Once you’re offered a job, there’s often one more challenge before you’re a permanent staff member – the trial period. Trials can seem scary, but if you know what your goals are and what employers are looking for, the trial period is a great time to show what you’re made of. Here’s how to impress your new boss and turn your trial into a pathway to getting qualified.
What are trial periods?

When you first start a job, your employer will usually want to have you work for them on a trial basis for a few months. This means both you and your new boss can suss each other out before committing to a long-term working relationship.

During a trial period, you’ll work and get paid as normal and you should be treated the same as any other employee. But if for some reason it doesn’t work out, you or the employer can end the relationship more easily than if you were already a permanent member of staff.

Many trial periods last 90 days. They can be shorter than that, but not longer. You can find out more about how trial periods work on the employment.govt.nz website.

Getting personal

Trial periods can sound scary. But remember, you’re not expected to know everything or be super skilled in your trade.

Mostly, your employer just wants to make sure you’re reliable and have a good attitude, says MPTT navigator Shirley Murray from the Solomon Group.

“Turn up every day, have a good attitude, be drug and alcohol free, show initiative and be prepared to listen and engage.

“What we hear all the time from employers is they’d prefer tauira to have a good attitude and time management skills and be keen to learn than to have heaps of experience.

Speak up

Good communication skills can impress your boss even more than your ability in your trade.
It can feel weird at first, but it’s important to be honest and upfront about any issues you have. Even if you think your boss might not be happy about what you have to say, they’ll appreciate that you told them about it.

Here are some things you might want to talk to your boss about:

  • Let them know what your goals are (like getting an apprenticeship or being the site manager one day), and ask them for advice on how you can get there.
  • If you have family commitments you might need to take care of, like picking your kids up from daycare if they get sick, talk to your boss about it early on. That way, they won’t be caught off-guard if it happens.
  • If you have a health issue or personal circumstances that might impact your work, telling your boss about it means they can better support you in your job.
Start early

Your trial period is also a chance for the employer to consider you as a future apprentice.

An apprenticeship is more than a job. It’s an agreement between you, your employer and an apprenticeship provider, and it’s the best path to getting qualified in your trade.

The first step to getting an apprenticeship is to let your employer know that’s your goal – and you should do that as soon as possible.

Not all employers take on apprentices. That’s because having an apprentice means committing to helping them get qualified, and not all companies have the resources to do that. So Shirley says it’s a good idea to find out early on if an apprenticeship is possible.

“I recommend establishing whether there is the possibility of an apprenticeship prior to your initial interview, just in case there is not one being considered by the employer.”

That way, your employer will know you want an apprenticeship from the start and can help you work towards achieving that goal.

Keep communicating

Even if you told your employer that you’re looking for an apprenticeship when you first met with them, you might still need to remind them about it later.

Remember, your boss has a lot to think about, so it’s helpful to them if you bring up the topic rather than waiting for them to remember to talk to you about it. This also shows your initiative and enthusiasm – both qualities employers look for in an apprentice.

But you don’t have to do it alone. Your MPTT navigator and your apprenticeship provider are both there to help, says Shirley.

“Get your employer’s contact details so you can to bring that information back to your support people – such as your MPTT navigator, apprenticeship provider, or tutor. That way, they have the opportunity to talk to the employer directly on your behalf.”

You’ll find contact details for all MPTT navigators on our contact page. To get in touch with an apprenticeship provider, visit their website or ask your navigator to put you in touch with them.


Not sure who your apprenticeship provider will be? The list below shows some of the biggest providers depending on your trade:

  • BCITO (building and construction)
  • MITO (automotive)
  • Competenz (butchery, refrigeration and air conditioning, welding and fabrication)
  • Skills (electrical, plumbing and gasfitting)
  • Connexis (infrastructure)
  • HITO (hairdressing)
  • Primary ITO (horticulture and landscaping)
  • ServiceIQ (hospitality)

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE