10 Tips for Trial Shift Success

You made a killer jobseeker profile, you applied for some jobs and…congratulations! You’ve got yourself a trial shift! But how do you give your best to this stage in the application process? We’re here to help.

A trial shift is a common part of the recruitment process for employers within the service industry. Essentially, you’ll be invited to the venue to work, usually for an hour or two, where you are supervised on-the-job to see if you have the necessary skills required for the role.

Trial shifts are a golden opportunity for businesses to see you in action, and for you to get a feel of what it’s like to work there. We’re giving you our 10 top tips for leaving a great impression during your trial shift!

1. Get a good night’s sleep

It’s been said often, but for good reason. Not only because preparation will make your answers stronger, but it will help you if you’re nervous because you won’t be totally improvising.

2. Be early

Rule of thumb – if you’re on time, you’re actually 10 minutes late! Always aim to arrive a few minutes before the trial shift is set to start. That way you have extra time to get settled, go to the toilet, etc.

Make sure to leave enough time for travel and for finding the place if you’ve never been there before. Handy tech hack – use Google Street View to know just where to find it!

3. Dress presentably

The first impression you’ll make is the way you’re dressed when you walk through the door.

Our tip is to ask what the dress code is in advance! Typically, smart casual is the safest option unless the establishment is very high-end. Avoid ripped or sports clothing or items with lots of graphic print. Plain and simple might sound boring, but there’s very little that can go wrong with it!

It’s worth also wearing a well-fitting pair of shoes as you’ll likely be on your feet for most of the shift, and you’re likely to perform better if you feel comfortable.

Remember, they may give you a uniform for your trial shift, so be prepared to change clothes if needed.

4. Do a little stalking!

Research into what the business does and what qualities they look for in new employees, which you can then try to convey during your shift.

You can find this information on: our brand pages e.g. Bar+Block, Paddy Power and more, via our ‘Get To Know Us’ quizzes e.g. ‘Pub Quiz: Who is Metropolitan Pub Company?’, their website, their social media or even by visiting in person and taking a look around.

If it’s a hospitality venue, have a look at their menu to get an idea for what food or drink they serve. You might one day be expected to memorise it.

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5. Be humble

Confidence is a great quality, but don’t walk in like you already know everything – the best starters are those who understand they have much to learn.

So work hard to follow instructions as best as you can and try to work well with others. Ask questions about anything you’re unsure of while being mindful of others’ priorities.

Most importantly, respect everybody there – senior staff, the team, customers and anyone else you may come across. Treat people as you wish to be treated – so you should also expect respect from them!

6. Be friendly

In some businesses, this is the #1 trait employers will be looking for! While everyone wants to hire someone who’s pleasant to work with, in industries such as hospitality, retail or telecommunications, it’s an essential part of the job.

So be friendly with staff and customers alike. A great first step is to introduce yourself to everyone when you arrive with a warm smile.

7. Take initiative

If you were to have this job, there may be times when you’re left on your own with no one telling you what to do. When this happens, you’ll still be expected to be contributing your share of effort.

So always, always look for something to do. A trial shift is not for standing there waiting for something to happen (unless you’re told to do just that). If you don’t know something, find out. If you seem to have nothing to do, then ask a team member or senior staff what you can help with – there is almost always something that needs doing!

Use quiet periods to ask questions! It shows interest in the business and many would be glad to talk about their job or the site. It’s in these informal chats where you may glean the most insight into what it’s like to work there, which can help you decide if this place is for you!

Employers tend to look for those who are proactive, often even more so than experience level. So even if you have no experience, if you show you’re keen and take initiative you’ll be sure to leave a great impression.

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8. Portray confidence

Employers are looking to see if you can move with a sense of confidence and competence. Don’t worry – you don’t need to know everything about the job to do that! Although if you want a heads up, you can always take a look at our ‘Get To Know The Role’ quizzes on the Placed App.

Even when things go wrong, keeping a level head will do you much better than panicking. So if you encounter a problem: pause, take a breath and assess what the best way to handle the situation is, even if that means go getting help.

9. Strive to leave a positive impact

It will go an extra mile if you try to build relationships during your shift, with both customers and other members of staff. Be polite, willing and helpful. You want to send the message that the business would be easier run if you were there! Whether that’s because you always try to help the team, are quick on your feet or you’ve got great vibes and make people feel good!

10. Try to relax!

Don’t beat yourself up if you make mistakes – every service worker has absolutely made mistakes, even big ones, in the early days of their job. It’s part of the process! So if you do make a mistake, do not despair! Someone out there has probably done worse.

While these tips are aimed at helping you ace your trial shift, remember that this is also a chance to see whether YOU like the feel of the business. Did you enjoy your time there? Did you feel it played to your strengths or that it’d teach you the skills you’re looking for? If yes, these are good signs that the job is a good fit for you, and if it’s a good fit for you, all the more likely you’re a good fit for them too!