Failed Poly. Should I petition the result?

I took an FBI polygraph last month and recently received an update that my results “ were not within acceptable parameters”. I told the truth throughout the entire process yet still failed. Within the letter it said that I can request reconsideration of my polygraph results by submitting a letter to my processing field office and include any compelling factors that should be considered when reevaluating. I do want to note that the person who performed my test was not in the best mood and had a very condescending and demeaning attitude. The entire pre-screening felt rushed and I felt like throughout my explanation of certain questions he’d try to rush me into a straight forward respond which kind of set me off since I was only going into details for certain questions to ensure my response is accurate for what the question was asking. I strongly believe this is the reason for my failure. It also felt like he did not properly review my file as when certain things were mention he seemed to be unaware of what I was talking about. I’m strongly convinced this is the reason for my failure. When I got asked the question about my tardiness tendency, I responded to him I always show up to work on time and I’ve probably only been late a few times during a year. When I got hooked up to the test he asks me if I lied when I said I’ve only been late to work once. That was something I never said during the pre examination and I was immediately confused. My next concern was during the serious crimes question, in the pre examination I mentioned how I accidentally shoplifted from Walmart once (took a box of chips without paying because I left it in the under compartment of the shopping cart and forgot it was there and felt too embarrassed to go back and explain to the employees). He rushed passed what I was trying to explain and said he doesn’t care about accidents but this still remain in my mind because even though it was an accident I still shoplifted because I had the ability and decision to go back but I didn’t. After the examination I mentioned this to him and he immediately says that I did not mention this and told me that it was not in my file. When I told him yes it is and that I tried he immediately goes to look in my file and starts questioning me on if I was telling the truth before he found it. He then typed up a whole letter explaining this situation and said it would be added. However I felt like he did this to save himself from any potential consequences.Should I request a petition of my results and perhaps attempt to get a retest or would it be a waste of time?

Assuming that you answered the relevant questions truthfully, I think you should write a letter contesting the polygraph results. Your letter should be added to your applicant file and will document the fact that you don’t (through your silence) tacitly concur with the polygraph operator’s opinion that you lied.

I don’t suggest asking for a “re-test” or agreeing to one if offered. The result would very likely be the same: as a policy matter, the FBI polygraph unit cannot afford to reverse more than a handful of “test” results. To do otherwise would make it appear that polygraphy is unreliable (which happens to be true). I think it’s better to have just one failed polygraph on your record and not two.

Also, if you were to be granted a “re-test,” you would be at increased risk of being accused of having attempted polygraph countermeasures. Polygraph operators cannot actually detect countermeasures, but that doesn’t stop them from making accusations, especially when a subject has had time and motivation to educate himself about polygraphy.

Having a countermeasure accusation on your permanent FBI record would be more damaging to your career prospects with other federal agencies than simply having a failed polygraph. (As for the FBI, you are now blacklisted for life from FBI employment.)

One more thing I neglected to mention: the question about workplace tardiness was a probable-lie “control” question. Such questions are intentionally vague and are intended to induce a physiological response even in truthful applicants. Examples of other probable-lie control questions include “Did you ever lie to get out of (serious) trouble?” and “Did you ever take anything that did not belong to you?”

It’s seldom used nowadays, but on my FBI polygraph, one of the probable-lie “control” questions was about whether I had ever driven while under the influence of alcohol. I honestly had not, and I felt completely at ease answering that question. Ironically, my lack of anxiety about that may well have contributed to my not passing.

Reactions to “control” questions are compared with reactions to relevant questions (such as those about major undetected crimes or unauthorized disclosure of classified information). If the former are greater, you pass, and if the latter are greater, you fail.