In tray exercise design

In tray exercise design

In-trays simulate the (administrative) day-to-day issues someone in the assessed role would face. The candidate must offer solutions for as many items as possible,  a typical in tray will instruct the candidate to prioritise the full set of issues and their associated actions.

In Tray Design – Pros and Cons

  • Tricky to develop
  • Take 2-3 times the time of other assessment exercises to develop
  • Require a mixture of job-relevant items to be supplied by 1-2 job incumbents
  • High face validity with a cross-section of role-specific issued raised
  • Provides some timetable flexibility, since in trays exercises can be scheduled for individual candidates to complete, or with two or more at a time
  • Can assess a range of different job specific competencies, particularly organisational and quality-focused competencies. For example:
  • Problem analysis and solving skills
  • Time management and prioritisation
  • Delegation skills and decisiveness
  • Concern for quality and equality
  • Concern for customers
  • Responsiveness
  • Leadership style and motivational skills
  • Skill in the officer/Member interface
  • Performance management
  • Technical knowledge
  • Coalition or partnership building skills
  • Written communication
  • Planning and organising
  • Strategic thinking and breadth

Checklist for Designing the In-tray Exercise

  • Have clear assessment criteria
  • Each item must be based on an existing work related issue.
  • Clear and concise candidate instructions are required. Here are the key points to highlight in the in tray instructions:
    • Candidate’s assumed name for the purpose of the exercise (the addressee on all correspondence);
    • Candidate’s assumed job title (usually the job being applied for);
    • An explanation of the contents of the in tray exercise (as consisting of memoranda, letters, reports, e-mails and other documents).
    • The specific time and date, i.e. the in tray exercise context.
  • Group exercises typically involve a group of four to six candidates given a group or individual exercise briefs.

Assessment Exercise Design