The dreaded trial shift: Our top 10 tips for success
After the interview process is over, you might believe that the hard part of proving yourself worthy is done, right? Wrong. If you work in the hospitality industry, next up is the dreaded trial shift.
What is a trial shift?
A trial shift is where you are supervised on-the-job to see if you have the necessary skills required for the role. After all, it makes sense to test if you can 'walk-the-walk' in what might be an extremely hands-on role.
But don't worry, we've put together the top 10 tips to ensure trial shift success. We've even gathered some exclusive advice from our hospitality consultant team. All of our consultants have previously worked in the hospitality industry, so have first-hand experience in order to offer you valuable advice.
1. Arrive on time and be prepared
Plan to arrive at your trial shift at least 10 minutes before you are due to start. Arriving there early shows that you are keen to impress. However if you’re running late, make sure to ring up the premises and notify them. Also, remember to apologise for any inconvenience when you arrive. Make it clear that you understand the seriousness of your mistake, and reassure staff members that it won't be a regular occurrence if you were to start working with them.
2. Be confident in your abilities and stay calm
If you’re feeling anxious, thankfully there are techniques to calm you down. If you've previously worked in a similar role, imagine you’re covering for a staff member in your former company. You will be reassured by thinking of your trial shift as an extension of your current duties, and not as a test. If the role is completely new to you, it's likely that your assessor will know this. Therefore, as long as you willingly follow instructions and work hard, you’re likely to succeed.
Michael, our Leisure Team Leader who previously worked for Café Rouge for over 2 years, says to “Draw confidence from your previous experiences. If you exercise common sense in a situation, you are sure to handle it appropriately.”
3. Remember your manners
Good manners will always get you far. So, remember to say please and thank you to staff members and customers during your trial. Doing this demonstrates that you have a positive and friendly attitude. Also, be aware of your body language. Don’t slouch, as this can make you look tired, and don’t avoid eye contact, because this can make you seem uninterested and distant.
Will, one of our hospitality consultants, says that “Chewing gum and swearing during your trial shift is highly frowned-upon by employers. Remember to act professional at all times.”
4. Engage with people
Don’t shy away from getting involved in conversations with staff members and customers. The hospitality industry relies heavily on good customer service skills; therefore, employers will want to assess how you interact with the people around you. Ideally, they will be looking for interpersonal skills, such as empathy, active listening, and respectfulness.
Our hospitality consultant Alex spent 4 years working at QHotels. His advice is to “go around every working station and talk to the staff. Build relationships and demonstrate how you would ‘fit-in’ with the team.”
5. Make sure your work is seen
This one is common sense. There’s no point working hard on your trial, to have nobody see your efforts! If possible, describe what you have done to your assessor, and let them know your thought processes when tackling difficult situations. This will help them to understand your skills, and show them that you want to succeed.
William, one of our hospitality recruitment consultants, says to “treat your trial shift like a driving test – you must turn your head to check your mirrors, so that your driving instructor knows you’re doing so. Likewise, your trail shift assessor will want to see every detail of your work.”
6. Show willing
This is a must. There is nothing worse than wandering around aimlessly during your trial shift. Show enthusiasm and get your hands dirty. Also, don’t wait to be asked to do something. Use your initiative and complete the essential tasks that you will be expected to do daily. If you are completely unsure of what to do, there is no harm in asking another staff member for suggestions. This will show that you want to remain busy and work hard during your shifts.
7. Ask quality questions
Some people think that asking questions during a trial shift makes you seem inexperienced. However, this is not the case. Obviously, it’s probably not clever to ask about the basics of your role, as you should already have an understanding of this. However, quality questions such as “which members of staff are qualified first-aiders in the event that a staff member or customer falls ill?” shows your genuine interest in company procedures.
Chris, one of our hospitality consultants who spent 3 years working at Chiquito, says that “asking questions during your trial shift can demonstrate your confidence. It can also make your presence known to other employees.”
8. Remember, it's as much an opportunity for you as it is for the company
You should view your trial shift as an exciting challenge. After all, it’s a chance for you to show off your skills. Also, it’s a great opportunity for you to meet your new potential colleagues. Take in the atmosphere and see how you feel working for the company. If you are successful, you can then make an informed judgement as to whether to accept the job offer or not.
9. Don't clock watch
Although you may simply be 'checking the time', looking at your watch during a trial shift can be seen as rude and unprofessional. This is - of course - unless it’s a vital part of your role. For example, if you’re a chef, you need to check the time in order to prevent your dishes from spoiling. Otherwise, checking the time may appear as if you’re desperate for your shift to end. Instead, show enthusiasm, and stop working only when you’re told to do so.
10. Enjoy yourself and be positive
Whether you like the tasks you’re given to do or not, remain positive and work hard to get them done. Remember, smiling is contagious, therefore aim to bring positivity to those around you. This will make people want to work with you, and put you in good stead for getting the position. Most importantly, enjoy the experience! See everything you do as a chance to learn, and simply try your best to get the job completed to a high standard.
Now, after reading these tips, we’re sure that you’ll perform brilliantly during your trial shift.
Author: Sophie Booth, Edited by Lois Pickford