Gen United

6 Things To Check On Your Trial Shift

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So, you’ve smashed the interview and been asked to come in for a trial shift. Amazing!

Potential employers love job trials because they can see how you work. It’s not just about them though – trial shifts can also be good for you because you can test out if you want to work there.   

But before you start your trial, there are a few things you really should check first.  

Here’s a list of things to ask before – and during – your trial shift.   

1. WILL YOU GET PAID FOR THE TRIAL SHIFT AND HOW LONG WILL IT GO FOR? 

Technically employers can ask for a free trial. BUT – it should only last as long as it takes to show you how to do the job. And, you need to be supervised the entire time.   

For example, if you’re a cocktail bartender and you’re asked to come in and whip up a few martinis for an hour or two while the manager watches your mad skills in action –that’s ok.  

But!… if you’re left on your own for an 8-hour shift on a Saturday night, it’s actually not legal. And unfortunately, this happens ALL THE TIME.   

It’s important you have the pay conversation upfront, even if it’s tough.   

We spoke to an experienced hospitality worker, Grace Dowling, who says, “a boss that’s going to do the right thing is going to answer you. A boss that’s going to do the wrong thing is probably going to say ‘Whoah! Why are we asking about money?’.” 

a barista works a coffee machine as another looks on

2. WHAT’S THE WORKLOAD LIKE?

Want to check if the workload is going to be fair? You can always try to visit the workplace before your trial, maybe as a customer (if that’s possible). Not only will you see how busy it gets, but it’ll also give you an idea of the place beforehand, so you can feel more confident before you start your trial.  

cafe staff cleaning a tray

3. WHAT’S THE STAFF TURNOVER? 

Have you seen jobs at this workplace advertised a lot? This can be a pretty bad sign. Or if you get to your job trial and realise that everyone there is also new. If it’s not a completely new business, this could also be a sign that things aren’t quite right. 

Shop sever behind counter in coffee shop

4. DO THE STAFF SEEM HAPPY? 

Once you’re at your job trial, make sure you chat to the rest of the crew to see how they like working there. Do they generally seem happy and are people getting along?  

Here are some red flags to look out for:    

  • Are the different teams in it and working together?  
  • Is there lots of gossip?   
  • Do some of the staff get treated badly depending on their role?  


Or the ultimate red flag – is there someone crying in the back room? Hospo worker Grace Dowling said this can be more common than you’d like to think. 
 

“I had a workplace where you’d go in into the storeroom to cry and someone would always be in there crying and you’d tag out,” she told us. Eek!  

3 chefs prepare food in a commercial kitchen

5. HOW DOES THE BOSS TREAT THE STAFF? 

When you’re on your trial shift, watch carefully how the staff are treated by management.  

You could also take note of:   

  • Is their Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) policy in action (eg, do they have trolleys for kegs, are there tripping hazards, etc) ? 
  • Will one person ever be left to close up on their own at the end of the day or night?   
  • Do you get the right coffee and meal breaks?   

 
You definitely wanna know you’re going to be looked after, before you start the job.  

barista pouring milk into coffee cup

6. GET TO KNOW YOUR RIGHTS 

Find out your award rate (you can do that here) and make sure any potential employer is offering you the right pay-rate.  

Not sure where to find out about this stuff? Easy – ask your union.  

(Not a member yet? Join here).

2 women look over a point of sale in cafe
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