In-tray exercises are aimed at assessing three main skills in particular: time management, prioritisation, and organisation.
In-tray exercises simulate real-life workplace situations. You are asked to take the role of one of the employees in a fictitious company, usually in the role you are applying to. You are provided with documents portraying the company's profile and given different tasks simulating a typical work day. You might be told, for instance, that you have just returned to the office after a week's absence and must go through e-mails and memos, return phone calls and complete multiple tasks.
Tasks include ranking documents in order of urgency or priority. In some tests you are also asked to describe the actions you would take, or explain why you have chosen this priority or action.
The in-tray exercise is a very different test to many of the other tests that you will take during your recruitment process or at an assessment centre. You are tested on a range of skills including:
In-Tray exercises may be an important part of the recruitment process for many professions who require you to be strong on the skills listed above. On the following pages we look at In-Tray exercises for administrators and deputy heads in more detail.
In some recruitment processes the in-tray exercise has been replaced by an e-tray exercise. Although the names are similar, the style of exercise and tasks usually differ. In an in-tray exercise you are provided with hard copies of the documents you need to work with. Additionally, you may face an assessor who will want to discuss your behaviour and reactions on the test.
E-tray exercises, on the other hand, provide an online computerised simulation. As a result, the testing environment is different, as are the style of questions and tasks you are required to perform.
Some of these exercises involve a case study analysis and a written exercise. This means you will have to analyse data that was gathered for you, extract important data and deduce accordingly. This may also require you to write a formal letter with your insights and recommendations regarding the issue.
JobTestPrep’s in-tray preparation pack is interactive, allowing you to actively experience in-tray exercises, with additional theoretical reading material to offer you a comprehensive understanding of the exercise and a complete test preparation. Our tests can be practised under a time limit, and you can repeat each test as many times you need. At the end of each practice you receive a score report to help you analyse your performance and improve. The pack also contains detailed explanations for each question, a full guide to the pack, and a suggested prioritisation of tasks and work calendar.
We are often asked whether this pack is suitable for both in-tray and e-tray exercises or only for one of them. The answer is that our practice materials are designed to simulate the format of paper-based in-tray exercises. As such, they are different from the computerised e-tray exercises, which are more dynamic and resemble real-life work environment. However, since both types of exercises asses the same set of skills (problem solving, time management, decision making, etc.), our practice materials can be of great benefit in preparing for both in-tray and e-tray exercises.