Drug testing at job interviews

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Next time you apply for a job don’t be surprised if you’re asked to take a drug test as part of the interview process. Drug testing is becoming more common, especially if you’re going for a job in a big company.

What is a drug test?

The type of test you’re asked to do will depend on the policy of the company you’re applying to work for and also the practices of the collector and the collecting agency (the people doing the testing for the company).

There are different ways to test your body for traces of drugs. Most likely you’ll be asked to provide a urine sample or maybe a sample of your saliva, hair or blood.

Your sample will be tested to check that it's yours and not someone else’s. So don’t think you can just sneak in a clean sample from a friend to your next job interview!

What type of drugs will you be tested for?

Common illegal drugs, like marijuana, cocaine or opiates, will show up in your sample but most prescription medicines won’t. If you’re taking a drug prescribed by your doctor the collector and the collecting agency should take this into account.

Why do employers drug test?

Employees who abuse drugs and alcohol are likely to be less productive and need more time off work than employees who don’t do drugs. If you take drugs there’s a much bigger chance you’ll be part of an accident or suffer an injury on the job.

Employers don’t want to hire you if you’re going to cause them trouble and cost them money! And they won’t want to hire you if you’ll put their employees or other people who come into contact with their organisation at risk. So if you don’t pass the drug test, they won’t hire you.

What are your rights?

If you’re asked to take a drug test you have a choice - you don’t have to do it. In most cases you can expect that:

  • The workplace policy on drug and alcohol use will be explained to you
  • The testing process will be explained to you
  • The consequences of refusing to be tested or of testing positive will be explained to you
  • You’ll be given some privacy to provide your sample

If you think your rights have been violated you can contact your union or get in touch with WorkSafe Victoria (new window).