How To Pass The E-Tray Exercise: A Guide For 2022 (2022)

How To Pass The E-Tray Exercise: A Guide For 2022 (1)

How To Pass The E-Tray Exercise: A Guide For 2022 (2)

E-Tray exercises are electronic versions of in-trays. Both use simulations and scenarios that you are required to interpret and process before making decisions on a number of tasks.

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What are E-tray exercises?

E-tray exercises are similar to in-tray exercises that have been used by employers for years. In the good old days of the analog age, during assessment centers candidates were tested in in-tray exercises, in which you were asked to play a member of staff, who unfortunately was significantly behind with his/her desk work. Once we have left the analog age and entered into a more exciting digital times, the in-tray exercises were replaced by e-tray.

How To Pass The E-Tray Exercise: A Guide For 2022 (3)

The simulation was now moved into the online environment. However, you still might be presented with a selection of letters, e-mails or newspapers abstracts and reports that you would be normally coping with on a busy day at work. So the workload and intensity of this exercise haven’t really changed. But the test will be conducted in a neat, and surely more familiar, digital format. This makes things a little bit easier for you, as it can, and in fact, should be practiced.

How to pass an e-tray exercise?

The exercise is usually integrated with other selection procedures. It might pop up during online application or the actual assessment center day.

In order to meet the requirements, you need to make sure you fully understand the information that is presented to you. So read slowly and carefully, and try to recreate the structure of the company in your head. After all, for the duration of the sitting, they are your colleagues.

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What skills are e- tray exercises testing?

E-tray tests will vary, depending on the career path you have chosen to follow. However, the elemental structure is pretty much similar for all of them, since e-tray exercises are designed to verify certain competencies.

The sought-after qualifications will be named and defined differently regardless of your targeted job position, so we suggest always researching the actual skills an employer is looking for. Here are some examples.

(Video) In-Tray Tips - How to Pass In Tray Exercises

Planning & organising

The scale of any business can probably be measured in the amounts of emails the company is sending and receiving. If you are on your way to the top, planning on joining the fast-growing, and super competitive enterprise, you would probably need to know how to dig a tunnel in that avalanche of information that you’d be subjected to 5 days a week. Time management and organizational skills are essential, and this is exactly what the e-tray is aiming to test.

Decision making & prioritisation

Some decisions have to be taken on the spot, others can wait. You need to know how to prioritize your tasks to get the thing done. But the e-tray also checks if you know how to hunt for the necessary information. Like in real life, you will be provided with more data than you can or need proceed – so expect distractions. The other thing is to execute whatever is needed to be done in time, without creating unrealistic schedules.


Receiving information is one thing, but being able to come up with the adequate response to it is another. E-tray is verifying not only if you can process the information being shared with you but also if you can react and communicate it in a timely, polite and a clear manner.

Creative & analytical thinking

Since the e-tray exercise is purely situational, candidates are not required to have any specific knowledge. However, the tests are aimed at assessing your intellectual and analytical skills. You will have to demonstrate that you can a) draw conclusions b) be a part of a dynamic conversation c) identify problems and come up with possible solutions.

Customer Focus

In some of the e-tray scenarios, you might have to deal directly with hypothetical customer feedback. Here, the employer is clearly verifying if you have done your homework to find out who their clients are. So make sure the imaginary customers on your e-tray exercise receive as timely and efficient service as they would in the real life, and try not to forget the importance of establishing a mutual respect.

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How are e-tray exercises scored?

E-tray exercises are aimed at testing person in conditions that will emulate a regular workflow. You will be given tasks that will require you to act in the role of a company’s employee and cope with standard tasks at the job you’re applying for. Thus, your score will come together as a report on your actions and productivity.

What are e-tray exercises used for?

E-tray exercises are used to evaluate how fit an applicant is for the job. It is an emulation of a regular work day, as if you were already a part of the company. The tasks will be similar to those of routine responsibilities and some force-major situations. This process allows for assessing such skills as planning, organising, communication, decision making etc. needed for your desired position.

What do e-tray exercises involve?

E-tray exercises involve tasks designed to simulate work conditions at a position you are applying for. For instance, there might be such tasks as mail monitoring and task prioritisation, conference calling, organising a meeting, or preparing a report. Most companies will also give you a short orientation about your resources, co-workers and situations you will be in during the day to facilitate participation.

What do e-tray exercises measure?

E-tray exercises measure how a person uses their job-related skills in different simulated work situations. The majority of e-tray tests are aimed at assessing most crucial skills for a career you choose to pursue. Among such skills are creative and analytical thinking, planning, organising, and problem-solving skills, as well as stress resilience.

Where can I practice e-tray exercises?

While most of the e-tray tests will depend on the job you are applying for, there are some cases that could be generalised. Here on our website, we have some common types of e-tray tests so that you can familiarise yourself with them and practice to improve your performance.

(Video) In Tray Exercise: 3 Expert Tips For Success

Which employers use e-tray exercises?

E-tray exercises are basically the same as in-tray exercises, with the only difference: they are assessed digitally. While in-tray exercises are more resource-intensive to organise, e-tray tests are less demanding as they all run on electronic devices. Thus, even small businesses might afford testing their potential hires with this type of assessments.

E-Tray Exercises Tips

1Research the role and organisation

Although considered common sense, specific information such as organisational culture, work ethos, organisational structure and highly specific job responsibilities are frequently not researched. The broader and more in-depth your knowledge of the organisation, the better prepared you will be to function in that organisation, and therefore perform to a higher standard in your e-tray exercise. These exercises will frequently be related not just to the organisation, but to the role and to the sector, so for a position in finance, the exercise will be geared towards the day to day activities of a finance worker. The more you know about the role and its responsibilities, the more natural the exercise will seem.


One integral part of the exercise is deciding which tasks are essential and require your immediate attention, and which tasks are of less priority and can be undertaken at a later stage. An important factor in this is time management, being aware of the length of the exercise and how much time you have to complete tasks, and therefore which tasks require immediate focus. Use your judgement to assess which tasks are high priority, and focus on their completion before worrying about less important or even trivial tasks, which do not require your immediate attention.

3Stay calm under pressure

With a time limit and being under observation can make e-tray exercises a stressful and nerve racking exercise. Performance anxiety and stress can make the exercise seem demanding, and as the difficulty increases throughout the exercise, it can seem like the workload keeps building and building. Taking time to read the background information thoroughly, deep breathing and positive thinking can do wonders in preventing feelings of stress, and therefore keeping on top of the demands of the exercise.

4Follow instructions

Taking time to read the question or the instructions will ensure that you are adequately prepared for that question, and ensure that you have not read the instructions incorrectly. Misreading the question or instructions is a very common and avoidable cause of getting questions incorrect, and can be easily avoided.

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What is an e-tray competency assessment? ›

E-tray exercises assess a candidates ability to perform the necessary functions of the position applied for, skills which cannot be assessed by traditional psychometric tests. Typical skills and attributes assessed are: Managerial ability and taking responsibility. Decision making and prioritisation.

What is a timed in tray exercise? ›

The basic idea of in tray exercises is to place you in a realistic although simulated work situation, and to assess your workplace behaviour and attitudes in that context. So when you're given an in tray exercise, it's usual to be asked to treat it as a role-play.

What is an in basket exercise at an interview? ›

An in-basket exercise assesses a candidate's ability to perform a manager's job from an administrative perspective. In the exercise, the candidate is confronted with issues and problems that have accumulated in the manager's "in-basket" after returning to work from an extended absence.

What is an in-tray exercise NHS? ›

In-Tray Activities - Are paper-based simulations used to assess your organisation and prioritisation skills. Tasks include managing an in-tray, phones calls, emails and complaints. Group Exercises - Are designed to assess your communication and team working skills whilst working through a work-based scenario.

What is the e tray civil service? ›

The Civil Service use e-tray tests as part of their recruitment process to help them select the best candidates for a particular role. So as a graduate or senior candidate applying for a job at the Civil Service you might feel like the e-tray test is an unnecessary hoop to jump through.

How do you do an InBox workout? ›

In a mailbox exercise you are presented with a full mailbox or inbox, digital or analogue. You are the manager this received mail is addressed to, and your task is to deal with the mail within the time set for it.

What is an InBox interview? ›

An InBox Assessment is a simulation of a typical day on the job and shows the potential employer how you would handle the variety of tasks, questions and problems that may cross your desk. Among other things, they are looking to see how well you manage your time, organize your workload, communicate and make decisions.

What is an in tray exercise school administrator? ›

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.

What is a Prioritisation exercise? ›

One of the key steps of the SPP Approach is to identify and prioritise the sustainable products which are meant to be procured by public entities during the first pilot tenders. This step is referred to as the Prioritisation Exercise.

What is an in tray? ›

: a box or other container on a desk in which letters, notes, etc., that are sent to the desk are placed.

What is an in tray test? ›

In-tray exercises are work simulation assessments, requiring a candidate to assume the role of an employee at a fictitious organisation. Candidates will be presented with a workplace scenario, which is usually a return from a holiday or break, requiring the candidate to catch up on work which has built up.

What is inbox in tray assessment? ›

An in-tray exercise is a simulation used to assess the aptitude of potential employees as part of the employment selection process. Candidates will be presented with a business-related scenario, accompanied by a list of related tasks including telephone calls, emails, complaints and reports.

Is also called as in tray training? ›

The in tray exercise (also called an e-tray exercise) is a popular assessment activity which employers use to evaluate the skills of applicants in a workplace situation.

Where is the most common use of an in-basket technique? ›

The in-basket exercise is designed to assess a candidate's adaptive thinking, problem-solving, judgement, administrative abilities, planning, organising, delegating, and integrative skills while dealing with memos, e-mails, requests, messages, handwritten notes, and other items while under pressure.

What is a work sample example? ›

A work sample is a product (such as an example of writing/editing) that applicants are requested to bring to the job interview. These samples are reviewed by the hiring supervisor as examples of work that can be produced by the applicant, and the review becomes part of the overall selection process.

Which of the following is true of in-basket exercises? ›

Which of the following is true of in-basket exercises? They simulate the administrative tasks of a manager's job, using a pile of documents for the employee to handle. How does 360-degree feedback help organizations? Performance improves and behavior changes as a result of participation.

What happens at an NHS assessment day? ›

You may be required to take a numerical reasoning test, verbal reasoning test, logical reasoning test and/or situational judgement test in-person at the assessment centre. In pairs or small groups, you must work together with other candidates to discuss a work-related topic or brief and come to an agreed conclusion.

How long is an NHS interview? ›

The structure of an NHS interview

Usually, an NHS interview will last for 30 – 45 minutes and will be formatted as below. The interviewers are usually a mix of clinical and HR personnel. Introductions: The interview will open with introductions from those present.

What do you know about the NHS interview question? ›

NHS Interview Questions asking for an example
  • Tell us about a situation where you worked under pressure.
  • Describe a situation when you dealt with a difficult patient.
  • Tell us about a time when you played a key role in a team.
  • Discuss a situation when you had to ask for a senior help.

How can I pass my interview test? ›

How to Pass a Job Interview Successfully
  1. STEP 1: Start by researching the company and your interviewers. ...
  2. STEP 2: Practice your answers to common interview questions. ...
  3. STEP 3: Reread the job description. ...
  4. STEP 4: Be prepared with examples of your work. ...
  5. STEP 5: Plan your route. ...
  6. STEP 6: Dress for interview success.

How do I prepare for my written test? ›

Tips on how to perform well on a written test for job interview
  1. Be mindful of the allocated time. ...
  2. Keep calm. ...
  3. Check your writing for minor errors. ...
  4. Make sure you are well-rested. ...
  5. Pay attention to the directions. ...
  6. Be truthful in personality tests. ...
  7. Prepare for the test. ...
  8. Try to arrive early.

How should I prepare for my interview? ›

How to prepare for a job interview
  1. Know the Job Role Well. ...
  2. Research Your Interviewers. ...
  3. Know the Company and the Industry. ...
  4. Know Interview Etiquette. ...
  5. Anticipate Questions and Practice Interviewing. ...
  6. Dress to Impress. ...
  7. Know the Location Well. ...
  8. During the Interview – Be Positive, Listen and Ask.

What questions are asked in school admin interview? ›

What is your experience with management by objectives, or with working a management team? How would you organize the administrative staff for a school of this size? How would you describe the role of the student counsellors? How would you react to a student calling you by your first name?

What is a competency based interview? ›

Behavioural or competency based interviews are used to show how you would demonstrate certain behaviours/skills in the workplace. You will be asked to give an example of a situation or task that led you to take a certain course of action.

How do you prepare for an exercise tray? ›

One final word of advice for your in-tray exercise: be sure to take into account the personality and style of the fictional organisation you're asked to imagine working for. Then ensure that your actions, decisions and any “work” you produce reflect your awareness.

Which of the following is involved in the basket training? ›

On-the-job training.

What is leaderless group exercise? ›

The leaderless group discussion is a type of assessment center exercise where groups of applicants meet as a group to discuss an actual job-related problem.

What is a simulation assessment? ›

Assessment is a process that measures student improvement over time, motivates students to study, evaluates the effectiveness of teaching methods, and ranks the students' performance in comparison to their cohort (Jabbarifar, 2009).

What is role play exercise? ›

Role play exercises give students the opportunity to assume the role of a person or act out a given situation. These roles can be performed by individual students, in pairs, or in groups which can play out a more complex scenario.


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