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How to Pass Your Probation Period at Work: 8 Tips for Success

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How to Pass Your Probation Period at Work: 8 Tips for Success

Starting a new job often comes with an initial evaluation phase — the probation period. This timeframe is pivotal to your success within your new role.

That's why we've pulled together a guide on what the probation period is, how long it lasts and tips on how to pass it with flying colours. We'll also answer frequently asked questions so you can navigate this phase with confidence and success.


  • What is a probation period?

  • How long is a probation period?

  • How to pass your probation period at work

  • What to avoid during your probation period

  • Frequently asked questions

What is a probation period?

A probation period is a trial period at the beginning of employment for the employer to see if you're a good fit for the role. It's also an opportunity for you to get a feel for the job and the company's expectations. During this time, both sides can decide if they want to continue working together based on how things are going.

How long is a probation period?

The probation period typically spans one, three, or six months.

A one or three-month probation is often chosen for roles that are relatively straightforward or require less time to assess an employee's performance and fit. A six-month probation period is usually designated for more complex roles, like managers, that require additional time to evaluate the employee's skills and adaptability.

This trial period generally doesn't last longer than six months unless there's a specific reason.

How to pass your probation period at work

  1. Understand what’s expected of you

Before you start working, make sure you're crystal clear about what your job entails and what the company expects from you. For example, if you're a social media manager, you'll want to know if your employer expects daily posts and reporting on engagement metrics. 

Understanding these specifics helps you align your efforts with the company's goals and ensures you're on the right track from day one. 

  1. Ask for feedback 

Don't be afraid to ask for feedback on your work. You can even ask your manager to highlight areas that might benefit from improvement. Not only will you learn how to do things better, but requesting feedback shows your commitment to growth and willingness to adapt. 

Just remember to be professional and take all feedback on board — even negative! It highlights that you can handle constructive criticism and use it to your advantage, making a great impression early on. 

  1. Build relationships with your peers

Building connections with your colleagues is vital during your probation period, as these are people you'll probably be working with every day. Plus, some managers can ask your peers about your performance, so you'll want to make a good impression.

Here are some tips to help you foster meaningful relationships with your colleagues: 

  • Offer to help — Whether it's sharing ideas on a project or assisting with tasks, offering a helping hand shows you're a team player. This helps foster a sense of camaraderie and mutual support. 

  • Ask about their role — Show interest in your colleagues' work by asking about their roles and responsibilities. This demonstrates that you value their expertise and are curious about how they contribute to the team's success.

  • Find similar interests — Discover common hobbies or interests outside of work. Sharing activities you both enjoy can provide great conversation starters and strengthen your bond.

  1. Ask questions 

While you're getting the hang of things during your probation, don't hesitate to ask questions when needed. It not only prevents potential mistakes, but also showcases your proactive approach to understanding your role and responsibilities. 

Just try not to ask the same questions repeatedly, as your manager might think you've not been paying attention.

  1. Volunteer for tasks 

Whether it's pitching in with tasks, using your skills in another department, or networking, volunteering shows your eagerness to go beyond your responsibilities.
Look out for opportunities that match your skills and interests so you can showcase your value. But remember, there's no point in taking on something way out of your comfort zone — it could end up impacting your performance and the quality of your work.

Of course, lending a hand is great, but don't go overboard and overwhelm yourself by putting too much on your plate. It's important that you strike a balance to maintain your effectiveness in your primary role. Besides, that's what you've been hired to do! 

  1. Show confidence

Showcasing confidence in your abilities can have a powerful impact. When you have confidence in yourself, it shines through in your work and interactions. It not only boosts your own morale but also instils trust in your colleagues and manager.

Here's how you can show confidence:

  • Own your contributions — Take pride in your work and acknowledge your accomplishments. When you confidently recognise your contributions, others are more likely to recognise them as well.

  • Voice your ideas —Don't shy away from sharing your insights during discussions or meetings. Your contributions and unique perspective matter, so expressing them confidently can increase your team's success.

  • Maintain positive body language —Standing tall, making eye contact, and offering a firm handshake leave a lasting impression and contribute to effective communication.

By projecting confidence, you not only boost your chances of succeeding in your probation but also set a positive tone for your entire professional journey. Remember, it's not about being perfect; it's about embracing your strengths and demonstrating your capability.

  1. Practice time management

Once you've started to adjust to your new job and routine, begin to practice time management. Creating a list of tasks and setting achievable goals for each day or week keeps you organised and focused on your priorities. This can prevent you from becoming overwhelmed, enhancing your productivity.

When you consistently meet deadlines and complete tasks efficiently, you build a reputation for reliability and dedication.

  1. Measure your progress

During your probation period, keep track of any achievements, milestones, and areas where you've shown improvement. You could jot this down in a notebook or use a digital spreadsheet. 

This self-evaluation not only helps you stay accountable for your development but also shows your willingness to learn and adapt. When it comes to the end of your probation, you have a record of your achievements to show your boss to highlight your value.

What to avoid during your probation period

Constantly checking your phone

If you're glued to your phone all day when you should be working, it may be perceived as a lack of focus or commitment to your role. Plus, you'll never get anything done! 

Leaving early 

Although your workload may be a little lighter during your first few months, as you're getting used to the job, it's not an excuse to slack off. Your probation is a crucial time to show enthusiasm and build relationships with your team, so consistently leaving early might hinder your chances of showcasing your value and potential.

Overcommitting to tasks 

While volunteering for tasks is encouraged, overcommitting can lead to burnout and compromise the quality of your work. Try to strike a balance between eagerness and realistic capabilities.

Frequently asked questions

Why do people fail their probation period?

The most common reasons for a failed probation include: 

  • Absence — Consistent or prolonged absences can significantly impact your chances of successfully completing your probation. While unforeseen illnesses or personal emergencies can come up, extended absences may hinder your progress and create gaps in your contributions. It may also send the message that you're not fully committed to your role.

  • Lack of communication — Lack of communication or failure to seek guidance can lead to misunderstandings. When you don't reach out for advice or clarify things, it can hold you back from excelling in your role and working well with the team.

  • Missing deadlines —Consistently falling behind on deadlines can signal a lack of time management skills and commitment to the role. 

  • Feedback neglect — Ignoring or dismissing feedback prevents growth and improvement, impacting your ability to excel.

  • Negative attitude —A persistently negative attitude can sour team dynamics and reduce overall productivity. It affects not only your performance, but also influences the team's morale and performance.

How long is the notice period when on probation?

Typically, the notice period is shorter during your probation period, lasting anywhere from a week to a month. This allows both you and your employer to assess the fit and performance within the role. However, according to GOV.UK, you must give at least a week's notice if you've been in a job for over a month. 

It's best to check your employment contract so you have a clear idea of what to expect. 

What happens if my probation period is extended?

If your probation period is extended, it's not the end of the world. In fact, it's quite common and can happen for various reasons. Your employer might need more time to thoroughly assess your performance, offer additional training, or accommodate days you've been off sick. 

Look at it as an opportunity to continue proving yourself and addressing any areas of improvement. You should communicate openly with your manager to understand the reasons behind the extension and what's expected from you. 

What happens after my probation period?

Once your probation period comes to an end, you'll usually have a meeting scheduled with your manager. This is an opportunity to reflect on your journey so far, discuss your performance, and potentially set new goals for your ongoing development.

And if you've successfully completed your probation period, you're officially a confirmed member of the team! This usually comes with certain benefits, like access to company perks, entitlements, and a sense of stability. 

You've proven your skills and fit within the organisation, which sets the stage for further growth and opportunities. Your manager will likely have a conversation with you to discuss your performance and potentially set new goals for your continued development. 

What if I don’t pass my probation?

While not passing your probation can be disappointing, it's important to see it as a chance to learn and grow. Don't hesitate to ask for feedback so you can improve in your next job.

Your employer might discuss areas where improvement was needed and provide guidance for your development. It's a good opportunity to rethink your career goals, gain insights, and explore roles that suit your strengths better.

Remember, setbacks happen to everyone, and using this experience to propel yourself toward future success is what truly matters.

To learn more, read our guide on how to handle job rejection. Or, to get off to a great start in your next role, read our 10 top tips for starting a new job successfully

Excel in your role with Forward Role

Your probation period is an opportunity for growth and learning, and at Forward Role, we're here to support you every step of the way. Check out our job seeker FAQ page to find out more.

For more expert tips for succeeding in your career, read our blog. Or contact our experts at Forward Role. We're well-equipped to connect top-notch candidates with cutting-edge digital and tech companies all over the UK.