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Handling Priorities and Sensitive Situations pertains to the ability to identify priority situations or problems and to plan and organize time to insure that such matters are fully addressed; to plan all necessary actions and appropriately delegate responsibilities and/or guide personnel as necessary to insure that priority objectives are met; to identify the interpersonal as well as practical problems associated with responding to or dealing with personnel external to the organization and to plan and formulate a course of action that is appropriate and responsive to the specific demands of the situation, including concerns for efficiency, public relations or sensitive interpersonal issues that could affect the outcome.

Four General Management In-Basket (GMIB) items are used to score this factor and a maximum of four skill descriptions may appear in this report section.

The following are the major characteristics of this assessee's current skill level and managerial style on this factor:

  • Skill Description: Demonstrates average skill in handling situations which are obviously important and sensitive from a public relations perspective and which possess the potential for negative organizational outcomes if not skillfully handled; avoids taking any actions that would be perceived as purposely non-responsive from a public relations perspective; however, demonstrates a tendency to either underestimate the degree of public relations emphasis necessary in formulating an effective plan of action in such situations or simply does not implement a course of action that takes into account all of the issues that are important from a public relations viewpoint.
  • Developmental Areas and Learning Objectives:

    Public Relations/Interpersonal Insight:  Learn to better define the public relations elements of problem situations that arise; learn to utilize public relations approaches which project the appropriate degree of concern and responsiveness; learn to carefully analyze the interpersonal and/or emotional aspects of problem situations and design action strategies which take these elements into account, with the goal of diffusing them to the extent possible; learn to view solutions to problems in terms of both "content" and "process," keeping in mind that solutions which focus only on the "content" of the problem may fail unless the "process" used to implement the solution is also effective and appropriate to the situation.

  • Skill Description:  Demonstrates a need for greater insight into, and understanding of, how to effectively handle situations that require a high degree of interpersonal skill and planning; demonstrates a desire to be responsive to the obvious work-related aspects of such situations, and to take corrective action where this is very important, but either does not tend to perceive or does not effectively deal with the interpersonal elements of these situations in instances where devising a strategy to address the interpersonal problems may be just as important to a successful outcome as correcting the obvious work-related problems.
  • Developmental Areas and Learning Objectives:

    Interpersonal Insight:  Learn to more carefully define complex problem situations to be certain that the interpersonal elements of the situation have been carefully addressed; learn to evaluate the characteristics of the "audience" and/or "the individual person" that is critical to a successful resolution of the problem situation and design action strategies accordingly; learn to evaluate action strategies in terms of the likelihood that they will be perceived by the "audience and/or key person" as responsive, respectful and appropriate to the situation.

  • Skill Description: Demonstrates average understanding of methods for accomplishing critical organizational objectives that should not or cannot be accomplished through own efforts; identifies the need for control of delegated assignments in critical situations; however, tends to engage in some assumptions which may or may not hold true; does not tend to use proper delegation techniques and/or implements a plan that is unlikely to achieve an appropriate degree of control.
  • Developmental Areas and Learning Objectives:

    Delegation and Planning: Learn to consider the nature of each assignment in terms of its priority and whether or not it ought to be accomplished through delegation to a subordinate; learn to consider the nature of each delegated assignment in determining the most appropriate method of delegation, including the kind and type of directions and controls placed upon the individual to whom the delegation is made; develop an understanding of the issues that should be considered in effecting a delegation so that the delegation may be made in an appropriate manner that contributes both to the sense of responsibility inherent in the delegation as well as to the likelihood of ensuring that organizational objectives are met; learn to carefully plan delegations to be certain that all required actions are realistic, feasible, and under your control as the manager.

  • Skill Description:  Demonstrates average skill in dealing with situations in which public relations is a relatively straightforward issue but one which may be obscured or which may appear less important than other issues that are involved; spots public relations issues in such situations and voids taking actions that could lead to negative public relations outcomes; however, does not tend to formulate a course of action that effectively deals with the need for subordinates to utilize or develop these same public relations skills and insights in dealing with situations that are sensitive from a public relations perspective; as a result, does not tend to exercise appropriate management control to ensure that problems in handling sensitive situations are avoided.
  • Developmental Areas and Learning Objectives:

    Performance Assessment/Establishing Expectations:  Learn to assess subordinate performance in various job-related situations in an ongoing manner, with particular attention to whether poor performance is a function of poor skill level, lack of effort and/or a poor attitude; learn to devise action strategies appropriate for each of these situations, setting reasonable expectations of performance as appropriate to the underlying problem, then guiding and motivating subordinates to meet these expectations.

    Holding Subordinates Accountable:  Learn to hold subordinates accountable for those elements of problem situations which they should be able to handle based on their skill level and position in the organization; in particular, learn to avoid actions which convey to subordinates that poor performance and/or poor attitudes will be accepted or reinforced in any way; learn to devise action strategies which keep responsibility for meeting established standards with the subordinate and which require the subordinate to demonstrate a commitment to meeting those standards.

Our In-Basket Exam Prep packages include full-length practice examinations as well as in-depth explanations for each question and corresponding behavior dimensions.  Also included in this exam prep package are: 

  • Elements of an In-Basket
  • Assessment Center Behavior Dimensions
  • Top-Scoring In-Basket Performance Strategies that have proven to be extremely successful for hundreds of promotional candidates

Your investment in these practice examinations could mean the difference between you getting promoted and not.  Don't go into an In-Basket Examination unprepared.

If you would like to review additional promotional exam prep packages, go to our Assessment Center Exam Prep page at the links below:

If you would like to review additional promotional exam prep packages, go to our Assessment Center Exam Prep pages at the links below:

Promotional Oral Interview Exam Prep

Fire Tactical Exam Prep

Subordinate Counseling Exam Prep

Lieutenant/Captain/Battalion/Deputy Chief In-Basket Exam Prep

Leaderless Group Exam Prep

Test-taking Strategies & Career Articles

Don McNea Fire School's Assessment Center Exam Preparation has been put together by Fire Chiefs who are nationally-recognized authors and who have been assessors for thousands of assessment center examinations.

As always, all of our Assessment Center Exam Prep products come with a no-risk guarantee.  If you are not completely satisfied, we will refund 100% of the product cost no questions asked.


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