Drug Screen- The Good, The Bad, and The Down Right Disappointing

Taking urine samples from just hired employees is certainly not the most glamorous part of my job, but it is often the most revealing. Over time I have learned enough about human behavior to get a good feel of who will probably fail the drug screen, however thinking someone may fail a drug screen is obviously not a legal reason not to hire someone. There are often signs, though, like when they get antsy when they see the drug consent form and start asking questions like what we test for and when we will be doing the test, will they send them somewhere else for it.. etc. But I always go into my interview with an open mind and base my hiring decisions on our needs and the persons skills.

That being said, it never ceases to amaze me how people respond to failing the drug screen. One of my favorites is the Denier. They either insist that the test must be wrong that they have NEVER done drugs or they say they are on a prescription and that must be the reason why. Really? Awesome! If they say it is wrong, our policy is to have them retake it. If it’s a prescription, we need a copy of the prescription so we can verify that it would cause a positive result for that particular drug.

For some strange reason, they never return with that information.

Another of my favorites is the repeat offender. It doesn’t happen often, but our company has a policy that an employee must wait 6 months before reapplying after failing a drug screen. At that point, in my mind, you have no excuses. You already know we do the drug screen. OBVIOUSLY. Yet a handful of times I have had people come back after 6 months and fail again. I kid you not, I had one employee tell me that they “thought they had waited long enough for it to be out of [their] system this time”

Gee, that’s reassuring. I definitely want to put you out on a job site now!

There’s also the group of people who always take a ridiculously long time filling out their paperwork (I can only assume they are considering whether or not they want to risk the test?) only to fail. These types often have the most frustrating responses.

“Really? Darn..”


“Oh yeah, I smoked a couple days ago.. I thought it would be out of my system by now!”

“Yeah, my friends smoke all the time so it’s probably just second-hand.. oh well.”


It frustrates me to no end when they go in knowing (or they should know) that they will fail, but they waste my time as well as their own.


The disappointment comes when I actually do believe the employee or when I know they would have been the perfect candidate to fill an open job order. One employee had just lost their child in a tragic accident and after failing, admitted that they had done the drugs to cope. I do not condone the use of drugs, but it still breaks my heart that not only did they lose their child (which I do know is true) but they messed up an opportunity for employment. That employee had the perfect skills for an order that had an immediate need and they wanted to get to work to keep busy.

Lately I have had a string of fails that took me by surprise. Professional looking employees who interviewed well, conducted themselves in a similar manner, tested well, etc.. yet they fail.

Which brings me to the good.

You never know who is doing drugs!

We screen every new hire as well as screen after an on the job injury, because at the end of the day it is a liability not to. Even with the best red flag detector, there will always be people who know how to hold themselves professionally yet they hide a dark secret. The last thing you need is to send someone to a job site, representing YOUR company, when they could show up high or worse– get injured due to being high.

Now even with your screening process (in our case: phone screen, interview, drug screen, AND background screen) you will not catch everyone. Perhaps they have never been caught doing illegal activities and perhaps they were smart and expected the drug screen… but at least you can say that you did your due diligence in screening them.

Testing urine may not be glamorous, but it sure is important!


Do you have any funny/shocking drug screen stories?

Share below!



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