The CEB's SHL In-Tray exercise simulates an office environment where you will receive many different emails relating to myriad tasks that you need to take care of. In addition, there will be memos and reports to read through and respond. Thus, your time management skills are put to the test during this exercise. Additionally, as there are many different tasks that need to be done during the In-Tray exercise, your ability to multitask will also be scrutinised.

There are three separate levels of CEB SHL In-Tray exercises:

  • The first level is for administrative staff such as secretarial and clerical staff, call centre staff, and frontline customer service roles.
  • The second level is aimed at the first line manager type roles, namely new or junior managers, or managers with only a small amount of people management experience.
  • The last level tested in the CEB SHL In-Tray exercise is for middle managers, those with more experience than first line managers.

Level 1: Administrative Staff

The CEB SHL In-Tray exercises in this section – Clockwork Events and SmartClothing  are both 75 minutes in length and are based on a template that requires you to attend to an inbox of your predecessor. There are a number of different activities that you will need to complete within the time limit. For example, you are taking acting the place of a newly appointed office assistant at a large online clothing retailer. You will be expected to do the following tasks:

  • Some proof reading
  • Some simple maths
  • Meetings to arrange
  • Write some emails responding to enquiries and complaints
  • Diary to schedule

Level 2: First Line Managers

Some In-Tray exercises in this level take 45 minutes to complete (Manzi-Westbarton and Manzi-Portland) while other take 90 minutes to complete (Aniko Passel Beech Valley In-Tray). In these exercises you are to take the role of store, depot, or service manager and have to quickly catch up on your predecessor’s activities. You will have to work your way through the In-Tray and decide on the course of action you want to take in the following activities:

  • Dealing with requests for sickness absence
  • The launch of a new product
  • Dealing with staff morale
  • Declining sales figures
  • Dealing with a report from a mystery shopper
  • Finding out what happened to a missing consignment
  • Dealing with the results of a customer survey
  • Dealing with a request for some career advice

Level 3: Middle Managers

In these scenarios you are given the position of Operations Manager in a delivery service, either in the form of rail operator (Gold Coast Rail) or in the guise of a parcel delivery manager (Passel In-Tray). In this task you will not only need to make decisions but they will need to be made with a correct analysis taking in all the different alternatives and coming to a reasoned decision. The different tasks you will face include:

  • A cost-benefit analysis of the different safety changes
  • Poor customer service
  • Poor employee engagement
  • Poor employee behaviour
  • Resourcing shortages
  • Training needs
  • Budget considerations
  • Preparing the above for a board meeting

All of these activities and decisions will need to be made within the 90-100 minute timeframe given.


Prepare for Your In-Tray

The different CEB SHL In-Tray exercises have some things in common. First of all, you will need to make reasoned decisions and suggestions for every decision that you make. Moreover, these decisions need to be made in a very short time frame and therefore you will need to stay calm under pressure. Here at JobTestPrep, we have an In-Tray practice pack along with a full explanatory guide dealing with how to approach In-Tray exercises giving you tips and helping you achieve the best possible result. With our help and guidance we are sure that you will be able to perform your best in your next job application. Looking forward to hearing your positive reply after using our products.


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