Have you been invited to complete a written exercise? There are a number of different types of written exercises that you could be asked to complete by an employer. Below we have provided you with some more details around the different types of written exercises and what to expect from them.
What is a Written Exercise?
Written exercises come in a number of formats and are used to assess a number of skills such as those listed below:
1) Ability to communicate coherently when writing 2) Finding solutions 3) Making a decision 4) Information analysis 5) Gathering information
The types of exercises that you will be asked to complete include:
In-Tray / E-Tray Exercise
An In-tray exercise is a paper-based simulation that is used by employers to assess the capabilities of the candidate applying for the role. You will be presented with a business-related scenario that is accompanied with subsequent tasks. These include telephone calls, reports, emails and complaints. It is your responsibility to prioritise each of these tasks in accordance to what you think is of priority. You will also have to provide a reason behind this decision.
The E-tray exercise is the same concept as the In-Tray but the difference being that it is relating to emails. You will receive incoming emails with specific tasks throughout the timeframe of the exam. You will be expected to organise each of the tasks according to urgency based on your own opinion and select a reason as to why you have made this decision.
You will typically have 40 minutes to complete these types of exercises and below we have provided some tips on how to approach them:
- Take a moment to digest the objectives you have been given so that you can make a good decision when it comes to prioritising the tasks associated with achieving the overall goal
- make sure you read through each task thoroughly so that you don’t miss something that might be important
- Make a pro’s and con’s list to each of your decisions so that you can include this in your conclusion so that the employer can understand the logic in your approach to your decision
Drafting letters and Reports
This exercise will be looking at your ability to write, ensuring you have sufficient English skills including grammatical and spelling capabilities. The most common scenario will be a client letter complaining about a product or service. You will be expected to grasp an understanding of the issue, and make a decision on how to resolve it. Your response will be in written format and so you will need to ensure you write clearly and professionally. Client satisfaction will be your objective, as well as representing the brand you are writing on behalf of. Below we have added a few tips on how to approach this type of scenario:
- Don’t go over the word limit in the event you have been given one. This will often demonstrate you’re ability to follow instructions.
- Plan the structure to your response before writing it, for example: ‘Introduction, response to issue, resolution, sign-off’ This will help to clarify your thoughts.
- If you cannot provide the client with the resolution they are looking for (i.e. it’s too ambitious), then make sure you say “no” in an empathetic way. For example: “I am sorry that on this occasion we couldn’t offer the compensation you requested, however I do hope that my explanation above and proposed solution provides you with the comfort that we have resolved the matter accordingly.”
This type of exercise will normally provide you with a case study that requires you to digest information, usually containing fact and figures and write a conclusion on this basis. For example, if you are applying to be a banker, you may be provided with a set of accounts for a potential client who is looking for a loan, along with details of the business activities. You will be asked to write a report on the affordability of the loan and provide evidence that supports your argument.
You can use our case study packs and e-tray exercises to practice these tests so that you can feel confident and gain the skills you need to be successful.