Work trials – Insights from employers

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Employers use work trials to decide whether a job seeker has the skills to do the job and to make sure they will fit in with the team.

What should I expect during a work trial?

  • Some work trials are paid and others are unpaid.
  • An unpaid work trial should only last a short period (usually a 1-2 hour shift). Unpaid work trials should only be long enough for the employer to confirm you have the right skills to do the job. There are rules around when an employer is allowed to host job seekers through an unpaid work trial. More information is available in our article What is a work trial and when is it okay?.
  • Paid work trials can go for longer than unpaid trials - usually 1-2 full shifts.

What do employers look for during work trials?

The Australian Government surveyed employers about what they look for when conducting work trials and what job seekers can do to stand out.

Employers said they use a work trial to determine the following skills and traits:

  • Punctuality. They want to see that you are reliable and will turn up on time.
  • Personal presentation. They will review how well your clothes and general appearance match their workplace.
  • Your general personality and attitude. They want to find out about you and your personality. They want to see that you are friendly, have a positive attitude and are willing to learn.
  • Communication and listening skills. Employers will want to see how well you communicate with others, including customers and team members, and how well you can follow instructions
  • How you perform under pressure. Employers want to confirm that you can stay calm and in control even when things are stressful or busy.

How can I use this information?

Now that you know what employers are looking for, you can use your work trial to make a good impression and show them you are the right person for the job.

Tips for preparing for a work trial:

  • Research the employer. If you have been asked to come in for a work trial, always research the employer prior to the day. Consider things like what they do, what their workplace culture is like and what they look for in workers. For more information read our article How to research employers.
  • Dress the part. Use your knowledge of the employer to present well so you make a great first impression. Make sure you have the right gear for the job and are wearing appropriate clothing and shoes. You can take your lead from others in the workplace. For more information, check our article on Personal presentation.
  • Find out if you will be paid. When accepting a request for a work trial, it’s ok to ask whether you will be paid for your time. It’s also a good idea to learn about your Workplace rights and responsibilities to ensure you know your rights.

You can also check out the below infographic for more information.

More resources to help you