Career success

How To Do Well At In-tray And E-tray Exercises

What is an in-tray exercise?

It is a business simulation to see how well you are suited to a particular role, and is usually part of an assessment test, where you play an employee who has to deal with the tasks of a busy day.


Usually, large companies companies do this. They want to see if you can analyze facts and figures, prioritize information and make good decisions under pressure, in 'live' situations.


They will give you letters, emails and reports (paper or electronic format), which somebody in that job role might find in their inbox.


Employers want to see whether you can go through lots of information quickly, prioritizing things, seeing what's important and what's more important, so and, and then get back with responses and decisions.


Typically, you will get one to two hours to go through 20 or more items.


You have to read each item, decide on an action, assign , and finish related tasks such as summarizing a report or drafting a reply to an email.


Some items may just require a yes or no answer.


Other in-tray may need a longer response, such as drafting a reply to a customer complaint, writing a report, delegating tasks to colleagues or recommending action to superiors. You may need to analyse information for some items (calculating budgets or sales figures, using information provided).


New items may be added while the exercise is in progress.


Sometimes, you might be asked to make a phone call to a 'customer', role played by one of the assessors.


The electronic version of the in-tray exercise is called the e-tray exercise.

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