Is it acceptable to choose ‘none of the above’ as in in-tray exercise answer?

Whilst the ‘None of the above’ option is sometimes used to distract you from properly evaluating the issue posed in the question, in some instances they do actually provide a valid option which you could, if you wished, select as your answer.

The key aspect to remember is to fully assess what the question is asking you and to then determine what would be the most appropriate course of action when you take all the other issues and items included in your in-tray exercise. By practising in-tray exercises you will become more familiar with the style and format of the questions and by reviewing your answers you will be able to understand how to increase your score. It is important to remember although each question poses just one issue you must consider your answer within the context of the whole picture portrayed in your in-tray items.

For example, in your in-tray exercise you could be assigned the role of Business Development Manager. One of your items could be telling you a whole weeks production of your new prototype was lost due to poor quality control and you have to replace this be the end of the week in order to ensure testing of the prototype can still go ahead. Another item tells you that you must also meet current orders otherwise the company will lose money. From reading all the other items and the overview you ascertain that this production issues is vital and the pre-testing meetings you must attend are of strategic importance to the long-term success of the company.

One of your questions asks you how you would deal with the Human Resources Directors memo requesting to see you to urgently discuss the negative feedback from your team. Your multiple choice answers could look like this:

  • Arrange a meeting for this morning.

  • Contact the Human Resources Director immediately and discuss the feedback

  • Call his secretary and fix up a meeting for tomorrow.

  • Reply to his memo saying you’ll see him this afternoon.

  • None of the above

In this instance selecting ‘None of the above’ is the correct answer. This is because in your role as Business Development manager you are responsible for the strategic development of the company. Just from the brief information above you can see that you urgently need to focus on the production issues regarding the prototype and the customer orders. You already are heavily committed to meeting for the testing next week so you have little time spare. Whilst it is important that you address the negative feedback of your team with the Human Resources Director it is not a top priority for someone who has such strategic responsibility within the company.

This decision could change if from reading the other items in a scenario, the negative feedback of your team directly effected your key purpose within the company. During any in-tray exercise you must make your decisions according to your brief. This type of questions is assessing your ability to prioritise, manage your time and assign a level of importance to each item.

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