There are many times that a client has asked me about my qualifications as a polygraph examiner. A very reasonable question you may think and frankly, so do I.
I can detail the fact that I was trained at one of the leading American Polygraph Association academies. That I have certificates issued by both the academy which was founded by a man considered to be one of the pioneers in lie detection, Cleve Backster (Backster School of Lie Detection) and the world renowned American Polygraph Association and that I was mentored after my initial training for years by some of the most famous examiners and APA approved trainers in Europe, conducting tests for months under their guidance a supervision.
I can also tell them of my extensive experience of interviewing people of all walks of life in every situation from infidelity examinations to murder suspects. The training I received in the police service, where every “client” had good reason to be deceptive to avoid the hardest thing to sell anyone, a prison sentence!
Or perhaps my 20 plus years using my skills as a defence advocate, gaining accreditation by the Legal Services Commission and the annual continual professional development courses I have attended to maintain my qualification an up to date knowledge of the law. So, what is the point of this blog? Is it to “blow my own trumpet”, absolutely not. The point I am trying to make is far more important than that.
Qualifying as a polygraph examiner requires a person to attend a training academy approved by the American Polygraph Association. This initial course aims to give the student the very basic skills required to become a polygraph examiner. Students will learn how to formulate the right kind of questions for a successful test and how to navigate the polygraph equipment they use in the process. In no way does that course alone qualify anyone to work on their own without support and
conduct accurate procedures.
Mentoring and real experience of conducting a range of test procedures with expert guidance is the only way to commence a polygraph examiners career.
Having transferable skills, such as interview technique and interpersonal skills, are vitally important in achieving an accurate outcome in any polygraph test.
That is why a great number of polygraph examiners are from a police background. There previous careers have supplied them with regular and intense training in interviewing, obtaining information and dealing with the most deceptive of clients.
I am a supporter of continual professional development and accept that it is not a prerequisite that a polygraph examiner comes from a police background but it does concern me that so many examiners here in the UK have little or no experience of any of these skills and so often take the examinees word as gospel.
The purpose of this blog is to encourage every polygraph examiner to look at their skill base, assess its strengths and be honest about their weaknesses. Addressing any areas that need improving, by attending more than the annual general meeting of the association, be that in the UK or America. It should be viewed as a privilege to be invited into a clients life to resolve a problem and that should be taken seriously.
Ask yourself, would you like to be examined by someone who has a certificate for a basic course, attended a few AGM’s but other than that relies on their past careers as a tax inspector or cruise line singer, to make judgements on you?