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Drug Tests And Criminal History Checks Provide More Complete Job Candidate Information

By Expert Author: Chris Phelps

Using a combination of methods recommended for employers who wish to screen for problem job seekers.


Many employers say the most challenging part of their business is to hire the right people. The process involves skills checks and an intangible assessment of job candidates’ personality characteristics. All of which are critically impactful on a business’s bottom line: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American worker cost $29.23 per hour worked in 2013. Particularly in labor-intensive industries, this constitutes a significant proportion of overall enterprise costs.


What few employers want is to hire someone prone to substance abuse or criminal behaviors. And while not all drug abusers are criminals and not all criminals abuse drugs, there is great deal of overlap between the two (many drug users support their habits by committing crimes). While socially a difficult problem, this fact creates two means by which a problem candidate can be identified before a job offer is made.


Note that drug testing is effective to a certain level, but that detection times vary by testing method (urine versus hair analysis) and the particular drug being tested for. Following a examples of types of drugs found in urine samples:


Drug Approximate detection time in urine


Marijuana 1-2 joints, 2-3 days; chronic use (5+ joints per day) 14-18 days


Cocaine 2-4 days


Ecstasy (MDMA) 1-3 days


Methamphetamine 1-4 days


Because of these detection times, it is possible for a job candidate to refrain from use while job interviewing. In firms where random testing is conducted on all existing employees the scenario is obviously different.


A criminal history check as part of an employee background screening, conducted as a complement to the drug test, necessarily involves a check of multiple databases. This is because some records are maintained on a local basis only (misdemeanors in particular, which some drug charges are), therefore a background check specialist would know to search within county, state and federal criminal court records.


Given the performance and workplace safety issues confronting employers, these overlapping checks can weed out undesirable employees fairly quickly.

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