What Is an In-Basket Test or In-Basket Exercise?

An in-basket test is an assessment exam used as a pre-employment test and also as a pre-promotion assessment employed by various companies. The in-basket assessment is an effective way to assess candidates seeking to move up to a supervisor, manager, director, or even senior executive roles.

The Process of an In-Basket Test

Assuming the role of a manager at a made-up company, the candidate is given material and information generally found in the inbox of the manager. The candidate must respond to the material as though she or he is the manager. Provided with general information about the fictitious company, the candidate is expected to react in real time to each professional scenario that comes his/her way. The candidate is expected to prioritize emails and respond accordingly. He/she is provided with supporting information to assist in responding and in the decision-making process. Additionally, the candidate will participate in a role playing exercise in which an assessor will act as an employee and interact with the candidate.

The Purpose of an In-Basket Exercise

These exercises provide employers with a more precise assessment of a candidate’s abilities and performance. In-basket exercises help to determine how a candidate works under pressure and how he or she budget their time. For instance, a candidate may be asked to prepare a timeline to demonstrate the different phases of a project. This approach is one of those used to test time the management and logical skills of an accountant candidate. In addition to providing employers with valuable information regarding the a candidate’s abilities and work ethic, the in-basket assessment also familiarizes the candidate with the position and his/her potential responsibilities. 

Who Uses 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:

Social services Fire departments Criminal justice Public service
Government Accounting Recruiters Inspectors

The In-Basket Assessment

Aside from assessing a candidate’s leadership style and ability, the in-basket assessment also measures:

Decision-making Empowering others Interpreting information
Managing resources Working with others Written communication


Practice In-Basket Exercises

JobTestPrep.com is affiliated with JobTestPrep.co.uk, which offers extensive in-basket exercise training. If you are interested in becoming a manager, prepare online for your in-basket test using with JobTestPrep's practice assessments. These practice tests will provide you with the confidence you need to succeed and get the promotion you desire.