Most in-tray exercises will have at least 12 items, but for more
senior jobs this can increase to 30 or more. It is important not
to sift through these items and discard ones you feel are
unnecessary, because many short or inconsequential items are put
in to create double bookings which you would otherwise miss.
When reading through the items it is important to highlight or clearly mark the important information each item contains. If you find that you have been unable to read all the items or you have scanned the items and discarded some that look unimportant, you are significantly reducing your ability to maximise your score because you will have no idea of the implications an unread item may have on a question.
If you are unable to answer all the questions you will be reducing your chances of being a successful candidate. The extent to which this is detrimental will depend on how many questions you are unable to answer.
The number of questions in an exercise are designed so that you can answer them all, but it doesn’t mean that you will have several minutes for each one. You will have to ensure that you proportion the time you have available sensibly, using several minutes to consider a more complex questions and using considerably less time on such questions as ‘which one of the following items would you retain?’.
The key to your success will be how well you have evaluated the information contained in the overview and items and then used this knowledge to make decisive and sound judgements and decisions in the questions you are asked. How well you prioritise the required actions resulting from the items or documents in your exercise will carry considerable marks. The extent to which this will influence your final score will depend on the level of position you are applying and how key such behaviour will be in that role.
As in many assessment centre choice tests, if you know you have several
questions left unanswered as the Assessor calls your attention to
the last five minutes, it is worthwhile quickly using those last
few minutes to randomly select an option . In many cases the
answers are not clear cut in an exercise such as the in-tray one,
and you can often pick up partial marks by choosing another
answer. It is vital that you remember during this exercise that
your objective is to maximise your score and to do this you have
to exhibit the ‘behaviours’ the Assessors have selected as
essential for the position.
Finally, if during the exercise you have been unable to answer some of the questions when you come to your ‘justification section’ (if this is included in your exercise) you will not be able to score any marks when you are asked about the issues raised in these questions because you will not have given them any thought. This is especially poignant when there can be at least an hour or two gap between the questions and justification.
You may also be interested in: What is an Assessment Centre, Types of Assessment Centre, Competencies and Behaviours, Assessment Centre Exercises, In-Tray Exercise, Presentation Exercise, Group Exercises and Role Play Exercises.