I have one year working experience. Recently, I joined a new company and started my career in the position which I have skills, and experience on it. But, the employer considered 4 month probation period for me.

I always thought, that probation period means that, the employer is unsure about my qualities. Is it true?

My workplace is in Estonia, and I am a developer/tester.


8 Answers 8


Yes and they should be.

They don't know you. Probation periods are a standard in pretty much any industry. The employer wants to ensure that you are good fit for the company. This doesn't mean they doubt you, it just means they want to make sure.

Lets say you are a programmer with an amazing track record, but you frequently get into conflicts with a co-worker named Bob. They may let you go. Not because you can't do the job, but because they don't want to deal with that conflict in the work place.

Don't worry about it, everyone goes through a probation period at pretty much every job. Just do your best.

  • 17
    It also goes the other way (great with people, bad at skills): There are a lot of people who talk a good game in interviews but can't actually do the job to save their life. A probation period is by far the best way to make sure someone isn't just stringing you along. And the other other way (employee leaves voluntarily): Maybe you like the work, but you're always expected to do overtime, even if you get everything done. A probationary period is the best way to make sure that long-term employment will work out.
    – anon
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 20:34
  • 6
    Plus, in countries with a formal probationary period, it goes both ways: You can leave with very little notice. It's an opportunity for you to decide, based on day-to-day work, whether you really like the job or not. If not, you can get out without a lengthy notice period.
    – user1602
    Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 11:31
  • 2
    How about they let Bob go for once? Commented Nov 10, 2018 at 23:37
  • 1
    @Vandermonde Bob's bulletproof. Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 11:04
  • 2
    Also don't forget that you can use this period to validate the company! "Hey, welcome aboard, here's your chair, and by the way we don't have a bug tracker. Expect users to just send you an email if something's wrong." Which could be a good reason for you to leave! Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 22:16

Is it true?

I would say no, not exactly.

Usually, the main purpose of a probation period is to have a "look and feel" of the employee and the way they adapt to the Company. That way, if the employee is not fit the work relationship can be terminated without much procedures or consequences.

This is also true the other way round: It is also a good time for you to have a look and feel of the Company, to see if you both are a good fit, and for you to be able to resign without much procedures or consequences.

  • 9
    This. The company must be reasonably sure of your abilities, or they wouldn't have offered you a job. Assuming you didn't trick your way into the role, your abilities aren't what they're really trialling, more your soft-skills, your ability to fit into the existing team. And yes as @DarkCygnus says, it's also an opportunity for you to trial the company (it would be pretty terrible to take up a new job, find out on day one that you hate it, and be stuck there for X months working your notice).
    – delinear
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 17:26

I always thought, that probation period means that, the employer is unsure about my qualities. Is it true?

Yes, but that's only part of it.

Most employers who use probation periods, use them for all new employees. So the employer is unsure of your qualities, but is probably unsure of all new employees' qualities.

The other part is that a probation period is for you to be unsure of your employer's qualities.

During probation, both sides get to see if there is a good fit or not. If there is, then you get signed on as a permanent employee. If not, you both part ways amicably.

  • 1
    Temporary contracts can have probationary periods too.
    – hkBst
    Commented Nov 11, 2018 at 8:05

There is a general trend, especially in Western Europe (it depends on the country, so putting a country tag might be good; your profile says you're in Estonia, and I'm not very familiar with the culture there) for employment to be indefinite; not continuing to employ someone requires significant cause. In some jobs, there is explicit tenure, but even in jobs without it, there's often "pseudo tenure" in the sense that laying someone off is a Big Deal. This makes hiring a new employee a large risk, as even if they have experience, it's hard to know whether they'll work out. Having a probation period allows a company to see how someone does in a position while giving the employee notice that the employment doesn't have this "pseudo tenure": the employee shouldn't consider employment after that period a sure thing. Thus, they can evaluate the employee at the end of the period and lay them off if they want without it being as much of a violation of social norms.

This also allows a company to terminate the employment with less of an effect on other employees: if the other employees are past their probation period, and they see an employee in their probation period being laid off, that doesn't make them worry about their job security as much as seeing someone with the same employment status as them being laid off does.

Another factor is that companies often have perks that they don't want to give to employees until the employees have established themselves. So there may be certain benefits that aren't available, or aren't fully available, until after your probation period.

The characterization "the employer is unsure about my qualities" is true in some sense, in that they are exercising caution about a new hire, but it's doesn't necessarily mean that they have concerns specific to you; this likely is simply general practice.

  • "There is a general trend, especially in Western Europe (because) laying someone off is a Big Deal". That must be why it's (relatively) unpopular in the US.
    – RonJohn
    Commented Nov 9, 2018 at 21:57

It seems you have a quite limited perception of employer-employee dynamics.

Please let me help you a bit with that.

What is being tested is not so much "quality of employee" but "does this employee fit into our company and be able to produce for us".

This is not at all the same thing. If you have had a few jobs you would know that there exist certain companies which would be automatic misfit for a quite wide range of employee personalities (to say the least ;)

These kind of relations are always two-way. Don't forget that!


It's like the 'No questions asked 30 day return guarantee' you get on purchases. You can return the item for no better reason than 'I changed my mind'.

Very sensible to have this on an employment contract. In some territories Employment Rights virtually 'marry' employer and employee once the job is established.


A probation period is standard-fare for most companies. You can only get so much information about what an employee will be like from interviews etc. A probation period at the start of your employment is not reflective on your abilities (by definition they can't be because they don't really know you by this point), and are not nearly the same as probation periods as a result of disciplinary action.


Yup, but you may see it as evaluation period of the company culture and its ecosystem from your side.

Most companies within probation period allow you to leave immediately without notice period. So if you don’t like the company, walk away.

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