A frequently used evaluation component is the letterbox exercise , sometimes also called ‘in the basket’. This exercise is used very often, especially in management evaluations.

What is a letterbox exercise?
In a letterbox exercise you are given a full mailbox or inbox, digital or analogue. You are the manager to whom received mail is addressed, and your job is to deal with the mail in the allotted time.

What do you do yourself that you delegate?
There is certainly not enough time to deal with all the mail yourself, so some tasks will have to be delegated. In advance, you will be given more information about the organisation you are applying to work for. Who does what in the organisation and who is responsible for what? Based on this information you can delegate tasks to others, so you do not have to decide everything yourself.

What is urgent and what can wait?
Not all mail that arrives will be equally urgent. You are likely to come across important urgent matters, small memos and questions that can wait or are not meant for you. Make a clear distinction between what needs to happen now and what can wait for a while, and outline how you will deal with problems. Try to correctly assess the urgency of incoming messages and always deal with urgent matters first.

After the exercise, the evaluator will discuss your notes and working methods with you. You will be asked why you made certain decisions. Make sure you have a strong argument for the way you handled the mailbox.

Another component of assessments is fact-finding .