Amidst the fascination and hype with the other “funkier” exercises, such as the case study and in-/e-tray exercises, graduates may sometimes overlook preparing for written exercises, so don’t make this mistake! The written exercise is an important task that reveals your ability to communicate logically, clearly and appropriately – and it’s especially vital if you’re applying for a position that revolves around writing!
Usually more factual in nature, many recruiters use written exercises to check your spelling and grammar (your application or resume may have been edited by an external party), gauge your ability to manage information, assess problems and suggest solutions, test your logical thinking, and check if you can work quickly and act decisively under pressure.
Written exercises can be quite varied, especially in terms of what they want you to write. Some may also be done on paper, while others are conducted digitally – though all have to be completed within a specific deadline.
The different kinds of tests
If you’ve applied for a role that is less writing-related, such as a customer service position, chances are, you’ll be given a generic written exercise. However, more often than not, you’ll be asked to carry out sector-related or position-related assignments. Employers have also been known to combine written exercises with case studies or in-/e-tray tray exercises.
If your exercise isn’t combined with other tasks, you may be assigned a drafting exercise instead. This could come in the form of difficult complaints, queries, or tabloid enquiries.
Remember that the focus is rarely on the “right” answer, but more on whether you’re doing it right. Recruiters want to see if you’re able to pick out the right facts, defend your choices and handle the situation tactfully.
How to succeed
Writing exercises are designed to evaluate a few specific criteria, including your ability to express yourself and your ideas clearly, using the appropriate writing structure; if you can pinpoint important data when faced with an enormous amount of information; whether you’re able to convey information tactfully and simply; and your spelling and grammar – especially when you’re writing under pressure.
In other words, to excel, treat your writing exercise the way you would any written exam!
Employers who typically set written exercises
While most recruiters include an element of written exercise just to assess their candidates’ basic writing and communication skills, there are certain employers who hinge their decision on this assessment.
When can you ask for extra time?
With the appropriate reasons and justifications, you can ask recruiters to give you extra time. However, do speak with the employers in advance so that they can prepare beforehand. Bring any relevant documents to proof your condition – a letter from your doctor or your referee would be sufficient.
Most recruiters are understanding, though, and will be happy to assist you so that you get a fair chance during your assessment.