I'm just trying to understand the reasoning behind why some employers would NOT tell you up front (if not in the online ad itself, at least early on in the process) that there is a drug testing requirement. I would think they'd have nothing to lose by people who don't want to take it giving up up front. Why would some of them tell you you need to do one AFTER you pass the interview process, much to a waste of everyone's time thus far? I'm really just trying to understand their reasoning process and not ranting.

My gut feeling is that it may be just a matter of poor communication on the part of the employer. Are there other reasons?

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    Not telling you is just poor communication. Execute after you are hired can be part privacy. You can straight out ask if drug testing is required. – paparazzo Feb 25 '16 at 1:00
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    Me asking makes me sound like I'm doing drugs, which is something I'd rather not voluntarily disclose – amphibient Feb 25 '16 at 1:07
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    Never heard of this drug test, before or after interview. Could you please add a country tag? – Masked Man Feb 25 '16 at 2:26
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    @amphibient: you've just said that the fact that they would ask is a deal-breaker for you. That being true, why do you care what they think? Ask, mutually rehect each other, move on to next possible position. If you're taking a stand, that requires accepting consequences of that stand... otherwise it's meaningless. – keshlam Feb 25 '16 at 20:36
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    Ok, lesson learned is that since this matters to you, you have to be proactive and ask -- as for any other make-or0break item. – keshlam Feb 25 '16 at 20:39

I work in the IT business in the USA. I smoke marijuana semi-regularly because it is the only thing that can consistently keep my shoulders from flaring up super bad.

Pretty much any major employer (Stream/Convergys, ACS, Xerox, Nike, Intel, most major ISPs, hospitals, etc...) have required drug tests. Out of the 15 or so job offers that I have received in this industry (out of the 6 jobs that I have held), only one company did not mandate a drug testing; and it was a startup. None of these mentioned drug testing any time before the on-boarding process.

I have found that simply asking the recruiter if the company drug tests goes a long way. If they ask why, I tell them that I have a rather busy schedule, and would need to ensure that I can block off the 1-4 hours it takes to do the test.

This isn't specific to this industry, though. My relatives who aren't so tech savvy are working minimum wage jobs around the area. From fast food joints to supermarkets to gas stations, it's expected that any new employer drug tests. Many of them do simple mouth swab tests, but expect a urine test anyways.

I would say that it isn't dishonest in the slightest, but this may be largely a cultural thing. The fact that such a large majority of employers require drug testing simply means that anyone looking to get a job in the USA should more or less expect the test and prepare for it. With proper preparation, they are not a problem. Finding out that your new employer doesn't test should be a relief or surprise, and not the expected norm here.


As an employer, why would you tell them?

I don't want someone to stop for a few weeks to pass a test.

As a future employee I like this too.

I know I have less of a chance working with a habitual drug user and I know that people making hiring decisions have common sense about something.

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    Do you really think the surprise effect matters so much as to warrant wasting the whole interview efforts up to that point ? For example, the Home Depot has a very clear message to all applicants to not bother applying if they do drugs. I see your point, however it seems like it's based on some personal bias or inverted priorities – amphibient Feb 25 '16 at 8:24
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    If they are a drug addict they won't be able to stop for a few weeks. – paparazzo Feb 25 '16 at 10:25
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    There are numerous ways in which criminal behavior by someone involved in the employer-employee relationship could be harmful. Generally, we don't invade people's privacy to force them to prove their innocence with no basis for suspicion. For example, I have a strong reluctance to work for a boss who is an embezzler or tax cheat. Should I have the right to audit my potential manager's tax returns, bank statements etc. to establish their innocence before accepting a job? – Patricia Shanahan Feb 25 '16 at 14:27
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    That's for heavy drugs. But pot stays in much longer in your organism than dangerous drugs. I really think this has nothing to do with job performance and all to do with breaking the person's self esteem – amphibient Feb 25 '16 at 15:29
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    @amphibient - probably because HD doesn't want to pay for the drug tests, meaning they hire a lot more people than average company and a lot more people in the realm of doing drugs are applying. Some of my answer is my opinion on things, but obviously a lot of companies agree with me. For instance I have nothing against pot, but I have worked with some useless potheads. While you may be an exception I have learned over the years of having many many potheads on my staff that they underperform on average. Now I can remember 2-3 that were awesome employees - but talking averages. – blankip Feb 25 '16 at 16:07

Your best bet to find out would be asking. We only can speculate.

At some Companys the drug test is not only at start date, but quite regularly. I would suspect that a different part of HR is responsible for the test. The ones hire you, the others manage you after you are in. This may just boil down to company processes and bad synchronization between departments.

For example at my previous company they stated in the job description "Driving license required". No one asked me about the license during interview. The interviewers have too much else in mind to care about such trivialities. I worked for one month in the company as they first approached me about my divers license. I had been driving the company cars before.

I would expect something similar with the drug test. If I hire a engineer or someone else with high education, I do not expect to find out later that he is a drug addict. The processes may still require me to check, but I would not see that as important (and therefore leave it for later).

  • I'm confused, you drove company cars but didn't have a license? Or you drove company cars but nobody actually checked that you have a license? – stannius Feb 25 '16 at 17:13
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    @stannius of course i have a license. Nobody checked or even asked. That story is really not important, just added it for color. – jwsc Feb 25 '16 at 17:18
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    In the "oops, I don't have a license" case, the solution is usually to require the employee become licensed within N months (reassigned until they do, possibly at lower pay), or to negotiate that part of the contract, or both. This is not usually considered an acceptable approach for illegal drug use, not least because the company's insurance policies probably have that requirement and those are not easily negotiable. – keshlam Jun 10 '16 at 22:17
  • @jwsc - Please explain the you think if a person has a joint at the weekend they are a drug addict. – Ed Heal May 30 '17 at 22:24

Drug testing is a normal requirement for being employed in the USA. Not sure about other countries. I'd hazard a guess that it's so common that most companies don't even consider that it needs to be stated.

I'd say it's right up there with background checks and NDAs. Sure, it's poor communication, but, depending on where you live and what you do, you should expect to have to pass a test.

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    It is quite rare in Europe. I guess we take our privacy a bit more strongly that across the pond – Ed Heal Feb 25 '16 at 2:00
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    I've never, ever had it here in Australia in a 20+ year career. – Jane S Feb 25 '16 at 2:02
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    In the USA, it is not rare but definitely not common. I suspect it is used to filter out applicants with normal self esteem who would probably object to being bullied. – emory Feb 25 '16 at 2:09
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    This would have been a good answer if it were posted in 1989. – Blrfl Feb 25 '16 at 2:28
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    What happened in 1989? Just curious – Ed Heal Feb 25 '16 at 2:59

Simply put... Believe it or not... Some people cheat.

If the drug test is disclosed up front it gives people who are going to cheat an opportunity to do so. As mentioned in another answer, some people will just clean up for a few weeks before the test in order to pass. Others will try to use one of the never ending commercially available products to try to beat the test.

Like it or not, it's a reality and a financial reality too. Sending people to a lab for testing isn't cheap, but employers often get discounts on insurance for doing so.

They also do this to limit their liability. If you're ever injured on the job you can expect to be tested. If you fail, you'll lose your benefits and most likely your job as well.


reasoning behind why some employers would NOT tell you up front

Nothing malicious about it, they forgot about it, it's an industry where it's mandatory or they just didn't deem it important or expect drug users to be applying.

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    It's a huge and inappropriate assumption to make in 2016 – amphibient Feb 25 '16 at 7:12
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    @amphibient if you don't smoke anything that makes you paranoid it isn't. You think it's a new way of doing undercover Vice Squad stings? – Kilisi Feb 25 '16 at 7:34
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    @Kilisi if it is industry mandatory then candidates probably should know about it before hand whether or not they are told. If it is not industry mandatory, then it kills about half a day (uncompensated) - which is important. If drug users are not expected to apply, then why test for drugs? – emory Feb 25 '16 at 10:00
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    @amphibient Drug testing is not an assumption of drug use, but a verification of non-use. People lie, even in 2016 (whatever that's supposed to mean). – Substantial Jun 11 '16 at 14:30
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    @Substantial If it takes you 15 minutes to urinate, then you should probably see a doctor. Regardless, time to pee is just a small part of the time cost and you were going to pee anyway so it probably should not be counted at all. I had to do a drug test a couple of years back. The chosen lab was in another city. I had to take a bus and a couple of transfers to get there. Bus fare was on me. No one offered to pay for my time. What if instead, a drug test worker came to my house to collect my urine? – emory Jun 11 '16 at 17:27

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