How to ask if a company drug tests

Getting a new job is difficult enough without having to worry about whether company drug tests or not. Going through a rigorous interview process only to then be rejected due to your drug test results is demotivating. 

You don’t want to directly ask a company if they drug test their employees. Their employees can raise red flags and imply you use drugs. Instead, you should get the information indirectly and use online resources to find the information. Understanding your local drug policy laws will also help you out a lot. 

Less than 2% of companies in America require a pre-employer drugs test, so you are unlikely to be asked. Only Arlington, Texas has a higher drug testing rate with around 7% of jobs requiring a drug screening before you start work.

However, the figure above varies wildly depending on the industry you intend to work in. So it’s always good to understand the best way to ask if a company does drugs tests. 

If you are looking for a drug test, I’d recommend a 12-panel full drug test that highlights all of the most common drugs in your systems.

How to tell if a company drug tests?

Asking a company directly if they drug test is not a good idea as it can raise suspicions and make you look guilty. Your best option is to use all the tools at your disposal to try and find out the information indirectly. That way, you don’t raise any alarms and get a better understanding of their drugs policy. 

If you use drugs, finding out whether there is a drug screening as part of the recruitment process is important. Otherwise, you could waste your time or be let down at the final hurdle.

If they do drug tests you may want to check purchase a full spectrum drug test that highlights the 14 most common drugs in your system.

Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to tell if a company drug tests its employees. 

The Industry

The industry you work in is the largest determining factor in whether a company will drug test you or not. As we discussed, tech companies don’t drug test because of their culture and a major shortage of skilled workers. The type of people these roles attract means that tech companies would struggle to fill positions if they did mass drug testing. 

However, if you intend to work for the military or the federal government drug testing is mandatory for all employees. In jobs that require operating heavy machinery and vehicles or providing healthcare, you are very likely to be drug tested. Any job with the Department of Transportation will require a compulsory drug test. Office jobs, in general, don’t require drug screening.

So just be aware of the type of company you are working for. If you work for a transport company but aren’t a driver or operate heavy machines, you are still likely to be tested. Just to keep things uniform across employees.

Online forums and resources

Your best bet for finding out information is by reaching out to people in forums or consuming other online resources. Reddit is the perfect place for first-hand information on people who have gone through interview processes at various companies. Recruitment sites like Glassdoor or Indeed also have a question and answer sections where you can ask if a company drug tests. 

However, we are aware that this option only applies to medium to large companies. Smaller companies won’t have had the throughput of employees for those types of questions to be asked and answered online.

You could use LinkedIn to reach out to previous employees who have worked at the company in a similar role and ask them. It’s a slightly more bold approach but avoids having to ask the employer directly.

Check the laws


Employment drug screening laws are different in every country and state. Checking your local laws is a great way to find out if a company can drug test. In Ohio, no drug tests can be conducted before a job has been offered. They can only be tested if they are a recent hire or if there is suspected drug use, even then they must be provided with advanced notice. 

In contrast, North Carolina supports the employer far more. They can drug screen their employees and applicants without restriction. In the UK, workers can’t be forced to take a drug test and can only be administered in limited circumstances.

Check out the state-by-state drug testing laws to get an idea of what employers can legally do and whether they are even likely to perform a drug test. It may not link directly to a specific company but will give you an idea of whether you are even likely to have to do one. 

Employer Handbook

Whether you apply for a job directly or go through a recruiter, they usually provide you with some information on the company. It can range from basic pay and working hours to employee culture and benefits. It’s worth asking for the employer or employee handbook once you hear back from the business. 

The employer handbook usually contains all the information you need to make an informed decision about the business. Including their drug testing policy. You can ask for the handbook without it looking suspicious and it will also give you a better idea of the company culture. The handbook is the perfect way to get a feel for the company before you decide to take a job there. 

Can you ask an employer if they drug test?

You can directly ask an employer if they drug test but it may raise suspicion that you use drugs. A better option is to find out the information indirectly or ask questions about their various policies to get the answer you need.

Too much questioning around a company’s drug testing policy may raise some alarms internally. The worst-case could be that they drug test you just to be sure. As we discussed, in some government and transport jobs you should expect to be drug tested, and for good reason. Operating heavy machinery under the influence can be incredibly dangerous. For private-sector jobs, you have a few options when asking your employer if they drug test. 

Call Anonymously

It may sound childish but calling the companies head office and asking about their drug policy directly could work. You can feign interest in a different position and mention you are worried about drug testing because of the medication you are on. Their reply will give you the information you need. You could even get a friend to call for you just to check. 

Ask Indirectly

Instead of asking your potential employer about their drugs policy you could try and get the information in a roundabout way. At any point during the application process, you can ask about the next steps. Ask for a breakdown of the different stages so you can get an idea of how to prepare correctly. Doing this gets you the answer you need in an unassuming way and has the advantage of making you look organized.

There are many variations to the above. You can even ask specifically about orientation events or onboarding activities that need to be done before your start date. Companies don’t typically lie to their employees so doing this should let you know if they drug test. 

Can you ask about drug testing in an interview?

You can ask about drug testing in an interview but it is advised against. Unfortunately, there is no innocent way to ask a company if they drug test their employees. Specific questions about drug screening may make you seem untrustworthy and they may assume you are using drugs. 

Ideally, you should have done enough research prior to the interview to understand if they are drug screening candidates. As we mentioned calling ahead, using online resources, speaking to previous employees if your best bet at finding the information.

You could discuss fear of needles and potentially ask about the company medical to try to get the information that way. Wrapping it in questions about health insurance coverage as part of your benefits package could work i.e. what sort of coverage do we get? Do we have to do a company medical to be eligible? What is involved? However, depending on how you phrase the question it could be pretty transparent what you are getting at. 

It is possible to ask and discuss the medication you are currently taking. However, this may count against you in terms of getting the job. While it is not technically legal to discriminate based on your health, companies may choose a different candidate if they think you are going to be a liability. 

If you are thinking of moving jobs it may be best to cut banned substances out for a month or so while you pass through the recruitment process. It is an incredible waste of your time to get through to the latter stages of a job interview and then fail due to drugs. Some industries take drug use far more seriously than others, so just be aware of this when going for a job.

Can employers legally ask you about drugs in an interview? 

Employers can not ask candidates about prescriptions drugs or the historical use of drugs in an interview. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) 1990 protects recovering alcoholics and drug users who have gotten treatment from being discriminated against for job opportunities. It means that employers can’t question drug use without violating the law.

Questions around what mediation a candidate is on could be construed as trying to determine whether they have a disability. It makes the process unfair and is not permitted. 

If you have a history of drug addiction you can be protected under disability discrimination law and can’t be questioned. Prescription medication also tends not to violate a company’s workplace drug policy, so you don’t need to worry about that. 

However, the company still has the right to make you complete a drug test to check if you are currently using drugs. So while you are protected from questions in the interview you will still have to go through the usual drug screening procedures.

You are afforded some protection by the law based on the potential of having a disability but companies are still given the autonomy. The ADA act mentioned above still allows businesses to implement a drug-free workplace policy. They need to make sure not to single people out based on a disability. So be aware of this when applying for jobs. 

Drug testing after a final job offer

It is rare to be drug tested after a final job offer. However, some companies will fast-track employees when the demand for staff is high. Usually, they allow candidates to begin work but have it written in their contract that is pending a successful background check and drug screening.

Generally, having to perform a drug test post job offer is rare but it can happen so keep an eye out. When there are staff shortages companies often push forward their hiring timeline to get people into roles quicker. 

If you are worried about drug screening in general just make sure to stay sober for at least a month or so before applying for jobs. It will help reduce anxiety when progressing through the various stages of your application.

If you are looking for a drug test, I’d recommend a 12-panel full drug test that highlights all of the most common drugs in your systems.

Conclusion

Asking a company if they perform pre-screening drug tests on their candidates is best avoided. It raises suspicions and could count against you when a hiring decision has to be made. Instead, find out if they complete drug screening indirectly by doing some digging online or asking the right questions before applying.

Working out whether company drug tests can be tricky but thanks to the internet it is easier than it’s ever been. Just make sure you aren’t being asked questions related to medication in the interview and avoid asking them direct questions about the process.