Monday, March 23, 2009

A Word on Interviews and Drug Tests

We've got a lot on our table, as a country. But, I think we all realize that the economy is the major problem right now. As the recession has hit, we've seen more and more people continue to lose their jobs. In addition to having a problem with massive unemployment, we're dealing with many people who are underemployed. Underemployed is when you have folks who are working part-time/a few days a week, when what they need and are looking for is full-time work.

I was having a conversation with a friend and heard a story that reminded me of my days in Human Resources. We were talking about the drug test that applicants must take before being hired. Now, let me start by saying that this post IN NO WAY IMPLIES THAT ONLY BLACKS FAIL PRE-EMPLOYMENT DRUG TESTS. However, this blog is targeted to Blacks in the workplace. So, that's the focus.

Now, my friend and I were talking about two Black workers who were the top candidates for a government job. The drug test they needed to take did not involve urine, but a hair sample. When the Black female applicant was asked to take the drug test, she excused herself from the room--NEVER to return. You see, she was prepared for a urine test because she apparently took some pills that were supposed to clean the marijuana from her system, so she could pass a drug test. She wasn't prepared to give a hair sample.

The other person, a Black male, suddenly lost all sense of professionalism and said to his Black, female interviewer(and I'm paraphrasing), "I'll be honest, Sis, I don't think I'm gonna pass this drug test. Can't you hook a ni**er up and give me a little of your hair!"

Of course, the interviewer was shocked and horrified! She asked if he wanted her to commit fraud and asked him how it was plausible that she would give her hair sample to him, especially considering her hair sample was already on file. She was completely disgusted by the time she dismissed him from the interview.

Now, these are two very recent examples of Black folks screwing up their ability to get a job because they were determined to smoke weed and/or partake in other drugs, when they KNEW THEY WERE ACTIVELY LOOKING FOR WORK.

Here's the point of this post. If you can't stop smoking blunts or anything else, while you are struggling to get a job DURING A RECESSION, then you've got some serious issues.

These two stories are not isolated incidents. Working in HR, I can tell you that these tales are not uncommon and become fodder for laughs in the office. We'd send someone out for a drug test and they'd never show up at the facility to be screened. The Black staff couldn't figure out what the heck is wrong with some of our people. We wondered why they even showed up for an interview, knowing they couldn't pass a drug test. Why waste our time? Why waste their own? Obviously, they weren't serious in their efforts to get a job. They knew they were sending out applications, yet they continued to use drugs.

On top of letting yourself down, think about the fact that you are perpetuating stereotypes of Black people as being prone to abuse drugs. When some of us walk into these interviews and start cutting up and acting a fool, when the subject of a drug test comes up, it's often not looked at as an isolated incident. It is sometimes looked at as a pattern of behavior by Black people.

So, think about the fact that in a diverse society--still struggling with racial stereotypes and biases--you are impacting the lives and opportunities of others.

If you don't care about that, you should care enough about yourself and your livelihood to get your priorties straight. Conduct yourself with respect. You should care about your reputation.

More importantly, you should remember that the world is getting smaller and smaller. Everyone is competing against growing numbers of applicants for jobs. Additionally, you don't know who you will run into at a company or in the hiring manager's office.

If you truly want to get work, you've got to be able to pass the easiest portion of the pre-employment process. If you are not an addict, you should not have a problem with a drug screening. If you feel that you have the "screw it" attitude and are going to do what you want, don't even send out applications. Save yourself some embarassment and car fare/gas.

To all other serious job applicants, I wish you good luck out there. Enough said!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Put

7:14 PM  
Blogger Bernadette said...

Where can I find statistics on blacks failing drug tests, particularly with the unions and trades.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous dk said...

To be completely honest....the reason why this seems like a "black" problem is not due to drug abuse. Better stated...this is problematic because black folks prefer to deal with a plant rather than subscribe to abusing all those little pills like our Caucasian counterparts.

Moreover....I'm in awe at your description...abuse. really?
Don't get me wrong....
I prepared to take the stupid test....but in actuality the people with the scripts are the real abusers and eventually this useless phohibition will be over.

8:05 PM  

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