How to pass your probation

How to pass your probation

6 tips on how to approach your probation

That time has approached, the end of your probation period is here. Most companies will have a set procedure for this so you won't have to worry, others however will be more laid back about it and it is these circumstances you should be more prepared.

When joining a company, it is normal practice to be issued goals that have SMART performance measures or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. Your goals are what you will need to work towards during your first few months and up until your probationary period is over, unless your goals are reviewed. If you did not receive any such document or have any discussions like this with your boss then it may be difficult to review your performance as there is nothing to judge against.

You should not be in any doubt about your performance. A good manager will offer you advice and tips to help you achieve your goals. If you are in doubt then you could be working for one of those more laid back companies. In this case be proactive to ensure that you have ticked all the boxes and have done everything that you were required to do. If you have not been able to achieve the goals set out for you, the best approach is to be honest and present the reasons for why you haven't been able to do so.

Here are six tips to help you get through this crucial process.

Plan a meeting

You must make sure that you have a meeting booked in with your boss to discuss your probation review. Ideally you should not allow this to linger on much after the due date. Your probation period is up and it needs confirmation as to whether the employer wants to continue with your services and issue you confirmation of this or you part company.


Before the meeting you should have done some preparation; you may have been asked to fill in a self-assessment form which you should complete and take with you. This is your opportunity to present compelling evidence that your performance has met expectations.

If goals and objectives were given to you then you need to know what these are be able to explain how you successfully achieved them or outline which you have not and why. While it may be acceptable during the first few months not to have achieved all goals, particularly if these are set for the year, you should at least have answers to what progress you have made or good reasons why they have not started.

Using data and statistics to support your arguments is a great way to demonstrate your skills and be accurate about what you have and have not been able to achieve, as well as help you propose changes you would make going forward.

Peer feedback

Peer feedback prior to your meeting is always useful. If your colleagues like you they may give you some tips too; after all they will have been through a similar process. If the feedback has been positive then this is always a good sign that you have settled into the company and the culture well.

Your best source of information will be your immediate superior who has observed and rated your work performance during the probationary period. Before the meeting you should check with them to make sure you have everything prepared.

Attending the meeting

Be early, be sharp; be smart. Don’t forget your reviewer will have been thinking in depth about how you have performed during the probationary months. It is most unlikely that they will have come unprepared.

If there are areas they are concerned about, not sure about or simply don’t know because they have not worked that closely with you, it is possible they may extend your probation period. This is not ideal but not a disaster. You still have time to prove your worth so be prepared that this may happen, its more common than you think.

Be professional

Always be professional no matter how the review goes. Be polite and accepting of feedback. Answer questions and demonstrate your value in a positive way. Give good reasons why some things have not been achieved and good explanations of those things that have been achieved well. Use testimonials where necessary so that your reviewer can easily observe how well you have performed in some areas and how easily you have settled in. No boss wants to break team dynamics for the sake of it.

Accept the decision

You should accept whatever the decision is with good grace. If you do not get through probation then treat this as a learning curve for the next role. Be tolerant, calm and remain professional as you will need their references. It is always best to keep on good terms with your employers.

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