Skip to main content
3 answers
5
Asked 1808 views

How to prepare for an interview that includes "in-basket exercise" ?

any suggestion where to start & how to practice?

#career-counseling
#interviews
#career-path
#interviewing-skills
#humanresources

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

5

3 answers


1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Sheila M.’s Answer

Participating in an in-basket exercise requires a lot of focus, reading comprehension and excellent time management. Preparing for an in-basket exercise by using online practice tests is the best way to discover what pace works best for you and simultaneously ensures that the work will be completed. With an online practice test, you will be able to acquaint yourself with the general theme of the content and improve your ability to assign tasks a certain degree of importance over the other tasks. Keep in mind the qualities that companies are assessing while you prepare for the in-basket exercise because those are what you are going to need to enhance on the day you complete the exercise.

Who Uses an In-Basket Exercise?

The test tends to be used for candidates who are already employed and looking to move up professionally (to middle management). Fields in which the in-basket exercise is utilized include the following:
US Police Force Canada Civil Service Banks Accounting Supervisors
US Civil Service Fire departments Recruiters Social services PWC

My suggestion is to first ask them do they have a practice exercise you can see, if no there are plenty on-line practice tests but make sure you pick the one that relates to your area of interview.
1
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Eleanore’s Answer

Hi Cindy,
I would say one of the key things to do is to prioritize. Before you start, I would first do a quick scan of everything to get a lay of the land. There may be components of the exercise that they may flag as high priority or other comments where it may give you some direction on where you should be investing your time. Good luck

1
1
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Kim’s Answer

Cindy,

What is the job you are applying for? Is it an entry-level position or is it higher up?

I have done a few of these, at the entry level. They seemed to be focused on evaluating writing and computer skills, along with analytical thinking. There is also a time factor. For example, I have been seated at a laptop in a secluded room, and told "Write a short statement as to why you are the best candidate for this position. When you are done, print it to printer #2, and save it to the flash drive.. You have 20 minutes." I've also been given real life situations. "You are the case manager on duty. You get called to a house where a distraught client under our agency's care (an adult requiring constant supervision) has been left alone at the home. You call the caretaker, and they are out of state, and won't be back for 12-15 hours, or longer. All of the temporary facilities we have agreements with are at capacity. What would you do?"

As you can see, the second one is looking at your thought processes. No, they do not expect you to know their procedures. They also don't expect a simple response of "call my supervisor," although that should be included in your response. (The agency doesn't want someone who calls the supervisor for every little problem, but they also don't want someone who exercises more authority than they are given and fails to keep the supervisor informed!) Don't overlook the obvious. For example, the first thing might be to calm/reassure the client, and STAY with them.

Another one was a customer complaint. I was told to write a memo responding to the customer's complaint, and another one advising the department manager of the situation. The response to the customer is fairly straight-forward: tell them what I'd like to hear if I was the one complaining. The one to the manager is trickier. The manager does not need a play-by-play: they don't have time to read a detailed memo! Give them a brief summary of the complaint and the action taken. (Customer e-mail stated employee was rude. I thanked her for the feedback. I reviewed the employee's personnel file and found no previous complaints. We discussed alternative ways the situation could have been handled. )

How to prepare? Review basic writing technique. You aren't going to be given time enough to write a perfect essay, but you do want to focus on an intro paragraph, body, and conclusion, along with proper use of punctuation. Try to avoid writing in the passive voice. Stay in the first-person as much as possible. If the exercise is on a computer, make sure to spell/grammar check (even if it means leaving the template they have you using and copying your work onto a Word document). Familiarize yourself with the organization's website. Review any videos you can find about the job, either with them or any related agency. Try to picture yourself in various situations, and imagine what you might do. Brush up on computer skills, if necessary. If you are familiar with the STAR format for answering interview questions, you can also use it in answering short in-basket questions. (Explain the SITUATION, identify the TASK, explain the ACTION taken, and the RESULTS obtained).

Don't "overthink" the question! Read it, re-read it, making sure you understand what is being asked. Don't speedread! You might skip over a key word, such as "not."

Here are some practice questions:

1. We are a nonprofit organization, providing social services to the homeless population. We receive funding from the county, the state, and a grant from a philanthropic organization. We have 16 case managers, and two supervisors. They want to go to a 4-day workweek, with half off on Mondays, and the other half off on Fridays. List the questions/concerns you would have with such a plan if you were the Manager.

2. In the above scenario, identify, from a case manager's perspective, the advantages of the above proposal. Write a short memo to your manager in support of the proposal, using proper memo format.

3. You are applying for a position as a youth transport driver. The job entails transporting youth to various medical appointments and judicial hearings. We do not use restraints (handcuffs, etc). You are assigned to transport two youths, from different locations, to the same location. One, Jonathan, has a history of being non-compliant. Michael has no such history. Explain how you would handle this assignment.

4. Using the STAR format, (Situation, Task, Action, Results), tell me about a time when you had to deal with an extremely irate customer.

Don't stress too much over this! It's just one part of the interview. Just do your best, and look at it as a learning experience! Hopefully you get the job!!!

Let me know if I can be of further help (or if you want to discuss any of the questions I gave you!)
Kim



Thank you comment icon Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts and experiences! I really appreciate it! I’m applying for an entry level position which involves some logistics / scheduling tasks . I just had the interview, it was scénario based question ( regarding conflict resolution and problem solving skills) Given the time limit I don’t think I have a perfect answer. But it’s definitely a great learning experience! Thanks again for the detailed response C
Thank you comment icon You are quite welcome! All of life is a learning experience - it never stops! Fingers crossed!! Kim Igleheart
1