What the hell is an inbox exercise? – first published 29 October 2013


I’d spent the  night cough, cough, coughing and I woke feeling as if I’d never been to bed, all foggy head and a bundle of coughs and sniffles. With a second interview on the horizon it wain’t ideal but I supposed I’d have to work with what I had. It seemed a touch déjà vu. I interviewed for the Mad House with a stinking cold and a horrible cough followed me through the first weeks of my training. Come to think of it I started at Silver Helm with a horrible cough. Perhaps it was a good omen.

October 29 2013

At least it wasn’t blowing a gale this morning which is something to be thankful for. The sky was all pink clouds although they looked a little icy to me. When I went outside the clouds hadn’t lied, it was chilly. Arabella was in the office today. After talking to me on the phone yesterday and hearing my croaky voice she’d come thoughtfully armed with ginger and lemon herb infusions for me. They weren’t bad but the coughing didn’t stop. It’s so embarrassing bursting into loud uncontrolled coughing fits every so often then having everyone ask if you’re alright.


The agency sent me an email confirming all the details of Friday’s second interview. It seems I should expect the whole thing to last about two hours. That’s an improvement on the Mad House interview, which lasted four. That time I had to do a telephone role play which was horrendous and I left the place feeling like I’d blown it for sure. This time I’ve been informed there will be an ‘inbox exercise.’ Feeling ever so slightly thick, I had to Google it to find out what it meant and I’m not sure I like the answer.

Apparently an inbox exercise is when a company give you a pretend inbox and you have to sort through it, prioritising, delegating and completing tasks. All this is supposed to happen in a set amount of time and it’s meant to tell them if I will be up to the job. If I was employing someone I’d probably think it was a great idea but as the prospective employee it sounds like torture of a very cruel and unusual kind.

I take comfort in the fact that Arabella didn’t know what it was either. Come to that neither did anyone else in the office. I suppose it must be some new kind of interview torture technique. Arabella pointed out it was just what I do every day so I shouldn’t be worried about it. She’s right, it does sound like a normal day here in the office. The usual morning email mountain, quickly whizzing through to delete the rubbish and flag the urgent stuff, firing off a few replies to quick things just to make the pile look smaller, diarising, diary checking then down to the stuff that just cannot wait. All this is very well when you know what you’re doing but not so easy when you don’t. Oh well, what’s the worst that can happen?


Apparently you can find practice ones on line. Maybe I should have a go at one, then again…

Somehow, while we were going through our long, long list it got dark. That’s the trouble with daylight saving, it doesn’t actually save any daylight at all, just means walking home in the dark. It does mean I get to see the sunset over the city though, if I remember to look out of the window at the right time.


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Writer, walker, coffee drinker, chocolate eater, lover of nature, history and the little things that make me smile

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