Will I have the opportunity to justify my in-tray exercise answers?

This will depend on whether or not you have been told that your in-tray exercise has a justification or group discussion, element. If you have been told this is included then you will have the opportunity to expand on your answers and maybe say where you found them limiting in certain circumstances. But keep your mind focused on the important issue of ensuring the Assessors see that you have the necessary skills, knowledge, attributes and attitudes (KSA’s) of the role.

You must always ensure any answer or explanation you give is founded in well researched knowledge of the organisation and role. For example, if you are currently a manager your answer may be more focussed on the management aspects of the questions; but if you are applying for an executive or directors role you would be expected to illustrate a more business orientated and strategic aspect to your answer. It is often really helpful to watch and think how you see a person you respect acting in their role and reflecting on how it differs from how you would respond in your current position. To achieve as many marks as possible within your  Assessment Centre you will need to think and react as someone already performing that role.

Frequently your opportunity to justify your answers can be several hours apart from when you worked through the in-tray item and answered the multiple choice questions. You will probably have been taking part in other exercises and you will have to quickly turn your mind back to the in-tray exercise and all the issues it raised. Therefore, it is essential that you made clear and concise notes on how and why you arrived at your decision so that you can quickly familiarise yourself with the context of the exercise again and which of the in-tray items are key for you to refer to.

When you are practicing the in-tray exercise you will develop your own individual technique and possibly your own version of a short-hand, which will enable you to speed up your ability to assimilate and evaluate information presented to you. You may find it easier to use post-it notes which you can easily move around your paperwork and provides you with an easy method for cross referencing. Always remember to add the item you are referring to on any post-it note so that you quickly explain which items you used to draw your conclusions from and make your decision. Another really useful aid is the use of highlighters for key information, or names, which will enable you to quickly refresh your memory when asked to justify your answer to the Assessors.

Watch that you are not easily dissuaded from your original answer as the Assessors will want to see that you are confident of your answer, but do not appear arrogant. If they point out a conflict or issue you have missed during your discussion be willing to agree that you have overlooked or disregarded this. Assessors at this time will be testing how easily you can be moved from your stance and whether or not you are flexible.

You will have to ensure during these exchanges that you come across as approachable and a good listener, and do not give the impression that you are arrogant and narrow minded. You should reflect the type of behaviours you see the role requiring and what you know best to fit in with the ethos of the organisation.

You may also be interested in:

How should I approach the in-tray exercise?
Do all in-tray exercises include a justification section?
Does it matter if I don’t complete the in-tray exercise?
What if I don’t fully agree with any of the in-tray exercise answers?
Is it acceptable to choose ‘none of the above’ as in in-tray exercise answer?
Will I have the opportunity to discuss or justify my in-tray exercise answers?
What should I do if there is insufficient information to answer an in-tray question? and
How should I deal with in-tray items that conflict?

Pass the In-Tray Exercise