The e-tray exercise is the main focus of this stage. During this, you will be presented with a mocked-up inbox programme, and a good deal of background material, (all electronic) in the form of papers, emails, press cuttings etc. You will be given a defined role, job description, and goals. Over the next 50 minutes, you will receive around 25 emails, asking you to make a decision. There are 4 options for each email, which you have to rate from best, to worst.

Pay very close attention to the background material you are given. Of particular importance will be the organisation chart, your role description, and the overall goal of the project. For each email that comes in, consider carefully what your role in the team is, how you fit in to the team overall, and how the email relates to the overall goal of the project.

One of the options can usually be discounted straightaway. Two will be similar, but subtly different – normally one of these will be the correct answer. Look closely, and see which one makes more sense, bearing in mind both the background materials, in particular the information above, and your previous answers. Being consistent with your previous answers is also crucial. Having said how important it is to be consistent with your previous answers – one of the tricks in the e-tray is that you will be tested to see how flexible you are. One of your early decisions will be tested, e.g. something will change at the last minute, and you'll have to make the same decision again – don't be afraid to change your mind here – they're looking for people who know when to re-evaluate, and aren't afraid to change their minds – but only when the correct evidence presents itself.

Finally, you'll be given a written exercise at the end of the e-tray. This will only be marked if you move on the Fast Stream Assessment Centre (FSAC). Do it well, as it's an easy way to strengthen your FSAC score, but more so, a needless way to drag that score down if you switch off, thinking you’ve done your bit for this stage. This exercise is testing your written communication skills, and ability to generate new ideas. Make sure you write with a clear logical structure, with headings etc. The assessors will also be counting how many ideas you come up with in the second part of this exercise – so feel free to let your imagination run wild – if in doubt, just write it down! In the coaching page you can see how we offer a niche tool to help with this particular section which isn’t normally an intuitive skill for many people.