the in-basket exercise ...part 2

tips for writing an in-basket

Remember that you cannot study for the test since it measures abilities acquired over a long period of time. However, you can prepare.

By taking the practice exercise in the next section you will at the very least become familiar with the format. When you sit down for the real test you should have an idea of what to expect. That may help you to be relaxed and confident because, as you already know, panic is no help at all!

And, you must become familiar with the description of all the competencies that will be measured in the test. Those competencies should be available to you. That is what you will be evaluated on. Understand each word and its importance in your organization.

taking the test

  • Relax and get a good night's sleep the night before the test
  • Plan to arrive early but don't skip breakfast
  • Provide answers for all of the situations
  • Write more rather than less
  • Work fast
  • Although it won't be scored, penmanship is important because the scorer must be able to read your answers
  • Budget your time
  • Stay organized
  • Be efficient
  • Demonstrate your ability in each of the competencies that are being evaluated. You should have studied those competencies carefully before the exercise.
  • Usually, point form is acceptable, but be sure to provide complete answers

how to respond to in-basket exercise situations

  • Do what a successful manager would need to do to handle the issues presented.

    • If you set a meeting, you might consider some of the following:
      Do people attending need to prepare ahead?
      What information do you need before the meeting?
      Has everyone who could be affected by a decision on this matter been invited?
      Who else possesses the necessary knowledge to move this forward?
      Then, explain why you took those actions.

    • Analyze each item thoroughly. Ask yourself:
      Who in the organization is best suited to help me in this area?

    • All situations in an organization are linked but of course some are more linked than others. The items have been grouped within situations because they present common themes.
      However, as in real life, situations overlap.
      Keep this in mind as you work through the exercise.

  • Know your organization. Keep the organizational chart separate from other documents and close at hand so you can quickly find out "who's who".

  • Use your calendar. Given the time limitations you might want to jot down the important meetings. This way you will avoid "being at two places at the same time".

  • Note that each memo, e-mail, and correspondence, includes a date, sender information as well as a subject, where appropriate. Note that the documents are not all in chronological order when you receive them.

  • Do not assume anything that is not directly stated. You do not need more information than is provided to deal with the situations.
    You might ask however, for more information from those who can provide it to you.

  • Respond as if you were on the job. This will provide the best assessment of your competencies.
    The Practice In-Basket Exercise includes common job-related situations such as dealing with performance problems, operational crises, and potential public relations embarrassment.
    Address these issues in a manner that will help the organization move forward.

  • Respond to each separate item within a situation.
    Although items are grouped within a situation, you are expected to deal with each one. If you take one action to deal with all the items in a situation, you need to indicate clearly why this is most appropriate.

  • Clearly indicate the actions you feel are most appropriate for each item within each situation. Then, indicate why.
    This is very important, because the assessment takes into consideration not only what you have done, but also why.
    Explaining what action you have taken and why you have taken that specific action will facilitate the assessment of your ability to manage.

  • Write everything that will help the In-Basket scorer understand how you analyzed the situation on the form provided.
    The assessment is based solely on what you will indicate in writing in the standard response booklet.