E-Tray exercises are electronic versions of in-trays. Both use simulations and scenarios that you are required to interpret and process before making decisions on a number of tasks.
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What skills are e- tray exercises testing?
E-tray tests will vary, depending on the career path you have chosen to follow. However, the elemental structure is pretty much similar for all of them, since e-tray exercises are designed to verify certain competencies.
The sought-after qualifications will be named and defined differently regardless of your targeted job position, so we suggest always researching the actual skills an employer is looking for. Here are some examples.
Planning & organising
The scale of any business can probably be measured in the amounts of emails the company is sending and receiving. If you are on your way to the top, planning on joining the fast-growing, and super competitive enterprise, you would probably need to know how to dig a tunnel in that avalanche of information that you’d be subjected to 5 days a week. Time management and organizational skills are essential, and this is exactly what the e-tray is aiming to test.
Decision making & prioritisation
Some decisions have to be taken on the spot, others can wait. You need to know how to prioritize your tasks to get the thing done. But the e-tray also checks if you know how to hunt for the necessary information. Like in real life, you will be provided with more data than you can or need proceed – so expect distractions. The other thing is to execute whatever is needed to be done in time, without creating unrealistic schedules.
Receiving information is one thing, but being able to come up with the adequate response to it is another. E-tray is verifying not only if you can process the information being shared with you but also if you can react and communicate it in a timely, polite and a clear manner.
Creative & analytical thinking
Since the e-tray exercise is purely situational, candidates are not required to have any specific knowledge. However, the tests are aimed at assessing your intellectual and analytical skills. You will have to demonstrate that you can a) draw conclusions b) be a part of a dynamic conversation c) identify problems and come up with possible solutions.
In some of the e-tray scenarios, you might have to deal directly with hypothetical customer feedback. Here, the employer is clearly verifying if you have done your homework to find out who their clients are. So make sure the imaginary customers on your e-tray exercise receive as timely and efficient service as they would in the real life, and try not to forget the importance of establishing a mutual respect.
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E-tray exercise tips
1Research the role and organisation
Although considered common sense, specific information such as organisational culture, work ethos, organisational structure and highly specific job responsibilities are frequently not researched. The broader and more in-depth your knowledge of the organisation, the better prepared you will be to function in that organisation, and therefore perform to a higher standard in your e-tray exercise. These exercises will frequently be related not just to the organisation, but to the role and to the sector, so for a position in finance, the exercise will be geared towards the day to day activities of a finance worker. The more you know about the role and its responsibilities, the more natural the exercise will seem.
One integral part of the exercise is deciding which tasks are essential and require your immediate attention, and which tasks are of less priority and can be undertaken at a later stage. An important factor in this is time management, being aware of the length of the exercise and how much time you have to complete tasks, and therefore which tasks require immediate focus. Use your judgement to assess which tasks are high priority, and focus on their completion before worrying about less important or even trivial tasks, which do not require your immediate attention.
3Stay calm under pressure
With a time limit and being under observation can make e-tray exercises a stressful and nerve racking exercise. Performance anxiety and stress can make the exercise seem demanding, and as the difficulty increases throughout the exercise, it can seem like the workload keeps building and building. Taking time to read the background information thoroughly, deep breathing and positive thinking can do wonders in preventing feelings of stress, and therefore keeping on top of the demands of the exercise.
Taking time to read the question or the instructions will ensure that you are adequately prepared for that question, and ensure that you have not read the instructions incorrectly. Misreading the question or instructions is a very common and avoidable cause of getting questions incorrect, and can be easily avoided.
E-tray exercise video tutorials
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Practice E-tray exercises
There’s a reason they say practice makes perfect. That phrase holds true when it comes to E-tray exercises. In fact, practice is perhaps even more important if you’re pretty new to these tests.
But don’t worry, we have all the tools you need to get started. Begin by trying our E-tray exercise, viewing the explanations and seeing your scores improve.