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Pre-Employment Physical: What You Need to Know

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As a job candidate, you may be required to do various tests before getting hired. Among the popular exams that you have to take is the pre-employment physical.

The physical examination can add time to your job search. However, it’s usually an essential part of the Pre-employment screening process.

In today’s article, we’ll walk you through a complete guide with everything you need to know about this exam and how to prepare for it!

What is a Pre-Employment Physical?

The Pre-employment physical is a medical test oftentimes required to get a job and is a form of human performance evaluation.

This one is intended for assessing the physical and mental health of a job candidate to make sure that they’re healthy and ready for the mental and physical demands of the new role.

Besides assessing candidates, the physical can also help companies keep track of the health record of their employees.

Are Pre-Employment Physicals Legal?

Ideally, there’s no general legal obligation for companies to perform pre-employment physicals, although this may vary depending on the job’s nature.

However, performing a physical is usually an indicator of a good employer because it shows that the company is committed to health and safety standards.

With that said, some jobs aren’t safety-sensitive, which makes the pre-employment physical an unnecessary hardship for job candidates.

Which Jobs Require Pre-Employment Physicals?

Although it may vary due to local laws and employers, some jobs may require a pre-employment physical more than others.

This usually includes occupations that depend on the employees’ physical and mental capabilities to perform their jobs, such as:

  • Police
  • Firefighters
  • Commercial Drivers
  • Construction Workers
  • Healthcare Workers
  • Physically Intensive Jobs

Why Are Pre-Employment Physicals Required?

As previously established, some jobs require a certain level of strength and the physical ability to maintain your physical balance and dexterity while on the job.

By testing these aspects in a candidate, the company can make sure that their employers can keep up with the job’s demands.

Some jobs may carry some risks to susceptible candidates. For example, dealing with materials or chemicals that may trigger hypersensitivity among some people.

This also applies to maintaining your focus while operating heavy machinery or any physical labor that can be too intense for people with health problems. A pre-employment physical will ensure that you’re clear to do the job safely.

How to Prepare for a Pre-Employment Physical

One of the easiest tricks to get a job fast is to prepare yourself for the pre-employment physical. Here’s how to do it:

  • Avoid Drugs: Almost all pre-employment exams will involve a drug test, and it’s often the leading reason why candidates fail to land the job.
  • Eat Healthy Food: Include vitamin and mineral-rich foods in your diet to get the best results on exams. Lack of certain nutrients may impact your overall score.
  • Exercise: Besides being critical for your health, consistent exercise will help you ace the test if they require high stamina or endurance, such as military and police physicals.
  • Bring Your Medications: Some medications may accidentally alter the results of the tests. If you take any special medicines, make sure that you bring them along to be accounted for during the test.

What Should You Bring to a Pre-Employment Physical?

Ideally, you should bring any document or item that needs to be included or considered while performing the exam.

This includes all the essential paperwork, such as your Identification, and important medical records. Also, besides your medications, you should bring any visual or hearing aids that you use.

Remember to wear comfortable clothing and avoid wearing excessive accessories or jewelry during the test.

What to Expect During a Pre-Employment Physical

Pre-employment physicals are usually quite simple. Here’s what you need to expect during the exam:

What Does the Pre-Employment Check-Up Include?

The contents of a pre-employment test may vary depending on the job requirements. However, these are the most common check-ups involved in the exam:

Vision and Hearing Tests

These tests are to ensure that the prospective employee would be able to hear and see objects properly while on the job. They’re extra critical for high-detail jobs that require accuracy.

Test of Your Basic Functions

These tests check the candidate’s physical ability to move properly and also include general health of the joints and body reflexes.

Blood Test

Complete blood work can give a quick look at the employer’s general health. It can also reveal certain diseases as well as chemicals present in the blood.

The test is usually accompanied by a mouth swab test, which also helps in drug screening.


Obesity can heavily impact the performance of an employee, especially in jobs that require fitness and endurance like the military.

To get your Basal Metabolic Index (BMI), your examiner will measure your weight and height.

Blood Pressure

Blood pressure is the easiest method to test for any irregularities in your cardiovascular system. This one is usually more important in jobs that require physical exertion.

Baseline Health

Some pre-employment physicals will involve a baseline health test that assesses your overall health and fitness through a series of small tests, such as running on a treadmill or lifting small weights.

Medical History

The medical history exam involves checking for any serious health conditions that you had in the past.

This is because some jobs are considered high risk for employees, such as heart problems and labor-intensive jobs.

Mental Health

Despite the name, pre-employment physicals may also check candidates for mental health.

Keep in mind that some jobs may require a full psychological assessment, which is a more complex test performed by a licensed psychiatrist.

Why Do They Draw Blood for Pre-Employment?

A blood sample can reveal a lot about a candidate’s health and lifestyle. For starters, many drugs can be traced in the bloodstream several days after consumption, so it’s an easy way to screen for substance abuse.

Blood samples can also test various health indicators and diseases, such as diabetes, hepatitis, HIV, etc.

What Can Cause You to Fail a Pre-Employment Physical?

Failing a pre-employment physical can happen for many reasons. Here’s a quick look at them:

1. Poor Health

If you suffer from relatively poor health or have specific health conditions that may prevent you from doing your job, you may end up failing the test.

An employee with poor health won’t only be capable of fulfilling the requirements of the job, but may also severely impact the company’s medical insurance costs.

2. Drug Use

Many workplaces have very strict rules regarding drug and substance abuse. During the exam, you may need to provide urine and blood samples to be checked for illicit drugs.

Keep in mind that some medications may trigger a false positive on these tests, so you have to let the examiner know about any treatments you’re on to be taken into consideration.

3. New Diagnosis

Since a pre-employment physical is a form of health checkup, the examiner may find a new diagnosis or a condition that you didn’t know about.

If this new diagnosis affects your mental or physical ability to do the job, you’ll fail the exam.

Keep in mind that the examiner might recommend that you receive urgent care for this newly diagnosed condition.

4. You Don’t Meet the Requirements

Some jobs may list some requirements in order to ensure physical fitness for the job. This includes a certain height, weight, basal metabolic rate, blood pressure range, etc. Failing to meet these requirements will exclude you as a job candidate.

What Happens if You Fail a Pre-Employment Physical?

Depending on the policy of the pre-employment physical, the employer may be able to withdraw the job offer from the failed candidate.

In some cases, potential employees may be scheduled for another physical exam to confirm the results, but not always.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should I Wear to a Pre-Employment Physical?

You should wear comfortable clothing to make the pre-employment physical easier for you. If your test involves physical excursion, wearing workout clothes or tracksuits may also be a good idea.

You should also avoid wearing unnecessary accessories or putting on heavy makeup during the exam.

Why Should You Not Do Before a Pre-Employment Physical?

On your physical exam day, avoid a heavy breakfast or eating fatty or salty food, as it can reduce your overall performance.

Also, while some people think it’s good for them, you should avoid energy drinks before the test because they increase your resting heart rate dramatically, which causes the examiner to suspect heart problems.

Wrap Up

This marks the end of today’s guide that explains pre-employment physicals and their significance during the job screening process.

As you can see, it includes several tests and can vary depending on the job’s nature. However, with this guide, you should be able to prepare for it with relative ease!

Like always, don’t forget to share your thoughts and questions with us in the comments below!

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