6 signs that you may be failing your probation period

By Robert Half on 2 November 2021
Estimated Read Time: 4 minutes

In effect, every new employee in Australia is on probation.

Keeping that in mind, play it safe… take it as an opportunity to prove you are an asset.

Under Australian employment law, your new manager may decide on the timeframe involved. It can range from just a few weeks through to a 3 month probation or even 6 month probation period commencing from the start date of your employment.

As the probation period can be a vulnerable time, avoid the six traps below that new employees can fall into during a time when make a good first impression counts.

1. Don’t make special requests

If you haven’t had a holiday for three years, that’s your problem.

Unless there really is a family emergency or major health issue, do not take sick days or apply for leave, transfers or anything else out of the ordinary until your period of probation is over.

Related: Ultimate guide to passing your probation period

2. Don’t take on the boss – about anything

Your probation period is not the right time to assert your rights or challenge management’s decisions.

While you shouldn't feel underpowered to offer your voice, if you feel the need to question something, do so in a professional manner.

3. Don’t get involved in office politics

It’s easy to find yourself taking sides and expressing opinions about the inevitable conflicts and divisions within a workplace. Don’t do it.

Your job is to be Switzerland – completely neutral on all issues – because you never know who you might be upsetting.

Related: Tips for starting a new job

4. Don’t talk politics, religion, gender or any other controversial topics

Save these discussions for your friends and family if you need to have them.

Don't bring them into the workplace, especially during your probation period. Concentrate on topics that relate to your job or industry.

5. Don’t white-ant your peers

This is not the time to start competing for that promotion.

Just do your job well and wait until both feet are in the pool before trying to swim to the top.

6. Don’t break the rules

Do not use work time for social media, to take or make personal phone calls or to make comments about your work/peers/boss on social media.

Don’t show up late or under the influence, refuse to follow instructions, gossip about peers, steal, lie, engage in any form of harassment, or pretend you know or can do more than is true.


When it comes to making a good first impression during your probation, here are some simple tips to follow:

Put your best foot forward

Do your job to the best of your ability and do whatever it takes to gain the skills you need. Don't be afraid to ask question or clarification to make sure you understand procedures well.

Turn up a little early, leave a little late and give every indication that you are a worthwhile investment and a positive hire.

Related: How to plan your career

Get to know your work mates

It’s not just your skills and competence that people are assessing during your probation period but also your ability to work with the team.

Take some time to get to know them and get along with your fellow employees – their opinion of you will matter in the long run.

Know what’s expected of you during the probation period

Don’t just wing it – ask your boss for key performance indicators (KPIs), a full job description, regular feedback and someone to mentor you into the role.

The more responsibility you take for getting it right, the better you look to the higher-ups.

Related: How to plan your career progression

Don't underestimate the importance of the probation period

While you your resume, job interview and acceptance offer may have gone smoothly with your new employer, the probation period the critical phase to prove that you can accomplish everything you have previously discussed.

Take these tips on board and you'll find that your probation period will be a breeze to secure this job opportunity.

Learn from Robert Half’s expert recruiters so you can build a talented team of employees or advance your career. Operating in over 300 locations worldwide, our recruitment firm in Melbourne, can provide you with assistance where and when you need it.

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