A technique sometimes used in the selection process, particularly in assessment centres. It entails a candidate dealing with an accumulating and confusing amount of information which requires prioritization and action, and in this respect it is designed to simulate the work of a busy manager. The information is usually in the form of a series of memos and other documents, although it could also be emails and telephone calls. The candidate is given strict time constraints and during the exercise is frequently interrupted with new information and issues that require immediate action. If designed carefully, the in-tray exercise can be an effective simulation to test how candidates might organize and prioritize work, and how they might cope with pressure. In-tray exercises are also used in management development programmes, although their effectiveness as a learning tool is dependent on having good-quality feedback once the exercise has been completed.
Subjects: Human Resource Management.