I accepted an entry-level job offer from a fortune 100 company for after graduation. Throughout the entire interviewing process I knew that any offer received would be contingent upon passing a background and drug test. With this in mind, I am plenty clean of any drug use and can confidently say I would pass a drug test today.

My issue is that I was given an 80-day window during which I would have to start this background check. That 80-day window opens this coming Thursday. I reached out to the company the other day to ask a few questions about various things and one of those questions was 'when will the background check begin?'

I was told I would receive information about the test in about a month. This would fall squarely in the middle of finals and a post-graduation trip I have planned. Would I be able to ask her to expedite the process without it looking unprofessional? Does anyone with HR experience know about the process of background testing a new hire? Can the talent acquisition employee I have been speaking with easily push it through on Thursday or does it require a lot of paperwork? Is it a huge pain in the ass to give someone special treatment or does it not really matter?

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    I am not sure what you are worried about. HR would understand finals and a post-graduation trip All you have to do is to give them your cell phone number so they can reach you to tell you when you can start. A Fortune 100 company usually is slow. You probably won't start to work until July or August. – scaaahu Apr 9 '18 at 3:15
  • scaaahu, I know when my start date is. I am just wondering how much work it is for an HR manager to initiate a background check for a new employee. – Devin Miller Apr 9 '18 at 3:38
  • Are you worried about something in the background check? If yes, say it. If no, just enjoy your vacation (between you graduate and start to work). – scaaahu Apr 9 '18 at 3:43
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    Okay, I got it. My advice, do NOT smoke. The modern test methods are sensitive. In theory, they can find the trace within the past months. It's your choice, getting high during graduation party or a job offer from a Fortune 100 company. – scaaahu Apr 9 '18 at 4:16
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    I have worked at companies where the suspicion of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs AT ANY TIME when working could trigger the immediate calling of an independent testing company. A positive test could trigger many things including medical intervention or termination for repeat offences. Submitting to the test when requested was a condition of employment. – uɐɪ Apr 9 '18 at 13:28

There's absolutely nothing wrong with politely informing them that you'll be unavailable during part of their proposed window due to school previously scheduled activities and ask if they could arrange the test for before then so that you'd have everything done and be ready to start as soon as you're back from vacation.

PS A company that pre-screens all of its hires with a drug test is likely to be one that regularly conducts random testing of their employees. Even if you do get tested before leaving for vacation, I'd strongly advise against partying with anything other than alcohol or nicotine in case they decide to conduct an additional test after you start.

You'd probably be safer looking for commentary from people who worked there on sites like glassdoor than asking up front. Interrogating your your hiring manager/hr contact/etc about their drug test policy runs the risk of raising red flags and if they do use a random testing policy at least in part to cover testing people they suspect are using controlled substances you could find yourself set up for frequent "random" tests.

PPS If as you questioning implies you do want to continue using substances that would result in your failing a drug test, I'd strongly advise you to reconsider your employment plans and instead look for an opening at a company (likely smaller) that doesn't care what you do for fun on the evenings/weekends. Starting your professional career by being fired for cause after flunking a test is not going to make finding your next job easier.

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  • Dan, Thanks for the help and the advice. How can I confirm that they do or do not drug test randomly? Also, just to be clear, you are referring to a truly random drug test. You are not referring to a company that offers contingent offer letters and then also regularly tests employees when they start. Correct? This is my first job, so I am not really sure how these things are handled. Thanks – Devin Miller Apr 9 '18 at 0:56
  • @DevinMiller - Should think carefully if you want to place any doubt into their minds. If you are willing to take a drug test to be hired, then you should be willing, to stay drug free. If you are not, then go ahead, ask about their drug policy. Are you willing to pass on the job, so you can smoke, smoke something I presume is still illegal per federal law. – Donald Apr 9 '18 at 4:16

Converting comment correspondence into an answer

... I am more concerned with expediting the background process so that I can smoke. Conversely, if I can find out exactly when the test is I can maybe smoke for a week and then quit again. At the end of the day, I'm not dying to get high but would like to enjoy that last month or so of college. Our company uses a third party background agency. I am wondering if getting all the new hires a background check is a big undertaking for her or if she just has to send a quick email to the background testing agency to start the process

My advice, do NOT smoke. The modern test methods are sensitive. In theory, they can find the trace within the past months. It's your choice, getting high during graduation party or a job offer from a Fortune 100 company

Can you tell me, if I were to take the test and pass tomorrow, would I be off the hook then? Or do companies drug test AGAIN at some other point in the hiring process?

That depends on the company and the nature of the job. Some companies conduct random drug test before and after hiring because their business is sensitive, eg. defense, financial and transportation (e.g. airlines). Some jobs are security related. If your job is not sensitive (you know what I mean here), the chance of random test is not that high. However, my advice is, don't bet on your job, especially if it's a good job.

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  • @DevinMiller I am converting our comment correspondence into an answer. If you object to it, please let me know so I can delete my answer. I want to do this because I think other people in the similar situation may find it helpful. Also, a reminder, the company may conduct a drug test right after you start the job. I heard of such a case before. – scaaahu Apr 9 '18 at 5:34

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