Pre-employment testing

Quest Diagnostics

Pre-employment drug testing

Employers design drug-free workplace programs to protect their organizations from the impact of drug abuse. 

Woman specialist in drug testing laboratoryPre-employment drug testing is the most common type of drug testing performed. Employers typically use it to proactively protect themselves from the negative impacts of hiring drug users. Pre-employment testing is usually performed after a conditional offer of employment has been made and a negative drug test result is required before an applicant starts working.

While most employers are not required to drug test their employees, pre-employment urine testing is mandated among federally-regulated employers who employ individuals in safety-sensitive positions including truck, bus and taxi drivers, airplane pilots and railroad employees. Lower positivity rates among these safety-sensitive positions are likely the result of applicant and employee demographics; required training and licensure; and the broad, ongoing and predictable nature of the drug testing programs.
Urine testing is the only method that has been approved for federally mandated, safety-sensitive drug testing, and is often chosen by employers in the general workforce for its many benefits. For employers with both regulated and non-regulated employees, urine allows them to have a consistent testing program for both groups. It’s also cost-effective, typically able to screen for a wider variety of illicit and prescription drugs, and urine collection volumes are generous, which allows for additional flexibility in the testing process.
Oral fluid testing is gaining popularity because it offers an observed collection which can help to thwart would-be cheaters and it can be collected on-site thereby reducing cost and time associated with other collections. Hair testing and its long window of detection is a good fit for employers who want to avoid hiring long-term or lifestyle drug users, and, like oral fluid, its observed collection can help to minimize adulteration and substitution. 

All three drug test specimen types, whether used alone or in conjunction with each other are suitable for pre-employment screening where the goal is to enable an employer to hire a drug-free candidate. The main drawback of only utilizing pre-employment testing is that drug-using applicants who were able to suspend their use long enough to pass their drug test, can restart their use undetected. Combining pre-employment testing and one or more of the other reasons for testing is the best way to avoid hiring drug using applicants while discouraging drug use among employees.
Drug testing can help to improve employee morale and productivity while decreasing absenteeism, accidents, downtime, turnover and theft. Because every business and workforce is unique, every employer should make a careful determination about the drug testing program elements that are most beneficial for their workplace.

Download our Drug Testing Solution At-A-Glance matrix to compare urine, instant urine, oral fluid and hair drug testing.
Get more workforce drug testing resources from Quest Diagnostics.