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Watch the video for general information on the CBP polygraph examination and see three agents and officers share their experience about the process.

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This video is intended to provide general information of what to expect during a CBP polygraph and to help applicants prepare for their polygraph examination in advance. It also serves as a good reminder of the importance of being forthcoming during the polygraph and the other phases of the CBP hiring process. Polygraph Exam Frequently Asked Questions. You will receive written reporting instructions prior to your assigned testing date. Please read and follow them in their entirety. Please plan to be available and free of any scheduling conflicts the entire day as there is no way to predict how long your examination may take.

Try to get plenty of rest the night before your scheduled polygraph examination and please do not work a midnight shift prior to the morning of your examination. You will be provided intermittent breaks during the examination, but there will not be a full lunch break. Please continue to take any prescribed medications as scheduled. Dress in neat business attire. Please keep in mind you will be in a professional office setting. Do not bring weapons or recording devices of any kind to the examination. Leave your cell phone in your vehicle, if possible. Otherwise, please notify your examiner of it being in your possession and ensure it is powered completely off during the examination.

If any issue s would preclude you from being tested on the day of your examination, please contact the examiner via email to re-schedule your examination as soon as possible.

It is recommended that you do not seek or necessarily trust information about the polygraph found on the internet, chat rooms, social media, YouTube or other non-official sources unless sanctioned or provided by CBP as those sources often provide inaccurate information which could be detrimental to your success. Please ask your examiner if you have any questions or concerns.

Your Polygraph Examiner will explain the examination process to you and the two of you will discuss all of the questions you will be asked prior to taking the examination. You will also have opportunities to ask questions or clarify your answers prior to the examination. The most important thing to remember about taking a polygraph examination is to follow instructions and to be forthcoming when asked to provide information.

Your examiner will be there to guide you through the process. Many people before you have been successful in their examinations and you can be successful as well. Most applicants are nervous prior to taking their polygraph. Please know that nervousness is normal and taken into account when reviewing your exam results. Nervousness will not affect the outcome of the exam. Yes, the standard protocol is to audio record every CBP polygraph examination in its entirety. You will be administered a standardized polygraph examination that will include pre-employment screening questions regarding your suitability for employment with CBP and national security issues.


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All questions will be thoroughly explained and reviewed with you prior to the actual examination. You will be given an opportunity to discuss any concerns or issues you may have with any question s prior to the actual examination.

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While the length of polygraph examinations vary, the average CBP polygraph examination time is approximately four 4 hours. Short breaks are provided throughout the exam. Very little time is actually spent collecting data via the polygraph equipment; typically, this involves intermittent periods of 10 to 15 minutes at a time when polygraph components are attached and applicants answer questions while their physiology is recorded in response the examination questions.

Each applicant is different and has a unique background and life experience which can affect the time needed to complete the examination.


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  6. In some instances, additional days are needed to complete your examination. Polygraph examination results are not deemed final until a Quality Control review has been completed. CBP Polygraph Examiners work hard to provide each applicant with a fair and accurate examination; however, applicants must be forthcoming and cooperative in order to successfully complete the polygraph examination.

    Quality Control QC consists of a team of experienced senior level federal polygraph examiners. Under Federal polygraph policies and procedures, polygraph examination results are submitted to the polygraph Quality Control team within the polygraph program for a final review and determination for the exam result. Otherwise, you may be contacted for additional testing. Follow your usual routine as accurately as possible. Even if your routine includes activities that affect your heart rate, like drinking caffeinated coffee or going for a morning run, you should follow your routine since your body has trained itself to run on those physiological conditions.

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    Try to get seven or eight hours of sleep the night before the test. Make sure that you are not hungry and that you have loose, comfortable clothes on. Complete any forms given to you. Depending on the reason for the polygraph, you might have security clearance forms to fill out or forms requiring your authorization. Take your time on these forms. Read through them carefully and sign your name only when ready. Tell the examiner about any conditions or medications you take.

    If you are currently ill, the examiner may want you to reschedule the test. Certain drugs, like blood pressure medication, can also affect the results, so you should let the examiner know about those, as well. Illness can make you feel uncomfortable, thereby skewing the results. If you take prescription medications, you should continue taking them as prescribed by your doctor before the test. Contrary to popular belief, most anti-depressant medications cannot alter a polygraph and allow you to "beat" it. You should still tell your examiner about these medications, if applicable, since they can produce abnormal results.

    Review the questions and take your time understanding them. The polygraph examiner is required to tell you the questions ahead of time. Take all the time you need reviewing them, and feel free to ask the examiner for clarification about uncertain or confusing questions. You must ask for clarification about questions before the test. In most cases, you will not be permitted to do so during the test. Find out which test form will be used. A control question is one that nearly everyone will need to reply "yes" to, even though many people will be tempted to reply "no.

    In doing so, the examiner can gauge your physiological responses to lying by reviewing the questions he or she knew you lied on. For a GKT, you will be asked multiple choice questions about various facts that only you and the examiner would know. Many of these questions will be about the case. Your verbal responses will be compared to your physiological responses.

    Let yourself be nervous. Nowadays, no one is expected to remain perfectly calm during a polygraph test, even if the person in question is perfectly innocent and has nothing to hide. By allowing yourself to be nervous, you can provide the polygraph examiner with an accurate representation of your physiological statistics when you are being truthful and when you are lying. The lines on the polygraph screen will never be flat and smooth, even if you are telling the truth. Oddly enough, only the person who is nervous about every answer will appear the most truthful on a polygraph test.

    Speak truthfully. If you have nothing to hide or be ashamed of, then tell the truth to each question you are asked. This includes control questions, for which many people are expected to lie. The more often you tell the truth, the more accurate the results will be. This is a good thing, as long as you are innocent. While people often believe that there will be "trick" questions designed to trap them into a guilty answer, the current state of ethics surrounding the administration of polygraph exams demands that the questions remain straightforward.

    No surprise questions will be asked, either. Listen to the entire question thoroughly and answer it precisely. Do not listen to only half the question or answer the question according to what you think it asked rather than what it actually asked. Take your time. You can ask the examiner to repeat a question two to six times, depending on who is examining you. Make sure that you find out how often you can ask for a question to be repeated before the test begins. Do not rush through the questions, since this sense of haste can skew the results against you.

    Questioning usually takes five to ten minutes, but it may take longer depending on how often you ask to have the questions repeated, how long you take to answer the questions, and the nature or reasoning behind the test. Stress yourself out when answering control questions.

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    If you feel the need to cheat or manipulate the test, one thing that most people recommend is to cause yourself mental or physical stress when you are expected to give the answer to a control question. This will give you a higher baseline, so when you tell lies relevant to the case or situation, any spikes in your responses might be smaller than the spike you just created during the control. Think of a frightening or exciting thought when you recognize an obvious control question.

    You can also make your heart rate and perspiration increase by trying to solve a somewhat difficult math problem in your head.

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    Try dividing by 42, or some other similar problem. Calm down when answering relevant questions. When asked a question relevant to the case or situation, put yourself in a calm state of mind when you answer. By staying as calm as possible, you can prevent many major spikes in your physiological responses. As long as your physiological response to a question and answer produces a less noticeable reaction than any reaction you displayed while answering the control questions, it will probably not count against you.

    Maintain your breathing pattern and keep in mind that the polygraph is not infallible, and that you are in control of your own physiological response. Daydream about something soothing, [5] like cuddling under a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate on a cool night, or taking a relaxing shower or bath. Avoid tricks that are easy to catch. If the examiner catches you trying to cheat the test, you might be asked to schedule another test or the examiner may take countermeasures against further acts of manipulation.

    Moreover, attempts to manipulate the test might cause the examiner or reviewer to judge your results more harshly once you finish.