E-tray exercises are similar to in-tray exercises in that they consist of the same type of task, however the only difference is that E-tray exercises are presented online, and In-tray exercises are delivered under supervised conditions.
These exercises can be used for numerous jobs and their use is often justified for positions that require ‘Planning and Organising’. The term ‘in-tray’ refers to the traditional use of a tray on an individual’s desk where information that has ‘just come in’ would be placed for attention.
E-tray exercises involve providing a candidate with numerous pieces of information which vary between letters, memos, emails and so on, on a computer screen. The candidate is required to prioritise the tasks contained in each piece of information by dissecting the important and critical tasks that require immediate attention, against those that can take less of a priority.
Often the various pieces of information link together; for example, you may see a memo from a manager suggesting that all payment authorisations must now be done by a head of department, yet you may also find an email from a colleague requesting you to authorise their payment as would normally have been the case previously.
The exercise is administered under an uncontrolled situation, meaning individuals can potentially cheat by involving the input of others. However, it is advised that the assessment be completing solely by the candidate who is applying for the job. A time limit applies which can make the task somewhat challenging.
It is often helpful to create 3 piles, based on priority, using the information you have been provided with. The 3 piles may be determined in terms of the information which you deem requires urgent attention, therefore high priority, that which is low priority and that which is somewhere in between. Once this has been established, you may wish to work through each pile, assigning an order for completion.
Keep a check on the time and spread your time accordingly across the tasks. Do not spend too long on reading all of the content. There is nothing worse than running out of time and having no or little time to complete the task.