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A pre-employment physical exam is an important part of the hiring process for many companies. During this exam, potential employees are assessed to ensure they are physically and mentally capable of safely performing the essential job duties.

This blog will explore what to expect during a pre-employment exam and provide some common question examples you may encounter.

Medical History Questions

One of the first parts of the exam will involve collecting the applicant’s medical history. The healthcare professional conducting the exam will likely ask questions about past or current health issues, surgeries, hospitalizations, and medications.

Some common medical history questions include:

  1. Do you have any ongoing medical conditions like diabetes, heart disease, asthma, etc.?
  2. Have you ever had any major illnesses or injuries?
  3. Have you ever had any surgeries? If so, what was the procedure and date?
  4. What medications do you currently take?
  5. Do you have any allergies to medications?
  6. Do you or anyone in your family have a history of certain conditions?

Physical Examination Questions

In addition to collecting the medical history, the examiner will perform a physical examination. During this part, they may ask descriptive questions to gain more insight.

Some examples include:

  1. When was your last routine doctor’s visit? What were the results?
  2. Have you noticed any changes in your vision, hearing, strength, endurance, etc.?
  3. Have you noticed any lumps, bumps, or swelling on your body?
  4. Where does it hurt, or are you experiencing any discomfort?
  5. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your pain level?
  6. How would you describe changes in your symptoms over time?

Lifestyle Questions

Lifestyle factors like diet, exercise, substance use, and stress levels can impact health and safety on the job. As such, examiners may ask questions in this area, too — for example:

  1. How would you describe your overall diet and nutrition?
  2. What is your daily activity and exercise routine like?
  3. Do you smoke, drink alcohol, or use any other substances? If so, how much and how often?
  4. How do you deal with stress and pressure?
  5. Has work, family responsibilities, or life events negatively impacted your health lately?

Job-Specific Scenario Questions

Questions may also be tailored specifically to the job requirements and essential duties. For positions with safety-sensitive or physically demanding roles, examiners could ask scenario-based questions such as:

  1. How would you lift, carry, or move a 50-pound box safely by yourself?
  2. What steps would you take if a coworker suffered a minor injury on the job?
  3. How would you respond if tasked with working overtime or long hours on multiple occasions?
  4. What safety protocols would you follow when using hazardous equipment or chemicals?
  5. What accommodations might you need to fully perform all job tasks?

Condition-Specific Questions

If an examiner notes a disclosed or newly diagnosed medical condition, they may ask follow-up questions to better understand management and limitations. For example:

  1. When was your last asthma attack, and what triggered it?
  2. What is your target blood sugar range for diabetes, and how do you monitor it?
  3. How does your back pain impact daily activities, and have you ever had physical restrictions?
  4. What side effects have you experienced from your medications?

Closing Questions

At the end of the exam, a few final questions help summarize the next steps:

  1. Do you have any other concerns or issues we haven’t discussed?
  2. Is there anything else you think we should know about your health for this job?
  3. What other tests or referrals will be needed before making an evaluation?
  4. When can we expect your test results and medical clearance determination?


Pre-employment physical exams aim to help both job candidates and employers by establishing transparency around an individual’s health and abilities prior to hiring.

With preparation and open dialogue during questioning, these exams need not be anxiety-provoking – they simply work to promote workplace safety, performance, and longevity in a new role.

Understanding what to expect can ease any nerves, so candidates enter the process feeling informed and ready to highlight their overall suitability for the job.

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