In-basket test

The mailbag is a case study used in assessment centers test method to investigate the ability to work and a candidate's effectiveness under time stress. In the original paper-pencil method of the candidates receives a stuffed mailbox that contains "typical" fictitious documents from the input files of the company concerned. This letter may, orders, memoranda of staff and colleagues, his invitations to events and the like. Often, an organization chart of the company, a calendar, or the like is attached. The individual transactions will then work through the candidate within a given time, for each of which a decision must be made, such as " immediately do ", " Reset ", " provisional measures ", " seek more information ", "an employee delegate "," ignore ", etc. important factors, inter alia, the importance and urgency to the cause (see Eisenhower method), the availability of personnel and material resources that collisions with other objects and the like contained in the mailbox. In the end, the choices are to present the reviewers or the candidates will be assessed according to according to pre-determined in a requirement analysis criteria.

Essential properties that are checked in the mailbag case study, are the organizational skills, the analytical skills, working under time pressure, ability to set priorities, the action orientation ( work organization ) and entrepreneurial thinking. Important work characteristics such as skill, creativity, social and cognitive skills are not detected by the test. It is usually used to fill vacancies in the lower management or clerk.

IT mailbags

For in-tray method, some computer-assisted programs have been developed in recent years and these are also increasingly being used in the individual diagnosis. These computer-based variants a high level of standardization of the implementation and evaluation is achieved. The so-called electronic mailbox can have such a high degree of reality by powerful technology now, that is because spoken more frequently in the literature of a PC-based work sample from a normal test.


  • Seconds evaluating the results immediately after the implementation (especially from a theoretical perspective important test; distortion of test results prevented by error of assessment; maximum scoring objectivity, higher reliability and objectivity )
  • Dynamics feasible (emails can timed to arrive during the period of performance or a sound file, for example, simulate a call )
  • Complex graphics, sortable tables, charts, as well as video or audio messages can serve as an additional input
  • Validity and the acceptance of exercise significantly increased. Hartung and Schneider (1995 ) found in large-scale questionnaire studies have shown that the difficulty of the content of computer tasks compared to the paper-pencil versions with 72 % was indeed found to be above average sophisticated, the exercises but also for computer laymen easy and safe to use were ( 91%).
  • Increased economy (time saving, objective evaluation)
  • Adaptations of an existing mailbag to a new company or new requirements are faster digitally feasible
  • Realism: IT performance corresponds very today's work environment, which results in an increased face validity and acceptability according to
  • Will be able to process variables recorded (eg saw the approach of the subject over time)
  • Automatic result reports can be created in connection immediately and eg Design will be held in the Corporate
  • No paperwork, better archiving options
  • Data can be quickly calculated in a wider context


  • Original solution strategies take into account difficult, if not held an interview in the port because the answers are largely predetermined and only need to be chosen by the subscriber or free text can be entered, but which is difficult to evaluate
  • Purchase of laptops or PCs required ( depending on how many participants should be tested in parallel )
  • There are hardly any validation studies on in-boxes (one exception is Srbeny, 2008), suggesting its prognostic accuracy appear rather questionable