One event that you can expect during your promotional test is the Fire Lieutenant In Basket. An in-basket exercise is designed to test the administrative skills needed by an effective officer. An in-basket will be only one component of an exam but it presents an opportunity for the well-prepared candidate to distance themselves from their competition.
The fire lieutenant in-basket will begin with you receiving a packet of printed documents. The first document should “set the stage” for you by identifying the date and time, which station or assignment you will assume while working on the in-basket, and the amount of time you will have to complete the in-basket. Almost universally, you can expect that you will have to assign a priority to each item. It will also provide specific instructions about the way you should present your work. Most in-baskets will require you to present your work to a group of raters, either in person or through video. Some in-baskets require you to provide a written description of the way you would address each item in your in-basket. Read the instructions carefully!
The remainder of the fire lieutenant in-basket documents you receive will be in the form of memos, e-mails, handwritten notes, phone messages, and letters. Your first step is to have a clear working space in front of you. Then read through each item in the in-basket, taking no actions. Play close attention to facts that link an item to other items in the stack.
Once you have read through all the items go back to the first one and begin. Read the item again and assign it a priority: 1, 2, or 3. A Priority 1 item is any item that requires an immediate action. Items that may fall into the Priority 1 category include things that impact your ability to respond to calls for service, some time sensitive items, and items that may have significant politic ramifications.
Priority 3 items are any item that doesn’t require an immediate action and will not have any significant impacts if not handled today. Examples of Priority 3 items are non-urgent equipment needs or scheduling events that don’t need to occur for days or weeks. Not addressing a Priority 3 item during your fire lieutenant in-basket may not even be a cause for failure. Of course we recommend and prepare our candidates to complete all items in the in-basket. This is the best way to showcase your talent and elevate your score as well.
A Priority 2 item is any item that doesn’t fall into the immediate actions or needs of a Priority 1, but requires an action faster then a Priority 3. As you prioritize the items separate them in to stacks based on their priority. You will end up with three stacks, based on the 3 priorities. Start with the Priority 1 stack and detail what actions you would take to resolve the issue presented in the item. Be complete in your description, especially if you must produce a written document for the raters to review. If you will be making an oral presentation to the raters then create talking points, in bullet form, that you can use to keep your presentation on track.
Don’t forget to address items that are related to each other during your presentation or in the written response. The fire lieutenant in-basket is one of the most difficult events in a promotional test but is an area where a prepared candidate can distance themselves from their competition. Learn more at AspiringFireOfficers.com