What is a Pre-Employment Work Physical?

What is a pre-employment work physical? Employers may need you to complete a pre-employment physical if you are being considered for a job position. While companies may need a variety of various sorts of pre-employment exams, a pre-employment physical enables them to determine your physical ability to accomplish the job's obligations. Understanding what to expect during a pre-employment physical will assist you in feeling more prepared for the procedure.

What exactly is a pre-employment physical examination?

A pre-employment physical examination is a medical examination that companies may require prospective workers to undergo to determine their physical and mental ability to perform the job. A pre-employment physical examination is a standard aspect of many firms' onboarding processes, particularly if they wish to verify the employee is physically capable of performing job-related duties. Pre-employment physicals can be quick or lengthy, depending on the nature of the role.

A pre-employment physical enables employers to assess potential workers' general health state in order to make educated hiring decisions. Additionally, it simplifies record-keeping by allowing the organization to track changes in employee health over time.

work physical

What to anticipate during a pre-employment physical examination

What to expect during a pre-employment physical varies according to the position you've been given, as the objective of the physical is to assess your capabilities for that particular function. It is critical for the examiner to have a thorough understanding of the job requirements in order to determine if you are capable of properly completing the tasks and duties related to the employment.

You should anticipate the following during the physical examination:

  • You will be questioned about your family's medical history, your lifestyle, and other general health-related matters.
  • Your weight, height, blood pressure, and other vital statistics will be obtained. You will also have a physical examination.
  • Be drug and alcohol tested, particularly if your employment requires you to handle heavy machinery or drive.
  • Examine your vision and hearing.

Pre-employment physical examination types

Employers may demand a variety of various sorts of pre-employment exams in order to qualify for employment. They include the following:

Pre-employment physical examination in general

This form of the pre-employment physical examination consists of basic tests such as weight, pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and any other vital signs. Additionally, the candidate's respiratory and cardiovascular systems, eyesight, hearing, range of motion, and reflexes may be examined by a nurse or physician. Additionally, the doctor will examine the individual for any odd swelling or bruises and, if known, will discover the cause. Along with checking the applicant's physical condition, the doctor may enquire about the candidate's ability to cope with stress, address any mood or behavioral changes, and inquire about any medications the candidate is currently taking.

Test of physical ability and stamina

If you are looking for a position that demands heavy work or frequent lifting, the employer may need you to undergo a physical examination to determine your stamina and physical aptitude. This exam is used to determine whether the candidate have the physical ability to withstand the position's responsibilities. Finally, it assists the employer in identifying the individuals who are the most competent and least likely to sustain an injury on the job.

The exam looks at:

  • Flexibility
  • Power
  • Cardiovascular health equilibrium
  • Tension in the muscles
  • Attitude under duress

Drug screening examination

Numerous businesses need applicants to pass drug tests in order to be considered for employment. This may involve a urine drug test, a hair drug and alcohol test, a saliva drug test, and a sweat drug test. Jobs with extremely high-risk duties are the most likely to need drug and alcohol tests.

Psychological examination

This examination is used to determine the candidate's mental health and well-being. A medical practitioner will run several tests and ask questions during a psychological examination to assess the candidate's capacity to deal with on-the-job stress. The healthcare expert may question about the candidate's history of depression or other mood problems, as well as their coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. Additionally, the therapist or physician may inquire about the candidate's family history, nutrition, and lifestyle in order to provide a complete picture of the candidate's capacity to deal with stressful conditions.

Pre-employment physical examination vs. appraisal of human performance

While both are intended to assess an employee's abilities, there are some significant distinctions between physical and human performance evaluations (HPE).

Exam conducted by a professional

Physical examinations are often done in health care institutions by qualified healthcare professionals. In comparison, an HPE is usually administered by a qualified therapist. In both circumstances, the medical expert must have a thorough understanding of the company's requirements and expectations in order to determine if the applicant meets those criteria.

Evaluation's focal point

Another significant distinction between HPEs and pre-employment physicals is the assessment emphasis. A pre-employment physical is meant to assess a candidate's overall health, whereas a job performance evaluation is more focused on the abilities required on a daily basis and the role's specific tasks. Additionally, a performance review can assist employers in reducing or eliminating some of the risk factors associated with on-the-job accidents.

Preparing for a pre-employment physical examination

While you cannot modify your health for a pre-employment physical, you may prepare for the examination by taking the following steps:

  • Collecting the documents given by the employer outlining the information they require
  • Assemble any test-taking tools you may require, such as spectacles
  • Ascertaining that you possess a legitimate form of identity, such as a driver's license or employer-issued badge
  • Compiling a list of previous surgical procedures, drugs, medical problems, and allergens

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Common FAQ's

Common questions from job seekers.

How long do pre-employment physical exams take?

Although there are several forms of pre-employment physicals, they normally take between 45 and 60 minutes to complete. If numerous tests are required, the physical examination may take significantly longer. When laboratory testing is conducted, it is not uncommon for results to take hours or even days to arrive.

Is a pre-employment physical exam mandatory?

For many positions, it is vital to maintain a level of physical and mental health sufficient to carry out your increased tasks and minimize your risk of work-related accidents. Certain occupations, such as police, firemen, and commercial drivers, require pre-employment physicals.

A drug or alcohol test can be administered along with a pre-employment physical exam.

What can I expect at a work physical?

A pre-employment physical examination (sometimes referred to as a medical exam) checks a variety of health-related factors, including vital indicators such as blood pressure, heart rate, and temperature.


  • Abdominal health is used to assess the functionality of the liver, bowel, and other organs.
  • The look of the skin is used to ascertain whether there are any indications or symptoms of any underlying disorders.
  • Examination of the heart and lungs.

What is a physical for a job called?

After being given a position that requires certain physical abilities, you may be required to take a pre-placement exam, often known as a pre-employment physical or Human Performance Evaluation (HPE).

Can you fail a pre-employment physical?

Employers are required under the ADA to offer reasonable accommodations for workers who have physical disabilities. As a result, an applicant who does not satisfy the job criteria may fail the pre-employment physical.

What is a human performance evaluation?

A human performance assessment (HPE) compares an applicant's physical abilities to the physical needs of the work, assessing if the candidate is capable of safely performing the job's key functions.

Do those with disabilities have to take physical exams?

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, the physical examination must be connected to the work duties of the candidate and should be performed only after an offer of employment is made.

How should I prepare for a pre-employment physical exam?

The pre-employment physical depends on the type of job you're applying for. Physical tests can vary whether you're a cashier or a police officer.

Generally, here's how to prepare:

  • Recognize the responsibilities that will be placed upon you.
  • Cleanse your body thoroughly.
  • Avoid unhealthy practices.
  • Look into your own or your family's medical history.
  • Relax.
  • Bring medical records, prescription medication records, and more.

work physical

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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