Job Applicant Asks if Flunking FBI Polygraph Will Hurt Chances With Justice Dept.

polygraphBy Allan Lengel

WASHINGTON — Can flunking an FBI job entrance exam hurt your chances of getting another government job?

Derrick T. Dortch, president of Derrick T. Dortch, president of the Diversa Group, a career counselor who specializes in government job searches and military transition, answered  “no” during a recent chat at

Here’s how the conversation went:

Question: “I just had an interview with the Board of Immigration Appeals in the Department of Justice, and I am still waiting for the results. I have a question about clearance matters. I also applied to be an FBI special agent, and although I made it through the selection process, I failed the polygraph examination. Do you think this will count against me if I get the BIA position?”

Derrick Dortch: “I am sorry to hear about the polygraph. The FBI’s polygraph process is a very stressful one, so don’t be too discouraged. Keep on applying to federal positions as you are doing. Now in terms of the polygraph and the DOJ, it should not be held against you. Most DOJ positions, aside from those in the FBI and a few other areas, do not require you to take a polygraph exam.” Reader Responds About Reliability of Polygraph


One thought on “Job Applicant Asks if Flunking FBI Polygraph Will Hurt Chances With Justice Dept.

  1. I’m a co-founder of, a non-profit, public interest website dedicated to exposing and ending waste, fraud, and abuse associated with the use of polygraphs and other purported lie detectors.

    I’d be interested to know on the basis of what evidence Derrick Dortch maintains that a failed FBI pre-employment polygraph should not be held against an applicant seeking employment with another DOJ agency.

    One’s FBI file is a permanent record, and will no doubt be reviewed. To the extent that security clearance adjudicators believe in polygraphy, it stands to reason that a failed FBI polygraph would be considered derogatory, even if the other agency does not itself require polygraph screening.

    While I haven’t spoken with anyone who has failed an FBI polygraph and then sought employment with the Board of Immigration Appeals, I have spoken with numerous individuals who have had difficulties with other agencies after failing an FBI pre-employment polygraph.

    It should be noted that the FBI’s pre-employment polygraph failure rate is something on the order of 50%. Given the fact that polygraphy has no scientific basis whatsoever, it’s clear that many are being falsely accused (and wrongly barred for life from FBI employment).

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