An in-tray test is an exercise used in many admin recruitment processes, including school administrator, administrative assistants and more, because it assesses some of the key skills that you need as an administrator. If you are new to taking this type of test, you will want to get some practice in ahead of the real thing. Learn more about in-tray exercise for administrators on this page.


What skills does an in-tray exercise for administrators examine?

The in-tray exercise is looking at how well you do in certain skills. The most common skills tested with the in tray task are:

  • Organisation
  • Prioritisation
  • Working under (time) pressure
  • Managing more than one task at a time
  • Responding to messages - style, ability

What is an in-tray exercise Scenario?

An in-tray exercise example includes:

You are given a scenario based on the job you have applied for. For example, you may be told that it is your first day back at work after a two week holiday, and your inbox has piled up whilst you are away, plus your co-workers have been saving up their messages for you the whole time you were away.

You are given a series of correspondence, emails or notes to work your way through during the exercise. Your task is usually to decide what needs working on today, what can wait a little longer, and what can be passed to a colleague to help you with. The questions or tasks are job specific, asking you to prioritise tasks, including balancing the needs of your manager or managers and your role. You have limited time for your task, usually not enough time to finish, so you need to be able to identify the priorities quickly and not waste time on less important tasks.


What is the order of Operations?

Go through each item in the exercise and carry out one or more actions on them, including:

  • Prioritise for action
  • Give reasons for your decision on what to do with this item
  • Describe actions to do for this item

How can I prepare for an in-tray exercise?

Taking a practice in-tray exercise before your interview is beneficial for a number of reasons. By taking in-tray exercise practice tests you get a better understanding of what it is you need to do, which is turn increases your confidence and makes you more relaxed in your interview. Find out more about how to approach an in-tray exercise with our In Tray tips page.