEAST around an hour (or much longer in certain cases) to complete and will always follow these steps:
- Explanations are provided by the polygraph examiner to the person being tested to ensure that he/she knows and fully understands what is about to be done, and why;
- Paperwork is completed, for example a consent/indemnity form, ensuring that the polygraph exam is done completely voluntarily and that the person to be tested is fully aware of his/her rights (e.g. the right to refuse, the right to stop, the right to consult with an attorney or anyone else, the right to an interpreter if needed etc.);
- A verbal interview takes place in a non-accusatory, cool and calm manner, during which the case is discussed before testing takes place. The person to be tested is given a fair and reasonable opportunity to state his/her case and/or to provide his/her explanations BEFORE being tested.
- Test questions are formulated and reviewed by the polygraph examiner with the person to be tested to ensure that she/she fully understands the scope and meaning of each question. Note that there are certain rules applicable to test questions which determine how many questions can be asked and in what manner. The polygraph examiner is specifically trained in formulating appropriate test questions and will not accept questions drawn up by someone else. The polygraph examiner will draw up the questions based on the relevant background information provided by the Client beforehand.
- Testing takes place: the polygraph instrument is attached to the person and the test is repeated two or three times, using the exact same questions, as previously reviewed. No surprise questions are asked. The test is done in a cool and calm manner, slowly, clearly and carefully.
- Analysis/interpretation of the polygraph test charts/graphs takes place and a follow-up interview is possibly held, if necessary. This step often takes place at a later stage, i.e. after the polygraph exam (after the tested person had left). This process can be done subjectively (manual human scoring) or objectively (computer scoring). We use two separate computer scoring systems to ensure the highest possible level of accuracy and impartiality.
- The meeting ends with the person having been tested again signing a document certifying that he/she was well-treated etc.
- A typed report is sent to the client, usually by email, stating the professional opinion of the polygraph examiner. Once the report has been issued the involvement of the polygraph examiner in the client’s case stops and no further assistance is provided (unless the polygraph examiner must testify as an expert witness in the matter).