Deciding on the right career path can be intimidating, no matter where you are in your career journey. Seasoned professionals seeking a promotion or considering a career change can feel as uncertain and tenuous as current students making their first forays into the professional world. Ironically, the veritable ocean of job search information and career advice available online can feel like overwhelming waves rather than a safe harbor, especially since distinguishing valuable insights from counterproductive “tips” can be challenging.
The key to your career journey, like any other adventure, is finding a guide that is reliable. This is the role of the Strong Interest Inventory® (also referred to as the SII®). The SII® is a comprehensive vocational questionnaire assessment that has been refined over the better part of a century to provide job seekers the insights they need to find fields and careers that complement their internal need for occupational and/or college satisfaction, leveraging their strengths, and fulfilling their preferences. In addition to serving as a professional compass, the SII® also functions as a map, which can help identify areas of growth and development necessary to be hired in a wanted position. With the Strong Interest Inventory®, you can confidently navigate your career exploration experience and take control of your professional trajectory.
How is the Strong Interest Inventory® Different?
The Strong Interest Inventory® differs from many other career assessments in two important ways. First of all, the SII® is neither an aptitude test nor a personality test. In other words, the SII® does not have the capacity to determine whether an individual has the subject matter expertise to be successful in a specific field. In addition, the SII does not focus exclusively or primarily on innate personality traits such as introversion versus extroversion. For instance, the SII may suggest someone consider pursuing a career as an accountant because they enjoy or are attracted to careers that entail being detail-oriented and logical, while thriving in highly structured environments, but it cannot determine if that person has the necessary familiarity or education with finance or mathematics needed to be successful in that field.
The Strong Interest Inventory Assessment does indeed help you with choosing the required education and related training for said careers utilizing both the report itself as well as a sister website entitled O’NetOnline– a government database which works hand and hand with the SII®, providing a plethora of statistics for thousands of careers. These careers are easily navigable using your provided Interest Theme Code from your SII® Results provided to you by Career Assessment Site. The second feature that sets the Strong Interest Inventory® apart from other similar assessments is that once the analysis is complete, it guides job seekers towards categories of not only their top 10 careers but also towards similar and related careers as opposed to solely matching them to only one career that is said to be the perfect single career that is the best fit for them.
The SII® further provides and assesses for numerous interest areas as well as for your preferred learning environment. While additionally, assessing for your preferred work activities, values, how you prefer to lead, and potential skills as related to your resulting interest categories. The SII also compares your interest preferences with those interests that individuals prefer who function in certain careers. This carries the theory that if an individual in a certain career shares the same or very similar interests to you and is happy and fulfilled in their career, you might also be content in that same career considering other assessed factors as well when assessing your career and interested in a holistic point of view.
How do you use the Strong Interest Inventory?
The SII works through a simple process. As the first step, job seekers must take a survey-style assessment that gauges their professional preferences in several different areas. The SII asks questions about preferred workplace style (e.g., whether one prefers to work individually or to work with others to achieve a common goal), working environment (e.g., whether one would prefer to work within a “flat” organization or in one with a defined hierarchy and chain of command), and schedule (e.g., whether one prefers the structure of defined working hours or the flexibility of setting one’s own hours). In addition, the SII also gauges interests, such as whether one is interested in solving problems, writing various types of articles or manuscripts, and mentoring others. These are just a few examples of the kinds of questions the SII includes. Most of the questions allow for five Likert-style responses: Strongly Like, Like, Indifferent, Dislike, and Strongly Dislike. Using five gradations rather than three allows for more granular responses and therefore a more nuanced analysis.
What are the Strong Interest Inventory question categories?
To better understand how the Strong Interest Inventory® is organized, it is helpful to take a closer look at the four analytical categories of questions it contains. Some questions may delve into more than one of these categories, but every question addresses at least one:
- The General Occupational Themes (GOT):These themes help organize the Strong Interest Inventory Profile, and they measure the job seeker’s general attitude toward broad interest fields.
- The Basic Interest Scales (BIS): These scales provide insights into the GOTs and can help explain high and low GOT scores by measuring one’s proclivity for specific activities or interests.
- The Occupational Scales (OS): These are the original scales that were developed by E. K. Strong Jr. These are the backbone of the Strong Interest Inventory.
- The Personal Style Scales (PSS):These scales were added during the 1994 revision of the SII. They look beyond general preferences for living and working by including considerations such as a penchant for management roles, risk-taking, learning styles, and more.
How does the SII analysis work?
Once all of the responses are collected, the SII analyses them from a statistical standpoint and also compares them to a robust database of survey results from working professionals. By identifying which professionals respond to the survey questions in ways similar to job seekers, the SII can recommend careers that may be good fits.
How does the SII organize careers?
Unlike some career tests, the SII does not recommend just a few careers because doing so can make job seekers feel limited or pigeon-holed rather than empowered. The SII recommends your top ten careers as well as your careers of least interest and directs individuals to look closer at one or more of six career categories, each of which shares certain characteristics, such as areas of expertise, typical workplace structure, and more. The six categories are: Realistic, Artistic, Investigative, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Collectively, these six areas are generally referred to using the acronym RAISEC. They are often displayed as a hexagon, with “opposite” categories on opposing vertices of the hexagon.
Realistic: The Realistic theme is centered on physical activities, especially those that involve a practical connection to the real world. The SII may recommend you consider Realistic careers if you think logically, enjoy working with your hands to create things or solve problems, or prefer to work relatively independently either in a small business or within a larger company hierarchy. Examples of Realistic careers include carpenters, engineers, and electricians.
Artistic: The Artistic theme focuses on the visual, performing, and culinary arts as well as literature and other pursuits associated with individual self-expression. Those drawn to artistic careers might be interested in their creation, experience, critique, and analysis. Examples of Artistic careers include chefs, dancers, musicians, actors, and directors.
Investigative: The Investigative theme relates to analysis and research, and it tends to attract people with a proclivity for the sciences as well as university or higher education contexts. Such people are comfortable with loosely-structured work environments and creating their own areas of inquiry. They are also usually equally talented in conducting the research itself as well as in communicating their findings either via written or oral presentation. Computer scientists, physicians, and professors are all examples of Investigative careers.
Social: The Social theme involves caring for others or helping them reach their potential. People who are drawn to Social careers are deeply invested in people. They tend to feel fulfilled while they are themselves fulfilling others. As a result, they typically prefer workplace environments and roles that involve education, mentoring, community outreach, or professional development. Examples of Social careers include teachers, nurses, and social workers.
Enterprising: The Enterprising theme is centered on managing people, selling products and properties, and persuading others that one’s own position or beliefs are correct. People interested in Enterprising careers are typically driven by status and drawn to leadership positions. They are motivated by “winning” and traditional notions of success, and they are often highly competitive in their professional as well as personal lives. Examples of Enterprising careers include realtors, sales or marketing managers, and travel consultants.
Conventional: The Conventional theme hinges on organizing data, items, or people. Many Conventional occupations are related to data processing or accounting, and most of them involve an acute attention to detail. People who are drawn to the Conventional theme tend to be “Type A” personalities, who thrive in structured workplace environments with defined roles and responsibilities. Examples of Conventional careers are bankers, paralegals, and bookkeepers.
What do SII results look like?
In addition to a detailed statistical analysis, the SII will recommend that you consider careers in one or more of the RAISEC categories. For instance, if your responses are similar to those of working professionals in Realistic careers, then it may recommend that you look more closely at that category. It can also help you narrow your search based on your Basic Interest Scales, since the SII database has over 100 different careers and makes distinctions within fields (e.g., lawyers, paralegals, and judges are all different careers within law; doctors, nurses, physician assistants, and surgeons are all different careers within medicine). Because of this granularity, the SII can provide more detailed recommendations than many other career assessments on the market.
In other words, the SII provides job seekers with a comprehensive picture of how their responses map onto careers and areas of specialization. Instead of simply providing your “highest” scores or “best fit” careers, the SII helps job seekers identify patterns in themselves as well as in various careers.
An additional component of the Strong Interest Inventory®, which some may find beneficial, is the number of indexes that provide insights into atypical profiles which may not neatly align with the SII scales themselves.
The Strong Interest Inventory® combines an impressive statistical analysis with clarity of design and actionable insights, and it has become the gold standard for career consulting. It has helped tens of thousands of people find new careers, and it could help you too.
For More Information on Strong Interest Inventory® careers and their corresponding career Theme Codes, please visit our Strong Interest Inventory Career Resource