how to rise to the challenge in your probation period

Man smiling while sitting behind his desk, computer screens displaying programming code.
Man smiling while sitting behind his desk, computer screens displaying programming code.

You got the job!

But now’s not the time to rest on your laurels – here’s what to do in the first three months of your new gig.

Starting a new job can be nerve-wracking.

There’s a lot to learn and many people to meet, and you want to set yourself up for ongoing success. In reality, the first three months of any new job are like an extension of the interview process – from day one, you need to be on your game.

follow these top tips to ensure you get off on the right foot.


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the week before you start

Now’s the time to do any research you missed in the interview stage. Find out everything you can about the organisation – its history, core values and aspirations for the future.

Consider how your experience will help the company achieve its goals and have relevant knowledge on hand – including your new job description and key focus areas.

Use the time to ensure you’ve got everything set up from a system and workflow perspective, and begin introductions with key internal stakeholders.

the first day

Sure, you’ll need to know where the stationery cupboard is, but what’s more important is to show you’re keen and begin to get your head around internal processes and expectations.

Be proactive and ask lots of questions – it’s a fast-paced industry, so there might not be time for one-on-one meet and greets.

Take the opportunity to introduce yourself where you can and begin with the people around you, they’ll be your closest allies, and it’s in their best interest to get to know you, too, as your work will directly affect theirs.

Once you’ve made a few connections, use them to find out who the key players are and who’s been at the company the longest.

Aligning yourself with a veteran with a good history with the company is a good move – they’ll show you how things work and can offer some insight into office politics.

the first month

Use the first month to set expectations with your manager. Taking the time to establish a 90-day plan with them is an excellent move.

Use this face-to-face time to outline what success looks like in the first, second and third months – this way, you’re setting yourself up for a strong result during your three-month probation.

Ensure all key areas are addressed promptly, being wary of including induction items.

In your first month, demonstrating you can add value and suggesting new ideas or more efficient ways of doing things within an organisation will certainly assist in building credibility and relationships with peers and internal stakeholders.

If you’re in a managerial position, you should also establish expectations with your direct reports within the first month, covering everything from communication style to office hours.

your three-month probation

If you’ve followed the advice above, you should be well on your way to passing probation with flying colours – but don’t get ahead.

Come prepared by asking your manager to review your key performance indicators and set new ones for the next quarter.

Have some feedback and critical questions ready to discuss and real examples as to how you’ve set out to accomplish the goals discussed during your induction period.

Preparation is essential – they’ll always be able to tell if you’re winging it.

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about the author

Andrew McKissock

account director – banking & financial services, talent solutions

I am a motivated business professional committed to my craft, with 20 years of experience working in the Financial Services industry across specialist executive recruitment & HR consulting, client account management & operational management role.