Using Career Tests To Explore Your Interests

Let your interests direct your career change

Career tests looking at interests are often used by career professionals as part of a career choice or career change process.

They are designed to measure what aspects of work attract you and so will give a measure of your motivation for different kinds of work.

What you are interested in, what drives and motivates you is an important aspect of what makes you unique and you will need to understand this facet of your make-up when you are exploring career change options.

What to expect of career interest tests

The questions in these kinds of tests are likely to be straightforward ones which simple ask you to indicate your level of enjoyment of different activities eg

Do you enjoy working outdoors?

  • Would you like to help teach or train people?
  • Do you like being creative?

Or the questions may sometimes be paired so you have to state a preference eg Would you rather…

Analyse financial data Or Design new computer programs

By forcing you to choose between pairs over a series of questions, then your most and least preferred activities become apparent.

As with personality test, there are no right or wrong answers to these types of questionnaires.

What kind of results do you get from these career tests?

The results will be categorised differently according to the test you are doing. There are many different ways of grouping career interests, but one of the most popular is the system devised by John Holland. He classified career interests in the following 6 groups or Holland Codes:

R – Realistic
I – Investigative
A – Artistic
S – Social
E – Enterprising
C – Conventional

You are unlikely to have just one dominant area of interest from the above six, but by looking at combinations of interests, it is possible to identify jobs that may appeal.

For example, look at how the following jobs are coded. The dominant interest area comes first, but other interests play a part:

  • Civil Engineer – RIC
  • Finance Analyst – ICE
  • Fashion Designer – AER
  • Social Worker – SAE
  • Conference Planner – ECS
  • Insurance Claims Assessor – CRE

The Strong Interest Inventory is a popular interest guide that uses the categories devised by John Holland.

Another way of categorising interests is the approach used by the Advanced Occupational Interest Inventory.

  • People – divided into caring and influence
  • Data – divided into organisational/procedural, verbal and non verbal
  • Practical – divided into creative, scientific and engineering

The reports that result from career interest tests usually offer either or both of the following:

  • lists of preferred occupational categories to help you explore broad career areas
  • lists of suggested occupations which are indicated from the interests you have expressed

So when you are exploring changing careers, don’t forget to consider the help that career tests and interest guides can offer. They all help to build up the picture of you that will enable you to make your career change with confidence.

For another, less structured approach to exploring your interests

click here

About the author

Amy Thomas

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