First and foremost – Your mom was right.

Honesty is always the best policy. That said, understand that the Preliminary Background Questionnaire is designed to eliminate candidates early in the process before they spend time and money on those who would not make it. Yes, candidates should live their lives as if their future of being a firefighter depends upon it – because it does. And, some departments include a polygraph test as part of the process in the background packet.

Now, folks are panicked. They call me to say the background packet and or the investigator said a polygraph test would be given. This is the department’s way of verifying information. I ask if it was listed on the job announcement that there was going to be a polygraph test?

Regardless of a yes or no answer, I tell them my experience.

Here is the story. If disclosed in the job’s announcement, a polygraph can be part of the process. It would help if you were prepared.  If not revealed in the job’s announcement, a polygraph test will not be part of the process. It’s not uncommon for a background investigator or psychologist to ask if a candidate will submit to a polygraph to verify answers. Taking this further, if a department tests one candidate, they must test all candidates. This amount of testing would be difficult.

As of today, I’m not aware of any test where the candidates were held hostage by the threat of a polygraph when not included with the job’s announcement. Not one.  As a matter of fact, I know candidates who were turned down, and they requested a polygraph to prove they were telling the truth. Of course, they couldn’t get one because the department would have to give it to everyone.

Pinocchio, why is your nose getting longer?

Here is the moral of the story: Make sure you read the fine print. Understand what you are filling out and signing. Honesty is always the best policy. You can thank your mom for that!