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Are Polygraph Exams always required for RN positions?

Posted

Specializes in Med-Surg, Psych.

I've been considering correctional nursing. Some of the job listings indicate RNs need to take a polygraph exam. Is that always true? What questions are asked on the exam?

I'm not sure if it's always true, but I'll bet it's true most of the time with these types of positions. Anytime you want to go to work for a governmental agency that involves a lot of public trust, expect to have a polygraph. Law enforcement and corrections fall into that category.

As to the type of questions asked, basically they want to know if they can trust you and you won't embarrass them. Well, I'm sure every employer wants to know that.

As for work history they will likely ask; if you have ever been fired or asked to resign from any position, have you ever stolen from an employer, do you abuse sick leave, have you ever engaged in violence on the job, have you ever gone to work while impaired by drugs or alcohol, ever have sex while at work, ever date a co-worker, ever cover up an on the job incident, ever blame mistakes you make on others, and so on, just testing your work ethic.

On a personal level you may be asked; (Financial) do you pay your bills on time, ever file for bankruptucy, ever write a bad check, your current financial status regarding money owed to creditors, credit card balances, money owed to friends and family, and so on, just trying to assess your financial responsibility. (Driving record) how many traffic tickets, how many accidents even if not reported, license ever suspended, have a license in another state or another country, ever bribe your way out of a traffic ticket, how do you relate to other drivers, ever drive while impaired, etc. (Sexual) How many sex partners in your life, what is your sexual orientation, do you have an STD, your current relationship status, most unusual sexual experience, do you look at porn on the internet, look at pronographic publications, do you use "toys", ever wear clothing of the opposite sex, ever pose for pictures or video while in the nude, have sex outside your marriage or relationship, etc, expect lots of detailed questions since some employers have been embarrassed by the sexual escapades of workers. (Relationship with others) How do you get along with neighbors, family, how do you handle conflict, when was the last time you were in a fistfight, do you do nice things for other people, what qualities do you desire in a friend/lover/coworker/spouse/parent/sibling/..etc. (General) You might be asked when was the last time you fired a gun and why. Ever knowingly caused the death of another person, if so, why. Have you ever stolen anything, ever steal from a store, ever stolen from a friend or family member. (Drugs) Always a biggie, do you use drugs now, have you ever used drugs, when was the last time you used drugs, including marijuana, ever stolen drugs, when was the first time you tried drugs, what led you to try it, ever treated for drug addiction, do your friends or significant other use drugs now or in the past, ever used prescription drugs for another, ever allowed another to use your prescription drugs, ever put illegal drugs into a legal appearing drug container, ever bribed a medical practitioner into prescribing you drugs you should not have been prescribed, ever falsified a drug prescription, and so on.

These questions are typical of polygraph sessions. The detailed questions are asked first before your are hooked up. Once you are hooked up the questions are more broad based, such as; have you withheld information reagarding your employment history, have you withheld information regarding your use of drugs, have you withheld information regarding your driving history, and so forth.

Nobody's perfect, we all have things in our past that we are not proud of, they are not looking for a perfect person. They just want to know where you stand now regarding honesty and reliability. Tell the truth even if it's not pretty. Answer the question succinctly but truthfully and no more.

The session can last anywhere from 1 to 4 hours. Part of the selection process is to see how well you stand up to the grueling and tedious questions without getting angered, and to see what's important to you in your answer, not so much what the answer is. That polygraph is every bit as important as the actual job interview. Be comfortable, anything that stresses you during the session will have an adverse effect on how you react during the actual polygraph. If your shoes are hurting your feet or if you have to use the restroom really bad can cause you to give a false deception response.

Good luck.

(Sexual) How many sex partners in your life, what is your sexual orientation, do you have an STD, your current relationship status, most unusual sexual experience, do you look at porn on the internet, look at pronographic publications, do you use "toys", ever wear clothing of the opposite sex, ever pose for pictures or video while in the nude, have sex outside your marriage or relationship, etc, expect lots of detailed questions since some employers have been embarrassed by the sexual escapades of workers.

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How can they legally even ask you about your personal sexual practices? Isn't sexual orientation something they can't ask by law?

How can they legally even ask you about your personal sexual practices? Isn't sexual orientation something they can't ask by law?

I'm no labor lawyer so I can't give a definitive answer. I suppose it depends on the position you are seeking. I only speak from experience since I have had 4 polygraphs in my life, the last one in 2002. All were for law enforcement positions. The question samples I posted above are only the ones I could think of at the time I posted, there are actually a lot more. I know that as of 2002 they were asking these questions.

I was always perplexed by the question I forgot to mention earlier..."What is the worst thing you have ever done?"

medsurgrnco, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Psych.

I've had a wild past, tho no criminal record. Can't imagine divulging stuff I've done, and then getting hired. But this was years ago, hardly relevant now.

I've had a wild past, tho no criminal record. Can't imagine divulging stuff I've done, and then getting hired. But this was years ago, hardly relevant now.

The people who do the polygraphs are sometimes hired from outside the agency. Even if they are in the same agency you see very little of them since they are off in their own little world. That was the case where I have been employed. The polygraph questions won't end up in your personnel file. In my experience there is little chance you will see the person who did your polygraph again.

medsurgrnco, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Psych.

So what happens to the info divulged during a polygraph exam? I really don't want a written record anywhere of the stuff I've done in the past and figure it's my private business. What polygraph info is divulged to the potential employer?

santhony44, MSN, RN, NP

Specializes in FNP, Peds, Epilepsy, Mgt., Occ. Ed.

I've never had a polygraph. (Never worked corrections.)

I somehow got this mental picture of being hooked up to a polygraph and being asked "Now, did you ever take Tylenol from the floor stock bottle?"

I'm not really sure what becomes of the info. I'm sure there is some policy on it regarding confidentiality because there is stuff divulged that no one needs to have access to, especially the news media. I have never heard of anything revealed in a polygraph by a prospective employee used inappropriately. I know that the polygraph examiner asks the questions and then writes a report to the review board as to what his professional opinion of the truthfulness of the prospective employee is. The actual answers are not revealed to anyone other than the polygraphist. I think that unless you confess to a murder or other serious crime nothing will ever come of anything you reveal. I have seen every piece of information in my personnel file and I never saw anything that came from the polygraph.

I'm no saint but I think my past as far as wrongdoings go is pretty boring. My great sin as far as stealing from my employer has been using company issued ink pens for my own stuff and using copying machines for my personal stuff. So technically that's stealing paper and ink but the examiner just rolled his eyes and said "is that all?" I've tried marijuana 3 times in my life and didn't even get a buzz or whatever it is you get with weed. Nothing to talk about there. Strangely, I got a reaction to the drug question once I was hooked up. By then we had been there almost 4 hours right thru lunch and I was getting queasy. That's what I mean when I said in my earlier post about being comfortable. I had my first polygraph way back in 1977 when I was 21. My session on sex must have been really boring. I think you could have counted my number of partners on one hand, with several fingers missing. By the time 2002 rolled around and I was getting the poly for the current job, the number of partners had increased somewhat. He didn't want to know anything about sex within my marriage, but he did ask if I had cheated, and of course I hadn't. But anything prior to the marriage was fair game.

medsurgrnco, BSN, RN

Specializes in Med-Surg, Psych.

I was offered a job in corrections. No polygraph, but a integrity screening is required. No questions about sex/relationships, only interested in last 5 yr drug history. But they want me to list all jobs I've had - like I even have that info anymore. And want to contact my family of origin to determine my appropriateness for the job, who I haven't even seen for over 10 yrs as I'm estranged from that dysfunctional family.

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