In-tray exercises

In-tray exercises assess your ability to handle administrative tasks by simulating either a typical paper ‘In-Tray’ or an electronic ‘e-Tray’ Inbox such as Microsoft Outlook. Often timed. Typical tasks include:

  • Prioritising in order of importance a range of materials including memos, letters, phone messages and emails
  • Providing written notes explaining your reasoning for the order in which you placed them
  • Writing written responses to any emails or memos using appropriate business language
  • Coping with additional emails or extra papers that arrive midway through the test

Tips for success

  • Read everything before you start to prioritise and respond, as you may find something important towards the end that you might overlook if you don't read everything first
  • When replying to emails look carefully at who it has come from – adapt your tone and language appropriately – eg friendly banter to the Chief Executive is probably not appropriate!
  • There often isn’t a right or wrong answer – clarity of thought and clear explanation of your reasons are what the assessors are looking for
  • Try to balance urgency with importance – try to assess what is immediate, what can wait and what can be delegated
  • Look out for any deadlines within emails/memos and make sure you meet them

Further information


Page last updated: Tuesday 28 April 2015