The Strong Interest Inventory has been used for decades in career, high school, and college counseling. This Level-B psychological instrument provides both interests as well as interest patterns, using an individual’s results to help one find a career or academic pursuit that best suits them.

However, just taking the assessment will only provide you with a half-baked insight. The interpretation of the assessment results—rather than the assessment results itself—is where the Strong Interest Inventory ultimately adds value. Without a professional interpretation of one’s results, the information and data- that is, the collection of scores and scales, can be difficult to self-interpret, especially when reviewing the data-rich sections of the report.

How Do You Interpret The Strong Interest Inventory® Assessment

Gain a deeper understanding of how to interpret the Strong Interest Inventory Assessment.

The Strong Interest Inventory can be taken by persons with a ninth grade reading level and though the Strong Interest Inventory assessment can be taken by the general public, the assessment must be provided and administered (usually online) and interpreted by educationally qualified professionals who hold a master’s degree or Ph.D. in Psychology or a related field. Often, psychologists, therapists, and career counselors will utilize The Strong Interest Inventory as part of their practice. An individual who is a certified Strong Interest Inventory practitioner is not required to have a postgraduate degree, master’s, or Ph.D. Certified practitioners have attended and completed an online or in-person certification program normally provided by the publisher of the assessment or one of their partners.

All individuals administrating The Strong must be level-B certified for psychometric testing as well as have access to the online portal unless going through a third party, such as an online website administrator . Most counselors and other professionals prefer to use a third party for assessment administration so that they do not have to create an account, set up an online portal, create and download reports,  send links to their clients to complete their assessments, follow up on their clients’ progress which could also entail sensing an additional reminder link as well as pay a yearly fee to do so. When using a substantive online administrator, all of these items listed above should be included at no additional charge. Additionally and most importantly, when using an online administrator, be sure that an interpretation of your or your participant’s results are included at no extra cost. 


It is considered that the SII is most effective when the individual who took the assessment is properly prepared for administration, and the certified/qualified professional is well-versed in the interpretation process and can ensure a thorough discussion and exploration of the respondent’s results.

  • Revisiting the goal and objective of the Strong Interest Inventory Assessment.

Prior to taking the assessment, respondents are given instructions and important information on how to complete the assessment. However, it is still imperative to reiterate important information at the start of the interpretation session such as:

    • The Strong measures interests and it is not an aptitude assessment it does not measure skills or abilities.
    • Career development is not something that happens right away or just after the interpretation session. It is a meticulously continual lifetime development.
    • Strong results will provide extensive and useful information; however, certain external items should be considered such as education, abilities, experience, etc.

(Donnay, D et al. CPP Inc, 2005 P.167 Figure 8.2)

  • Explain how the assessment can help the respondents explore their interests.

Completing a proper orientation and introduction of the report(s), while explaining the main objectives of the assessment itself, is vital. The questions that arise during this process between the interpreter and client can be used as a tool for the career exploration interpretation session.  Depending on the respondent’s goals and objectives, the interpreter will gain insight via the initial part of the session and in-turn will build a good rapport with the respondent and create an effective approach on how to conduct a thorough discussion. The SII results can be used for career exploration and development, college major preparation, work training programs, leisure pursuits that match their interests, and more.  It is important that the respondent is administered the correct version of the Strong assessment that matches their current life pursuits.

  • Establish the clients’ state of mind at the time of completing the assessment.

Acknowledging the respondent’s mood while completing the assessment is vital when it comes to analyzing the results. Establishing an environment whereas the responded can feel secure while expressing themselves by asking probing questions such as “did you find it easy to answer the questions included in the assessment?” or “did some of the questions confuse you”? Probing questions when beginning the consultation will not only help the respondent feel more comfortable but it can help the interpreter understand respondents and their results more effectively. Any extreme emotion at the time of completing the Strong Interest assessment can reflect the Profile Score and Response Summary which can lead to a possible re-administration of the assessment.

  • Ensure that the respondents know that they still need to decide how accurate the results are.

Just like with any career exploration assessment, the respondents will have the final decision on whether they feel the results are appropriate. In certain cases, respondents will question their results, and although the interpreter’s job is the make sure that every aspect of the inventory is explained, it is still left to the respondent’s discretion whether results do or do not resonate. This can also lead to further discussion and the use of other interpretation strategies.


  • Exploring the development of the Strong Interest Inventory Assessment.

As a good practice, it is important to provide a short history of the Strong Interest Inventory.  Discussing the origin and development of the Holland Theme Code provides insight into how the respondent score can fall into six interest themes, the RIASEC Theme Code. It is beneficial for the respondents that an understanding of the difference and description of these six theme codes.

  • General Occupational Scales – Provide an Initial glimpse of respondent’s general interests

The General Occupational Theme Code (GOT) is a birds-eye view of respondents’ interests. When it comes to analyzing GOTs, it is important to highlight the respondent’s highest generated theme codes or each theme code for which they scored High or Very High. This can also identify if respondents have diametrical interests or opposing high scores on themes within the RIASEC Hexagon, which can be a good indicator of conflicting interests or confusion on vocational choices. If so, the interpreter needs to create strategies for satisfying these opposing results.

  • Basic Interest Scale – Discover respondent’s interest patterns.

The Basic Interest Scales of the Strong Interest Inventory Profile can help respondents discover their interest patterns. This section contains the more focused aspects of The General Occupational Themes.  It is good practice to consider the respondent’s “Top Five Basic Interest Areas” which are the highest scored Basic Interest Scales of the 30 total BISs that The Strong Interest Inventory Profile Assessment evaluates.

  • Occupational Scale – Explore potential satisfying occupations.

Occupational Scale (OS) scores are interpreted differently than the GOTs and BIS’s. It shows the 10 most similar occupations for the respondents as well as the 5 least similar. The OS covers 130 occupations, with male and female samples. When analyzing these results, it is important to note that these occupations represented by similar and dissimilar are chosen by comparing a sample size of persons who share the same gender and who currently consider themselves happy and content in their current careers.  Therefore, respondent’s satisfying careers are chosen by how their comparative interest scores align to the individuals who claim to be satisfied in their careers.

This hypothesis is that if individuals in a certain career are satisfied and share the same interests as the respondent then there is a good chance the respondent might also be satisfied in that career.  Additionally, the Top 10 occupations are hyperlinked to O*net online which is a government career database that can provide a full description of the career fields.

  • Personal Style Scale – Determine the five environment preferences
    The Personal Style Scales or PSSs show how the respondent would like to work or learn. This basically measures the work environment preferences in two diametrically opposing preferences. It is important to note, that these are preferences, and no results are better than the other.

Gender neutrality note for interpreters

 A note for interpreters is that the traditional Strong Interest Inventory is gender biased with male and female options when generating results/reports. However, both a male and female reports for one person can be generated to help with the interpretation for a gender-neutral individual. However, for gender neutrality, the new Strong Interest Inventory 244 is non-gender biased and should be used for gender neutrality.


  • Analyzing the respondent’s theme code.

With the data from different scales, the interpreter should establish an overall pattern of interests. One can start with identifying the highest GOT and cross-reference it with the BISs, OSs, and PSSs. In “consistent Profiles”, respondents are directly pointing to similar interest areas, however, in some cases, the results can show inconsistencies. Inconsistent results can be a good indicator for more in-depth discussion and thorough exploration.

  • Further exploration of occupational possibilities.

When it comes to these assessments, it is highly encouraged to explore every possibility and opportunity so that the respondents can use their results in the most robust manner. Make sure that the respondent understands that there are other factors they need to consider when it comes to applications of these results.  Interests evolve over time, so it is vital to back it up with self-reflection and career planning.

When it comes to the SII assessment as well as the interpretation, we should understand that results vary and differ from one another, and the interpretation session should be personalized and dynamic. The important thing to remember is that when taking the Strong Interest Inventory, it should be administered from a licensed and certified professional who takes great care in the administration process, interpretation session(s), customer service and client satisfaction.