The Career Quiz

Can quick magazine style tests help your career change?

The career quiz is a common feature in magazines and on websites.

These free career tests are often written by journalists with little or no help from occupational psychologists or career coaches. This means that they are much less likely to give you results that are accurate and a really solid measure of the kind of person you are or any abilities you may have. And you may well find that your results come out differently on different days, depending on how you are feeling.

But hey, they are quick and fun to do – so why not?

How do they work?

Checklist of completed tasks, with green felt pen

A magazine or online quiz or test will usually consist of a relatively short selection of questions, often asking you about how you would respond in certain situations.

Then you usually have a choice of 3-5 answers that are used to group you into categories. The quiz writers often start with the answers and then design questions to lead to their chosen categories.

I don’t know about you, but I often find with a career quiz or something similar, that I find myself thinking

‘I wouldn’t respond in any of these ways’

or maybe

‘It depends on the circumstances as to how I would answer’.

Then when you look at the answers, you find that you have scored across several categories, so no single ‘answer’ really fits for you.

The answers can also be written in very broad terms so you don’t always feel that you have learned anything very new about yourself.

It can be a bit frustrating, especially if you are feeling in need of some serious help with career change options.

So what are the benefits?

In spite of their shortcomings, career quizzes can still be useful tools.

Often the main benefit is not so much in the results of the quiz – take them with a pinch of salt! What is important is just getting you thinking about the key issues they raise.

There might be one question in the whole quiz that somehow hits the spot for you and gets you thinking.

Career changers can easily get stuck when planning a move because they just don’t ask the right questions. A simple quiz can sometimes ask things that lead you to the ‘aha!’ moment that moves you forwards.

So next time you are tempted by the prospect of a free career planning test online, give it a try and use the questions to help you think about your career.

But don’t take the results too seriously!

So don’t necessarily regard the career quiz as too superficial. Both formal and informal career assessment tests are useful in their own way.

If you can only afford a magazine, a book from the local bookshop or a skim around the internet, you can still get some value, provided you are prepared to answer the tests thoughtfully and think carefully about both the questions and answers. 

About the author

Amy Thomas

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