In-Basket Technique

What is In-Basket Technique?

In basket technique, also known as an in-basket exercise, is a term used by businesses and governments to hire or promote employees. The in-basket strategy involves placing a range of concerns or issues in an “in-basket” to familiarise employees with their jobs.  

At the same time, the employee must examine the difficulties, which may include comments from other employees, and communicate with them all. Employees transfer these problems to the "out-basket" as they are solved.  

Norman O. Frederiksen and colleagues at Educational Testing Service created the test in the 1950s.  Assessment centres, which are multi-day evaluations encompassing a range of simulation activities and tests, are frequently used to identify and manage talent and include in-basket exercises.

How does In-basket technique work?

The in-basket method in HRM assesses administrative abilities of employees which are essential for efficient supervisory and manage performance. It is also a behaviourally oriented, standardised activity.  

  1. Job applicants will receive a number of emails, phone calls, documents, and memoranda during the exam.  
  1. They are then given a specific amount of time to determine priorities, plan their work schedule, and reply to mail and phone calls.  
  1. Multiple trained raters evaluate and score applicants based on predetermined performance competencies relevant to the in-basket exercise.  
  1. After each candidate completes the in-basket activity, a team of trained raters conducts a question-and-answer session with them to evaluate their performance on the exercise using a set of pre-defined rating scales based on job-related competencies (e.g., planning and evaluating, problem solving and decision making, etc.)
  1. Each candidate obtains a composite score from numerous raters based on standardised criteria as a result of the in-basket activity.

Some tasks are also designed to test applicants' critical thinking skills, as well as their ability to face obstacles and solve problems, from spotting potential hazards to making well-informed judgments on how to proceed. These activities also represent how effectively applicants operate under pressure when working on a deadline in real life.

What are the traits that in-basket technique measure?

The in-basket exercise is designed to assess a candidate's adaptive thinking, problem-solving, judgement, administrative abilities, planning, organising, delegating, and integrative skills while dealing with memos, e-mails, requests, messages, handwritten notes, and other items while under pressure.

Various definitions may be merged or adjusted in each particular in-basket exercise. The following competencies will be examined in the in-basket exercise, albeit the particular competencies will differ.  

1. Ability to plan, evaluate and execute

Organizes work, defines priorities, and determines resource requirements; establishes goals and strategies for achieving them; monitors and assesses progress toward the goals.  

2. Ability to identify problems and areas of improvements

Gathering, interpreting, and evaluating information to determine its accuracy and relevance; generating alternatives; making well-informed decisions; and committing to achieve organisational goals are all part of problem solving and decision making.

3. Ability to manage and organize information

Recognizes the need for information; analyses and interprets data in complicated settings including competing demands, requirements, and priorities; assesses its value and correctness; and communicates it using a variety of techniques.  

4. Ability to be independent and accountable

Takes initiative; sets well-defined and realistic personal goals; tracks progress and is driven to succeed; effectively manages time and copes with stress.

What are some examples of In-Basket exercises?

Below are a few examples of in-basket training method:

Example 1: A manager is enlisting the help of an administrative specialist. They devise an in-basket activity that comprises editing written letters, filling out a purchase requisition, and completing a travel voucher.  

Example 2: An in-basket method, consisting of preparing a press release, responding to a reporter's written questions, and offering comments on a draught brochure meant for the general public, may be part of the effective hiring process for a public information officer post.

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