In-Tray Exercises

Aptitude tests have become an imperative part of the recruitment process in the corporate sector. These tests are considered as psychometric ways of assessing a potential candidate’s caliber. Thus, it should not be a surprise if you are asked to pass an aptitude test during your recruitment. One popular aptitude test is the In-Tray exercise. This test is being included in many firm’s hiring procedure. However, there is nothing to worry about. We have processed a detailed guide for you for this matter.

The In-Tray exercises are basically a paper based examination which is used to judge a person’s capabilities suitable for the job. In fact, it is a kind of exercise where it is seen whether a person would be able to complete his job responsibility with precision or not.


The guide has been designed to walk you through the In-Tray exercises with ease and comfort. Moreover, the guide tries to make you understand the concepts and facts related to the In-Tray exercises in a coherent manner. The guide has been written in simple yet effective language which is its selling point.

What are In-Tray Exercises?

In-Tray exercises are basically a test to assess your abilities to handle a real time office scenario. It is a test to see how you will prioritize your In-Tray tasks in a busy day. Basically, these exercises test how you process information, analyze problems, make your decisions, take the necessary action, and express yourself in the corporate scenario.

How do In-Tray Exercises Work?

The scenario for the In-Tray exercise is set as per a regular Monday morning in a busy office. As per the scenario, the work files have piled up and you are asked to prioritize your tasks before a grand meeting. You will be given a desk to work on having an In-Tray of paperwork. As per the test, you will have to complete the tasks within a stipulated time frame. The items kept in the In-Tray can range from letters, documents, planners, calendars, etc. You need to read through the information, put it in order as per the priority, and then explain the action which needs to be taken.

Which companies use In-Tray Exercises?

As the In-Tray exercises are gaining popularity day by day, many companies are using the In-Tray exercises for finding their potential employees. Here is a list of some companies that are using the In-tray exercises.

Ernst & Young
World Bank


Which industries use In-Tray Exercises?

Many industries which need to assess a person’s organizing abilities are making use of these In-Tray exercises for their hiring process. Some of these are given below:

Industrial and Manufacturing
Law and Legal


Which assessment centers use In-Tray Exercises?

Some forms even use assessment centers for evaluating their future and candidates. These assessment centers make use of the different aptitude tests to assess the candidates. The assessment centers which use the In-Tray exercises for evaluating their candidates are Saville Assessment, Talent Q, and Cubiks assessment center.  

What kind of jobs are using In-Tray Exercises for evaluation

The In-Tray exercises are used for evaluating candidates for the jobs which require one to be highly organized. Thus, these exercises are use for assessing people for the job role of an administrator or a deputy head.

How difficult are the In-Tray Exercises?

In-Tray exercises are basically designed to judge your organizing and prioritizing abilities. However, you need to complete the given exercises in a defined time limit. Thus, you need to focus on making the most of your time and not to waste too much time on a particular task. This needs practice, without which you may not be able to complete the tasks in time.

How important are the In-Tray Exercises for my evaluation?

In-tray exercises are actually tests of your abilities to comprehend the given information, prioritize your duties, and taking proper action to fulfill them in time. Moreover, it is also a test of your accuracy and logical reasoning. Thus, many firms which require their work to be done with complete precision, such as banking firms, make use of these exercises. Moreover, these exercises are a perfect chance for you as a candidate also to showcase your different logical and reasoning skills. You can exhibit your accuracy, organizing skills and that too with great exactitude.

When do I take the In-tray Exercises?

When you will take the In-tray exercise will depend on firm to firm. Some of the employers wish the candidate to undertake the exercise at the time of pre-interview screening while some wish to consider it as an important test only. Thus, it will depend upon your employer when you will take the In-Tray exercise.

What kind of abilities or knowledge do I need to know to pass the In-Tray Exercises?

During the In-Tray exercise, you would be expected to make calculation as per the information given, extract relevant data from the given piece of information, and make the judgment calls where you are dealing with unhappy clients. Thus, you need to be prepared well to do the organized tasks, smart enough to extract the information, and quick enough to make the calculations.

How will my In-Tray exercise be assessed?

As a part of an In-Tray exercise, you would be given a task to clear your In-Tray tasks within a stipulated time frame. The time frame may range from 30 Minutes to about an hour. You need to prioritize your tasks and complete the tasks as per your reasoning. The tasks may include phone calls, documents, letters, planner, or calendar. You will be assessed with the time you take to complete the In-Tray tasks, how do you prioritize your tasks, and what way of action you plan to take for completing the tasks.

In-Tray Exercise Tips

By following some practice tips, it may become easy for you to pass the In-Tray exercises. Thus, we bring to you certain reliable tips which you can use for passing the test.

Read through the information carefully and write down your observations

It is advisable to go through the information given and then assess the requests. In addition, it is better to write down your observations which you need to show to the examiners. Writing down the observations will make it easier for you to decide which task needs to be first.

Think about the proximity of your appointments in the In-Tray

There may be various items in your In-Tray which require your attention, such as appointments, meetings, awards, conferences, etc. Thus, it is always better to make a note of the locations of these engagements and then prioritize them.

Note the significance of the receiver of the communication

There may be some tasks which can be related directly to the managing director of your firm. Thus, you need to take care to prioritize the specific task in comparison of some query resolving.

Pay special attention to the date of the communication

The communications in your In-Tray may include different time and dates. Thus, you need to look at the urgency of the tasks depending upon its date and time.

Imagine you are actually facing real time In-Tray exercise

This will assist you in handling the test with enough concentration. Moreover, you will also enjoy a higher success rate if you take it as a real time situation.

Types of aptitude exercises

There are certain types of aptitude exercises which are used in different assessment centers and during recruitment process of various firms. There are 5 types of aptitude exercises

Verbal Reasoning

Technical Aptitude

Non Verbal

Fault Diagnosis

Numerical Reasoning

Example scenarios on an In-Tray Exercise

Imagine you have joined the Money Safe Bank through its Graduate Trainee Program. You are now being promoted to the role of Interim Regional Manager. This role would require you to manage two Team Leaders and also assisting in improving the bank’s economic performance.

However, there has been a delay in finding an appropriate person for this role. Thus, there have been many pending engagements, outstanding issues, pending meetings, etc.

Here are the In-Tray exercises you need to complete successfully.

  • Money Safe Bank’s Structure
  • Branch Manager’s Note
  • Resignation Letter
  • Team Performance Review
  • Staff Opinion Survey Results
  • Customer Complaint
  • Memo from Operational Manager

Now, your task is to prioritize the given tasks, make your observations, and to take an action to complete these tasks. However, all these tasks need to be completed within an hour.

So, All the Best!

To sum things up

The guide has been crafted by professionals who hold long years of experience in undertaking In-Tray exercises. Moreover, the guide tries to give answers to all the queries related to the In-Tray exercise, along with touching different aspects of the aptitude test.

Why preparing for In-Tray exercise is important?

Preparation is the absolute key to follow if you want to gain success at the In-tray exercises assessment. The reason is that firms want you to complete the different natured tasks in the In-Tray within a given time limit. Thus, without practicing, you may not be able to complete the tasks within the stressful time frame.