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Preparing for a probation review that’ll impress the boss

You’ve made it to the end of your probation period, nearly. All that stands in your way to career superstardom is the dreaded end of probation review.

They can feel like a step into the unknown. Depending on how long your probation period is, you may still feel like a newbie who’s just learning the ropes. And yet, you’re about to go through your own mini-performance review with the boss.

It’s a daunting final step before you get to toss your L-plates and rest a little easier about job security.

To make preparing for your probation review easier for you, we’ve pulled together some useful tips. These will help you make sure you go in calm, collected and ready to rock.

Read the job description

Before your probation review, it’s really important to go over the job description again. In doing so you’ll get a clearer idea of what your manager might look to ask during the session.

When reading through, pull out the most frequently used terms or points in the description. Then, think about how you’ve performed against these points. How are you meeting the job criteria? What exposure to these elements of the job have you had so far?

As such, you’ll have a strong list of talking points to go through during the probation review with your manager. You’ll also enter the review with a better idea of what you’re being assessed on in your role.

You may even spot some glaring discrepancies between how the job was described and what your experience has been. Be sure to make a note about raising any questions around this during the meeting.

Review your work

Once you’ve reread the job description, the next step to take in preparing for a probation review, is looking over your work.

Focus on three key questions that almost always come up in every probation review:

  • What have you enjoyed working on?
  • Is there anything you haven’t enjoyed working on?
  • What have you learned so far?

Also think about if there is anything you were hoping or expecting to have worked on that you haven’t yet. And while we wouldn’t suggest reviewing a single piece of work in too much detail, consider challenges you faced when completing work and think up some potential solutions for next time they crop up.

Speak to your colleagues

It’s always a great idea to canvass other people for their opinions, especially when it comes to your work performance. We can become a bit blinkered to our own performance at work, so a fresh perspective is always useful.

Your peers and co-workers will likely have plenty to say about how you come across, work, collaborate and communicate with them. Ask your peers for feedback. You’ll build a more-rounded view of yourself and you’ll likely get a good idea of what your manager might say too.

Just remember that by inviting feedback, you may get some critical pointers aimed to help you develop. Take these as the useful and important pieces of feedback they’re meant as. Don’t take anything shared personally.

Reflect on what you’ve learned

On another note, you should use your end of probation review prep time to reflect on, and potentially discuss with colleagues, what you’ve learned in the position.

Note down any training you benefited from and be ready to let your manager know your reasons for this. Here, your meeting will become more productive because you’ll be discussing how you like to learn, and the kind of information you’re able to take in.

Also consider how well you’ve picked up company procedures, IT systems and integrated yourself parts of the company culture. By discussing what you’ve learned, you will also demonstrate your increasing value to the company.

Consider whether or not the job has met your expectations

We’d recommend using your end of probation review to discuss if the job’s met your expectations. So, when preparing for the probation review, put some thought into this.

How did you imagine the role when you first saw it? What about when you interviewed? On your first day? Now?

During the review speak with your manager about how your expectations are being met or missed. This is vital information for your manager – a great manager will want there to be alignment for you.

You should also discuss how the job meets your desired career path. Be honest. Tell them if there’s anything you expected more or less of. Again, your manager should look to help if needed and able.

From here you’ll be able to determine how well the things benefit you and the employer. Also, revealing any concerns or issues diplomatically during your probation review means your manager might be able to resolve these quickly.

Ensure you receive appropriate feedback

You’ll get more out of your end of probation review if you receive feedback that will actually help you progress.

During your preparation, think about where and how your manager can help support you. What guidance can they offer that will help you to grow? Do you want feedback on a particular topic? Or perhaps you want feedback in a particular way?

In the review, ask for your manager’s thoughts on a few key areas. These might include:

  • How well you’ve picked up your duties and where you can improve
  • Evaluate the speed at which you’re taking to the job
  • Whether or not they can see sticking points in your work that you might be missing

By generating clear and actionable feedback during your probation meeting, both parties will be able to identify areas for improvement. You’ll also gain a better view of how your manager rates your suitability for the job.

Have an honest think about any areas you are struggling with

Nobody likes talking about where they are struggling. But during the probation review, you have a brilliant opportunity to nip issues in the bud and get invaluable support early.

If you’re struggling with any aspects of your role, you should speak to your manager about this. So, when preparing for a probation review, sit down and think about anywhere you have struggled, whether that’s on specific projects, with the workload, or even finding your way around the building.

Talking about challenges achieves two things; it helps to create an open relationship with your manager, as well as gives you a chance to ask for help.

Think of anything you’re not as clued up on and tell your manager what you’d like to go over again. If there’s a specific way you’d want to revise this part of the job, say so.

Clarify how you see yourself progressing within the company

The best part of an end of probation review is that, as long as you’ve made a good start with the company, you’ll get an idea of how you can progress internally.


So, when preparing for your review, think about your career progression. What do you want to achieve over the next 6 months? Where do you want to be in 2 years? How about 5? Wherever you want to be, build up a clear picture of what that looks like.

From there, your manager should help you to plan a route and set some personal goals to achieve to progress in the right direction.

Go out and enjoy your probation review

As any good scout knows, preparation is the key to success in any endeavour. It's no different when it comes to preparing for a probation review.

By reflecting and planning what you’d like to say and cover in a probation review, you maximise the impact the session can have on you. Focus on the job you’ve done so far, where you’d like to go next and how you are going to get there.

Be honest and open with your manager – it’s more than likely they will help you more if they feel you are open with them.

Above all else, enjoy your probation review. And whatever the outcome, best. Of luck with your career.