About the Strong Interest Inventory
History Of The Strong Interest Inventory® Test
The Strong Interest Inventory® Test is a psychological instrument that began its formation in the years following World War I through the work of E.K. Strong, Jr. Strong went on to publish the first version of the Inventory in 1927. The purpose of the Inventory was based around studying the occupational interests of men and women. Major revisions occurred in 1981 and 1985 through the work of Jo-Ida Hansen and in 1994 thanks to the work of Lenore Harmon and Fred Borgen. These major revisions created opportunities to update and revise the main sections of the instrument. Two additional sections were also added to further increase the depth and accuracy of the assessment. The current 2004 Edition represents a revolutionary step forward for the assessment, with updates and revisions to every major section of the instrument, and is considered today to be the most well-investigated and universal interest inventory. In addition to the 2004 overhaul, the Occupational Scales received a more recent revision in 2012. New data gathered with the help of 21st century digital-age technology has allowed CPP to provide a more accurate representation of the general population’s interests. Changes to the response options on the assessment have also assisted in providing a more accurate and varied representation of results.
What Is The Strong Interest Inventory® Test?
The Strong Interest Inventory® test is an assessment that helps people match their interests with potential educational, career, and leisure activities, using an individual’s preferences in a variety of areas to aid them in discovering what they’d most enjoy doing with their work and their free time. Each career option and college major category has a set of interest themes associated with them. Based on your answers (and the answers of those surveyed when the assessment was updated), you will score higher or lower on those scales. More important than the definitive scales that you score high on are the patterns between your likes and dislikes, and what they mean when looked at altogether. When you receive your inventory, you’ll be given a clear insight into which sorts of activities and subjects you prefer, along with a brief interpretation of these results.
The Strong Interest Inventory Test is further broken down into four categories:
- The General Occupational Themes: Created to provide an economical organization for the Strong Interest Inventory Profile, detailing an individual’s general attitude toward specific broad interest fields.
- The Basic Interest Scales: Created to provide additional means of explaining high and low scores on the General Occupational Theme Scales through measuring an individual’s penchant for certain subject areas and activities.
- The Occupational Scales: The original scales developed by E. K. Strong Jr. that form the foundation of the Strong Interest Inventory test, which relate specific occupations with various interests and qualities that individuals in each occupation identify with.
- The Personal Style Scales: The newest additions to the inventory starting with the 1994 edition. Added to provide a means to measure comfort with broad styles of living and working, including areas such as how a person prefers to be taught, how an individual finds that they best accomplish tasks related to work and whether they prefer working alone or with other people, how an individual feels about taking a management role, and how an individual feels about taking risks.
A final component of the Strong Interest Inventory is a series of indexes that allow interpreters and individuals to understand more atypical profiles that may not conform directly with the scales of the Strong Interest Inventory.
The information gathered from these scales comes together to provide you with a picture of where your interests lie and which jobs or school majors match these interests. Each scale is ranked by the individual’s scores, so you aren’t simply told your highest scores—you’ll see specific patterns that come with your Strong Interest Inventory (such as what your second highest scale was, which can still contribute to your ideal occupational path). The standard Strong Interest Inventory Profile features information on career paths, interests, risk-taking preferences, leadership styles, learning environments, work styles, and team orientation. If you are interested in college-based information, we also provide a Strong Interest Inventory College Edition Profile. This profile adds an additional section that lists typical college majors, recommended college courses, further college preparation recommendations, and learning and studying tips.
Strong Interest Inventory® General Occupational Themes
The Strong Interest Inventory® starts with six General Occupational Themes. They were born from an overwhelming need for organization as the Strong Interest Inventory expanded to include exponentially more potential occupations for those taking the test. The structure of these themes also makes it easy to add other occupations as various updates occur to the Strong Interest Inventory.
These scales give you a bird’s eye view of your interests. These interests not only include your interests in different components of each scale, but also an interest in the type of environment that each scale represents. They include Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional categories. Depending on your answers, you can be categorized by a one-, two-, or three-letter General Occupational Code. For example, if you score high in Realistic, Investigative, and Conventional, your code would be RIC. Some Occupational Themes are more closely related than others, which means that some individuals may score equally in two different scales. For example, the Social and the Enterprising scales are more closely related than Enterprising and Investigative, so it is not uncommon for an individual to score highly in both. On the other hand, it is also possible that an individual will score highly in an Occupational Theme that they may not see a correlation between all interests of that theme—this just goes to show that very rarely are there individuals that are considered “pure” types, meaning that they fulfill all facets of a specific theme.
The Strong Interest Inventory test Realistic theme is based around constructing, building, repairing, working outdoors, being physical, and overall using their bodies and minds to fulfill certain duties. You are also likely to score high on the Realistic theme if you enjoy physical activity and being adventurous. You might also score high on the Realistic theme if you enjoy working with tools, computers, computer networks, and machines. Those who score highly in this theme usually prefer to find solutions to clearly defined problems—seeing the world more in black and white than in shades of gray. The Realistic Theme is also generally associated with taking risks, preferring concrete dilemmas and working with data as opposed to abstract issues and research.
Individuals who score highly in the Realistic Theme are usually good at problem solving using specified tools; are strong due to their affinity for physical activity; are logical and intelligent; and are adept at understanding how things works the way they do. They enjoy occupations that require specific skills such as working with machinery, computers and heavy equipment. As far as work environments go, Realistic Theme individuals will often find themselves in fields such as construction, product manufacturing and other technical environments. They prefer to work mostly on their own, with a specified hierarchy of individuals in the company.
Typical jobs for Realistic-favoring individuals include:
- Automobile Mechanic
- Engineering Technician
- Law Enforcement Officer
Realistic individuals enjoy hobbies that include but are not limited to:
- Taking things apart to see how they work, and then putting them back together
- Repairing cars
- Repairing machines
- Mountain climbing
- Reading magazines and books about sports, cars and outdoors
The Strong Interest Inventory assessment Investigative theme is based around researching, analyzing, and inquiring. People associated with this theme have a strong scientific and inquiring orientation. Individuals that score high on this theme tend to be comfortable in academic or research environments. They also like to uncover new facts and interpret data.
During their time at work, those who score highly in the Investigative Theme enjoy completing more abstract tasks that involve critical thinking, working on experiments or research in a laboratory, accumulating and structuring data that they find, analyzing their research and solving problems. They are usually skilled in various scientific and mathematical areas, while also showing strength in writing. They are rather independent individuals who prefer to work on their own terms and by themselves, and usually keep to themselves in the workplace. Along with their independent working styles, high scorers in the Investigative Theme need a certain level of flexibility in their work environment that allows for accommodation of a variety of working styles. They usually find themselves working in areas such as computer companies, medical institutions, universities and laboratories.
Typical jobs for Investigative-favoring individuals include:
- Computer Scientist
- University Professor
Investigative individuals enjoy hobbies that include but are not limited to:
- Scuba diving
We mention work as a hobby because Investigative-focused individuals tend to have their work take the place of their hobbies, and it is not uncommon for them to work 12-14 hour days.
The Strong Interest Inventory test Artistic theme is all about creating and enjoying Art, Drama, Music, and Writing. It’s associated with individuals that have a great need for expression. Those scoring high in Artistic can enjoy art both as a participant and as a spectator.
Because of their position as both participant and spectator, it is often commons for those who score highly in the Artistic Theme to enjoy all of the components of art in both the work place and in their leisure time, meaning that they often surround themselves with artistic ventures and activities.
The Artistic theme can be expressed in the following art forms:
- Visual Art & Design
- Performing Arts
- Culinary Arts
- Writing and Mass Communication
Although there are varying types of artistic forms that an individual may be interested in, all of these subcategories involve similar typical work activities and overall interests. For example, the four art forms of the Artistic Theme all involve creating something at the workplace, whether that be writing up an article or sculpting a new piece for an exhibit. Many individuals also find themselves drawn to activities that involve them being in front of an audience, whether they are acting or playing a musical instrument. They possess good linguistic skills, and are usually good at communicating effectively. These individuals are nonconformist, choosing to be themselves over following any pre-conceived societal standard, and are often in touch with their feelings and the beauty of the world around them.
As far as work environments go, those who score high in the Artistic theme of the Strong Interest Inventory prefer adaptable and accommodating schedules and structures, needing their freedom to express themselves as they see fit. They are often associated with occupations that allow them to create their specific form of art, whether that means that they work in an art studio, a museum, a gallery, or a design firm. It is also common for these individuals to teach their specific art form to others through occupations in universities or art institutes.
Individuals that favor the Artistic theme are also apt to express their Artistic preferences not only in work environments, but also in their leisure and recreational activities.
Typical jobs for Artistic-favoring individuals include:
- Broadcast Journalist
- Graphic Designer
Their hobbies may overlap with their job preferences and include but are not limited to activities such as:
- Attending dance or musical concerts
- Playing an instrument
- Writing poetry or stories
- Collecting art
The Strong Interest Inventory assessment Social theme revolves around helping, instructing, and care giving. Individuals that score high on the Social theme tend to like working with people directly and in groups more than those that prefer the Realistic, Investigative, or Artistic theme. Their likening for group work is due in part to the idea of shared responsibilities and working together, with clear duties for each person even in collaboration. They tend to gravitate to teaching professions and feel comfortable being the center of attention in a group setting, especially if their work involves instructing or nurturing the younger generation. They problem solve through discussions of feelings. In addition, interactions with others are focal points of related occupations. Their work environment preferences are often those of education or outreach, but high scores in the Social theme are also known to work in areas that involve training or hiring others or caring for the sick.
High scorers in the Social theme enjoy completing work that involves instructing or educating others in certain topics, tasks, or subjects. They are outgoing, in that they aren’t afraid to stand and speak in front of a crowd, and are succinct when speaking publicly. Their verbal skills also extend to their interpersonal interactions, as they are often very good at sympathizing with others or listening to others in their time of need. They follow rules, are generous and appreciative, friendly and often outwardly happy.
Typical jobs for Social favoring individuals include:
- Elementary School Teacher
- Registered Nurse
- Speech Pathologist
- Social Worker
- School Counselor
- Physical Therapist
- Social Science Teacher
Social individuals enjoy hobbies that include but are not limited to:
- Volunteer and community service work
- Organizing social events like neighborhood parties and excursions
- Attending conventions
- Entertaining others
The Strong Interest Inventory test Enterprising theme revolves around selling, managing and persuading. Individuals that score high in Enterprising tend to seek positions of power, status, and leadership. Oftentimes, they enjoy working a group setting where everyone works together to reach a fiscal or end goal, oftentimes with the high scorer in the Enterprising theme leading the way. They tend to be well suited for selling and leading, with a focus on economic success. This theme is opposite of the Investigative theme. Individuals that prefer the Enterprising theme generally dislike scientific activities. These individuals also tend to be more comfortable in taking financial and interpersonal risks in order to meet their goals—they also have a competitive nature both in the workforce and in their personal lives.
Those who score high in the Enterprising Theme can often be found persuading, leading discussion or talks, managing others, or making their clients happy on a typical workday. They are often described as having a high level of energy and confidence, as well as a healthy level of optimism. They are organized and are always aware of the task and goal at hand, while still being adventurous with their ideas and willing to take risks to be successful. They can typically be found in work environments such as government, larger corporations, financial institutions, private businesses and large for-profit firms.
Typical jobs for Enterprising-favoring individuals include:
- Sales Manager
- Investment Manager
- Marketing Manager
- Travel Guide
- Restaurant Manager
Enterprising individuals enjoy hobbies that include but are not limited to:
- Political activities
- Attending conventions
- Belonging to clubs and organizations
- Entertaining and socializing
- Competitive fun, such as sports
The Strong Interest Inventory assessment Conventional theme centers on accounting, organizing, and processing data, often leaning toward occupations that involve mathematics and data management. This also can involve dealing with computer programming, working with different software, or other electronic management systems. Those that prefer the Conventional theme value activities that require organization, detail, and accuracy. This is a direct contrast to those that prefer the Artistic theme, who value unstructured and creative tasks. Similar to those preferring Enterprising, they work well in large organizations, but differ in that they prefer to work with ideas and data over people-oriented occupations.
At work, those who score highly in the Conventional theme often enjoy analyzing financial data, developing office protocols, keeping detailed accounts of all money spent, structuring data in an easy-to-read format, writing computer software, and projecting financial trends. They are adept at organizing, solving mathematical problems, dealing with functional computer operations, and seeking out details. They are methodical, controlled and careful with their belongings and finances. As far as their work environments go, those who score highly in the Conventional theme enjoy working in office settings for larger corporations or institutions that handle money, such as banks, accounting firms, or credit companies. They prefer that their work hierarchy be very well defined and structured as well.
Typical jobs for Conventional-favoring individuals include:
- Computer Systems Analyst
- Administrative Assistant
- Office manager
Conventional individuals enjoy hobbies that include but are not limited to:
- Collecting items, such as stamps or coins
- Games with clear cut rules
- Home improvement projects
- Building things with clear instructions
Strong Interest Inventory® Occupational Scales
After the General Occupational Themes, The Strong Interest Inventory test includes 122 gender specific (for a total of 244) Occupational Scales. They, unlike the broader General Occupational Themes and Basic Interest scales, are very specific, answering the question “Does the respondent have likes and dislikes similar to women or men in this occupation?” generating individualized information for each person who completes the Strong Interest Inventory®. Occupational Scales are most beneficial for those who are trying to decide what educational path to take for their career, whether or not they should change their career, or what job they should start out in, all of which are inherently connected.
Examples of Occupational Scales include but are not limited to:
- Health Informational Specialist
- Network Administrator
- Social Science Teacher
These scales work in a different way than both the General Occupational Themes and the Basic Interest Scales (which are discussed further below). The other scales take your likes/dislikes and match them to scales that match those preferences. The Occupational Scales compare your results to the results of others in a specific occupational field, keeping in mind your gender (for both societal differences and occupationally related differences, although some correlations of certain occupations are quite high). Other factors that are considered as well include ethnicity and cultural differences.
An example can help illustrate this point:
Let’s take the “Mathematician” Occupational Scale as an example. First, the creators of the Strong Interest Inventory test took the results of verified mathematicians and compared them to the results of the rest of the individuals who took the assessment. It’s obvious that a mathematician would “like” items that are directly related to Math, so the key point was finding patterns that differentiated the mathematicians from the rest of the general sample. For example, if a high proportion of mathematicians had answered “like” to “watching sporting events” compared to the general sample of respondents, then that item would be associated with the Mathematician Occupational Scale. This process is repeated until all the questions on the Strong Interest Inventory assessment are covered and a “Mathematician” specific answer key is created. So, in order to score high on the “Mathematician” scale, you would have to like and dislike similar things that “Mathematicians” like and dislike. This makes sense and allows individuals to see if they like or dislike similar things to people in a specific career field. It is entirely possible, and common, for you to score high on certain scales based off of your General Occupational themes and Basic Interest Scales, while also scoring low on a related Occupational Scale. This generally means that you have interest in a field, but your likes and dislikes don’t necessarily match those of others in that field. This does not mean that you can’t be successful in said field, but it’s something to keep under consideration while exploring career options. (Donnay, D et al. CPP, 2005)
Strong Interest Inventory® Basic Interest Scales
In addition to the Occupational Scales, the Strong Interest Inventory test includes 30 Basic Interest Scales. The Basic Interest Scales were created as a means to improve the understanding of the Occupational Scales. They can also be seen as closely related to the General Occupational Themes. In fact, they are built in a very similar method to the General Occupational Themes, with each Basic Interest Scale falling under a broader category related to a General Occupational Theme. The scale categories are more focused than the General Occupational Themes, but less than the Occupational Scales.
As an example, the Protective Services Basic Interest Scale is related to the Realistic General Occupational Themes. In addition, the Protective Services scale includes professions that have their own, more specific Occupational Scales such as Military Enlisted and Law Enforcement Officer. Scaling from broadest to most narrow focus, we would have Realistic Theme, then Protective Services Basic Interest Scale, and finally Law Enforcement Officer as the narrowest and most specific scale. This sort of narrowing down of the scale is especially important in those Occupational Themes that encompass such a wide variety of Basic Interest skills; this can be seen well with the Artistic Occupational Theme, which is broken down into Visual Arts & Design, Performing Arts, Culinary Arts, and Writing and Mass Communications. These Basic Interests, although related all under the umbrella of “art,” are incredibly different, and chances are someone who prefers the performing arts is not necessarily going to be adept at design.
The Basic Interest Scales are based off of the General Occupational Themes, with each scale existing underneath one of the six broad General Occupational Themes.
The Realistic Theme is broken into six different Basic Interest Scales, including Mechanics & Construction (for those who work well with their hands and/or with machinery) Computer Hardware & Electronics (for those who enjoy repairing electronic equipment or solving computer problems), Military (for those who enjoy structured environments and chains of command), Protective Services (for those who enjoy acts of public safety and policing), Nature & Agriculture (for those who work well in farming or ranching settings, or outdoor work) and Athletics (for those who enjoy sports and staying active).
The Investigative Theme is divided into four Basic Interest Scales, including Science (for those who work best with logic and show an interest in the natural and physical sciences), Research (for those who enjoy the act of formulating and conducting studies to establish patterns and uncover facts), Medical Science (for those who not only hold an interest in the physical sciences, but also enjoy helping others with their skills) and Mathematics (for those who prefer numbers and statistical analyses).
The Artistic Theme is broken down into four Basic Interest Scales, including Visual Arts & Design (for those who use spatial reasoning and find pleasure in visual creativity and the creation of art), Performing Arts (for those who work best in front of or a part of an audience, whether in musical or theatrical terms), Writing and Mass Communications (for those who find pleasure in the written word and language, whether reading, writing or speaking, although a preference for this Basic Interest Scale can apply across many other themes as well) and Culinary Arts (for those who enjoy entertaining, hosting and cooking, or the process of making others happy through their dining experiences).
The Social Basic Interest Theme includes various interests that involve interacting with others, such as Counseling & Helping (for those with a distinctive desire to better the lives of others through an individual’s work, whether that mean monetarily, physically, mentally, or in the broadest sense of the term), Teaching & Education (for those who are interested in working in a teaching environment that involves a significant level of student-teacher interaction, i.e. not professors), Human Resources & Training (for those who enjoy developing and managing the employment path of others, as well as working in team settings), Social Sciences (for those who find enjoyment in the study of other peoples, cultures, and societies, along with academic settings) Religion & Spirituality (for those who are interested in religious and spiritual discussions, as well as aiding others in the development of their mental and emotional needs) and Healthcare Services (for those who enjoy providing aid for others in a medical setting, but are not necessarily interested in the breadth of science that comes with the Medical Science Basic Interest Scale). Oftentimes, people who score highly in other Social Theme scales will score highly in Counseling & Helping.
The Enterprising Theme is centered on different business practices and is composed of the Basic Interest Scales for Marketing & Advertising (for individuals who are interested in the research side of marketing and/or the creative development of advertising and marketing materials for specific products or services), Sales (for those who enjoy convincing others to enjoy their product or service, and who firmly believe that what they are selling will positively profit their customer), Management (for individuals who enjoy fulfilling a leadership role, which has them organizing and watching over others), Entrepreneurship (for people who are interested in developing new business ideas and starting companies from the ground up), Politics & Public Speaking (for those who enjoy being in the spotlight, using their knowledge to persuade or influence others, while also enjoying the act of verbally talking as a primary form of communication) and Law (for individuals who enjoy rhetoric, debate, arguing, the legal system and public policy).
The last theme, the Conventional Theme, involves the scales for Office Management (for individuals who enjoy being organized, coordinating activities, keeping lists and ledgers and supervising others in the workplace), Taxes & Accounting (for those who are interested in the analysis of financial documents and trends, budgeting and working with organized spreadsheets and books), Programming & Information Systems (for individuals who find pleasure in software development and creation, as well as the back-ends of most computer systems and management programs) and Finance & Investing (for those interested in the organizational and managerial side of money, investments and financial analysis).
This relation allows the Basic Interest Scales to bridge the gap between The General Occupational Themes and the Occupational Scales. The Basic Interest Scales can help a career professional and their clients understand the underlying interests measured by the General Occupational themes. It also can be used along with the Occupational Scales to interpret the likes and dislikes that determine the client’s Occupational Scale results. Optimally, a trained Interpreter can cross reference all three scales to see what career fields simultaneously score high in the appropriate General Occupational Themes, Occupational Scales, and Basic Interest Scales. The results that match all three criteria are excellent starting points for career exploration and have the highest chances of being an appropriate match for the individual taking the assessment. Based on the example in the previous paragraph, an individual that scored high in Realistic, Protective Services, and Law Enforcement Officer would be a strong candidate to explore a career in Law Enforcement. (Donnay, D et al. CPP, 2005)
Strong Interest Inventory® Personal Style Scales
The final sets of scales used with the Strong Interest Inventory are the five Personal Style Scales. The most recent additions to The Strong, first added in the 1994 Edition, work to complement the other traditional scales and measure preferences for more specific aspects of the work itself. One of the main purposes of the
Personal Style Scales is to help individuals explore how they prefer to go about:
These scales are applicable toward individual working styles and atmospheres, as well as the way in which you best take in and process information, both outside of the workplace and during your career. The broad impact of these scales makes them applicable for the individual in all areas of life, meaning that learning about them is that much more important. Similarly, these scales can help people understand how their way of working may differ from their coworkers, and how each person can adjust to make the most of their productivity and adjust their work settings accordingly.
These scales are built similarly to the General Occupational Themes and Basic Interest Scales, but they do have one important unique feature. Unlike the other scales, the Personal Style Scales are created as bipolar scales with a unique middle range; therefore, you can have three distinct results per scale. These scores range from a low score dictating one preference, a higher score dictating a second polarizing preference, or a mid-range score that denotes a flexible use of both preferences that changes depending on the situation at hand.
The first Personal Styles Scale is the Work Style Scale. It separates individuals that prefer to work with people from those that prefer to work with ideas, data, and things. The mid-range represents individuals that can be comfortable with people under certain circumstances, but are also comfortable working alone with data when appropriate. It’s important not to read into this scale as a measure of introversion and extraversion, the different poles of this scale merely refer to how much these individuals enjoy interaction with others in a work setting.
Individuals that prefer to work with people can be found taking jobs like but not limited to:
- Human Resources Manager
- Community Service Director
- School Counselor
- Special Education Teacher
- Speech Pathologist
- Sales Manager
These individuals will often lean toward college majors and/or occupations in the realms of education, journalism, business and social sciences. They enjoy working with people not only in the sense of helping others, but also just in atmosphere—these individuals may enjoy event planning or something of that nature that doesn’t necessarily involve the aiding of others. Generally, more women score highly in the “works with people” pole than do men.
Individuals that are more interested in working with data and ideas are more likely to take a job like but not limited to:
- Computer Scientist
These individuals are often interested in scientific, technical and mechanical ideas and processes, and usually lean toward college majors and/or careers in areas such as the physical sciences, engineering, biological sciences, computer and information sciences and mathematics.
Even though certain occupations are more inclined toward different poles of the Work Style scale, individuals should not use the scale solely as a way to choose an occupation—rather, the scale should act as guidance for the types of occupations that would mesh well with one’s working style in conjunction with other information obtained from the Strong Interest Inventory.
The second scale is called the Learning Environment Scale. This scale separates people who prefer to learn in a practical environment from those that prefer a more academic environment. Individuals that prefer a practical environment are more comfortable with trade or technical schools, as well as positions with on-the-job training that last a limited duration. Individuals that favor an academic learning environment are more likely to spend more time in a traditional research-based university environment. These same individuals are also more likely to pursue teaching positions or advanced schooling at the Masters and PhD level, as well as hold interests in various cultural, verbal and research areas. The mid-range represents a balanced approach to learning. Individuals in the mid-range will prefer to learn certain skill sets in a practical setting, while utilizing the academic approach when it best suits their needs. Although this scale measures an individual’s comfortableness in a specific setting (whether academic or practical), it does not mean that they will necessarily be successful in one or the other. Unlike the Work Style scale, the Learning Environment scale does not see one gender leaning toward a certain pole.
The standings in this pole are applicable at various stages of an individual’s career. For example, learning about one’s placement on this scale while you’re already in a comfortable occupation can help them decide whether or not to continue the education in their particular field, and how they should go about doing that (whether academically or practically).
Those who prefer practical learning are more likely to choose a job like but not limited to:
- Emergency Medical Technician
- Production Worker
- Automobile Mechanic
- Military Enlisted
The individuals who find themselves on the academic pole of this scale are often involved in college majors in the areas of accounting or finance, business, engineering or computer technology. Those leaning toward this pole are often associated with careers that involve practical training, such as hands-on workshops.
Individuals that prefer academic learning are more likely to pick a job like but not limited to:
- ESL Instructor
- Public Administrator
Those who score more highly toward the academic pole of the Learning Style scale are usually those who enjoy the study of subjects such as culture, art, linguistics, research, language, literature, history, journalism, physical sciences and social sciences. Usually, these individuals go into occupations that require them to have a substantial amount of academic preparation or experience, whether that includes an advanced degree or several different courses of study.
The third scale is called the Leadership Style Scale. This scale focuses on a person’s preference related to directing and persuading people, as well as meeting and acting as an authority figure. On one end, you have individuals that like taking leadership roles and thrive in environments where they can influence others, focusing more on the interpersonal dynamics between people in the workplace and how to use them to the highest advantage. The other end of the spectrum has individuals that prefer to “lead by example” and do not feel comfortable taking charge of others. They would much prefer doing tasks by themselves rather than have to teach someone else how to do it for them. People in the mid-range will step into leadership roles when they feel it’s necessary, but if there is a natural leader present, they will have no problem stepping back and focusing on their own tasks. This style scale is beneficial not only in directing individuals towards what type of occupations they may enjoy, but it also helps them to understand what part of the work-place hierarchy they would perform best in, allowing them to jump into potential leadership roles or choosing to stay away from these jobs.
People who prefer to “lead by example” are more likely to pick a job like but not limited to:
- Radiologic Technologist
- Production Worker
Those who score highly in this Personal Style Scale are also more interested in making their own contributions to their project or occupation rather than collaborate with others or try to act as a mentor to their peers. They usually score highly on the Realistic and Investigative Basic Interests Scales, in areas such as Mechanics & Construction, Science, Computer Hardware & Electronics and Mathematics—scales that usually include jobs that value solitary analytical thinking over collaboration and group work. This could include fields such as physical sciences, applied art & design and biological sciences as well.
Individuals that prefer to put themselves into a more directive role are more likely to enjoy a job like but not limited to:
- Operations Manager
- Corporate Trainer
- Public Administrator
- School Administrator
- Elected Public Official
These individuals will often find themselves scoring highly in certain Enterprising Basic Interest Scales, including Politics & Public Speaking, Marketing & Advertising and Management, but that does not mean that all individuals who score highly in this Personal Style Scale will work well in occupations that align with these Basic Interest Scales. They are also likely to work in areas such as journalism, social sciences, law and marketing.
The fourth scale is the Risk Taking Scale. At its most basic, the scale separates those who like to take risks from those that like to play it safe. Often, risk-taking involves various different attributes, such as a willingness to actually take the risks themselves, be spontaneous and act in the spur of the moment, and act recklessly. This scale accounts for both physical risk taking as well as financial and social risk taking. Physical risk taking may include risks like skydiving, bungee jumping, rock climbing, and auto racing. Financial risk taking examples include individuals that would prefer a commission-paying job over salary, or those that like to heavily invest in the stock market. Social risk taking is associated with one’s willingness to step out and meet new people and be generally spontaneous, and has been associated with acting independent or rebellious. It’s also interesting to note that as we get older, we tend to adapt and move more toward the “play it safe” pole of this scale regardless of what our inclination is in our youth.
Individuals score in the mid zone for one of two reasons. Some individuals might be risk takers in one area, but not another. A good example would be a stockbroker who doesn’t like any physically risky behavior, or a professional race car driver that is very conservative with his finances. The other situation is when an individual that has always been a risk taker starts to move toward the “play it safe” pole in their later years, ending up in the mid zone. There is also an interesting gender difference that accompanies this scale, with women tending to lean toward the “play it safe” pole and men toward the “takes chances” preference. Because of this, gender should be considered when assessing the information from this pole, as a man leaning toward the “takes chances” pole may mean something completely different than a woman scoring the same.
People who prefer taking chances are more likely to pick a job like but not limited to:
- Law Enforcement Officer
- Airline pilot
- Auto racer
The physical risk takers in this scale often lean toward occupations such as firefighters and military officers, while the financial risk takers make sufficient realtors and technical sales representatives. In a completely different way, some individuals manifest their risk-taking in the form of trying new things or going to new places without guarantees of success, such as traveling to exotic destinations or putting themselves out there emotionally.
Those that prefer to play it safe are more likely to enjoy a job like but not limited to:
- College Instructor
- Administrative Assistant
- Speech Pathologist
Individuals who score on the lower end of this Personal Style Scale often worry most about their personal safety, and do whatever they can to maximize that. They are often uncomfortable with trying new things or activities, and prefer to always have a carefully formulated plan. Various activities that these individuals enjoy include reading and listening to music—hobbies that involve very little risk to them.
The fifth and final Personal Style Scale is the Team Orientation Scale and was added for the first time in the 2004 iteration of the Strong Interest Inventory. This scale separates those that prefer to accomplish tasks independently from those that prefer to accomplish tasks as a team. Some individuals are confused about the difference between this scale and the Work Style Scale. This scale, unlike the Work Style Scale, has a focus on whether you prefer to “collaborate” with others on a team goal, or whether you prefer to work on tasks independently. For example, it is possible that you might prefer to work with data as opposed to people directly, but you value collaborating with others on big projects. In a case like this, you might meet as a team to brainstorm ideas, then go and work on your part independently, then meet up to brainstorm new ideas, etc. Also, unlike the Work Style scale, there are no apparent gender differences between these two poles. Individuals in the mid zone are able to adapt and adjust to the situation depending on what a specific job or situation dictates.
Individuals that prefer to accomplish tasks as a team might enjoy jobs like but not limited to:
- Sales Manager
- Operations Manager
- Rehabilitation Counselor
- School Administrator
- Nursing Home Administrator
High scores on this Personal Style Scale are often associated with high scores in the Social and Enterprising General Occupational Scales and the Enterprising Basic Interest Scales, in areas such as Human Resources & Training, Management and Marketing & Advertising. They enjoy problem solving with others and sharing success as part of a team.
Individuals that prefer to accomplish tasks independently might fit better in a job like but not limited to:
- University Professor
- Graphic Designer
- Medical Illustrator
- Medical Illustrator
These individuals find that they prefer to accomplish tasks on their own and provide independent contributions that do not involve working alongside others for the greater good of the project. They are more likely to score highly in the Realistic, Investigative, and Artistic General Occupational Themes, as well as Basic Interests Scales such as Visual Arts & Design, Nature & Agriculture and Science. Just because individuals lean toward this pole does not mean that they are ineffective in team settings, however—they just prefer to rely on themselves and their own actions rather than those of others. Therefore, these individuals often lean toward occupations that appreciate their individual accomplishments but allow them to succeed in group settings as well.
Occasionally, there are those individuals who don’t fit perfectly into one pole, scale, or type as defined by the Strong Interest Inventory. For this, the typicality index was created, allowing for a numerical score and explanation for potentially unusual combinations of responses.
The combination of responses is really what formulates the answers of the Strong Interest Inventory, and the typicality index uses a consistency of individual’s responses to enhance the reliability of the inventory, coupling alike responses and measuring an individual’s consistency in liking similar responses. In order to prove consistency in this way, an individual must answer “like” and “strongly like,” “indifferent,” or “like” to the adjoining (related) responses. This helps the interpreter to understand whether or not the individual is a typical case or an atypical case, requiring further interpretation.
A Historical and Conceptual View
The Strong Interest Inventory® is among the most widely used career coaching resources. It can trace its origins to two conceptual frameworks: The General Occupational Themes (GOT) and The Basic Interest Scales (BIS). Together, these frameworks provide valuable insights into the complex interrelationships between individuals’ professional and personal preferences, and the characteristics of specific careers. The first framework, The GOT, divides careers into six categories based on characteristics of the various work environments, daily tasks, typical responsibilities, and other features associated with different careers. The second framework, The BISs, are instead focused on the individual. The BIS explores one’s level of interests in a broad range of academic subject areas, vocational pursuits, and leisurely pastimes. These two frameworks, one centered on careers and the other on the individual, are integral to understanding the Strong Interest Inventory®. This section first provides a detailed history of the GOTs and BISs in turn. It then examines how these frameworks evolved over time to produce the Strong Interest Inventory® assessment that is so widely utilized today.
General Occupational Themes can trace their origin to the Strong Vocational Interest Blank, which was released in 1927 and intended to assess the degree of similarity between an individual’s interests and those of workers in a given occupation. In other words, one might be able to see how similar their interests were to those of people employed in a broad range of careers, from doctors to engineers, and automobile repair workers to secretaries. They might then use this information to decide which careers may be a good fit for them, based on their own interests. However, at that time, the assessment inventory was disparate, and there was no cohesive strategy for determining exactly which interests could be associated with particular professions. It was not made explicit what interests doctors had, or what interests’ secretaries had, let alone how they could be similar or different from one another. Instead, individuals were left to their own devices, and were expected, with the help of a career coach, to determine the categorizations of these interests themselves. While this structure was certainly economical, and unintimidating to use, it also lacked cohesion and a broad structure that would enable large numbers of users to apply it in their daily lives effectively and systematically. The entire system could be undermined by individuals or career coaches simply making different judgments and assumptions about the interests and preferences of various professionals.
A generation later, in 1959, renowned psychologist and counselor J. L. Holland proposed six basic categories of occupational interests, building on a long tradition of work within the fields of vocational counseling and occupational theory. These occupational interest categories are: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Collectively, these are sometimes referred to as the RIASEC hexagon.Individuals with a proclivity for different careers may have different combinations of occupational interests. For instance, those who have interests in the Enterprising Theme Code Category may be fulfilled and successful in careers such as being a judge or a telemarketer, while those who have interests in the Artistic theme code category might prefer to become chefs, writers, or actors. Conversely, someone with an interest in both the Investigative and Enterprising Theme Code Categories might become a private investigator, research scientist, or professor.
In 1973, Holland provided four additional tenets which expanded upon his original framework. First, he posited that most individuals feel an affinity for one or more of these Theme Code Categories. Rarely do individuals have an utter lack of interests or motivations. Second, Holland posed that the social and operational norms of various work environments are shaped by the personalities of the individuals who tend to be attracted to those careers. In other words, people shape the environments in which they work. Businesspeople, who tend to be highly social and driven by financial success, tend to value organization, efficiency, and productivity, and shape their work environments to reward these characteristics. On the other hand, painters or artists, who value flexibility of expression, tend to reject overly structured corporate settings and instead construct work environments that foster creativity. Holland’s (1973) third observation is that people tend to seek out work environments that allow and encourage them to expand their abilities and express their values in ways that they find stimulating and satisfying. At the same time, individuals tend to avoid responsibilities which they find unpleasant. For example, elementary school teachers not only gain a deep-seated satisfaction from molding the minds of the next generation, but also are not deterred by the many challenges that come with working with small children. Holland’s final note is how individuals function and interact in their work environment which is shaped by the relationship between their personality and their work environment. Just as actors respond to their setting and others on stage, so do professionals respond to their environment and their co-workers.
Career coaches and lifestyle professionals utilize the General Occupational Theme scores to support clients in understanding which activities are valued by people with particular characteristics, what kinds of jobs or occupations fit them, what environments are comfortable for them, and what kinds of co-workers would appeal to them. This level of detailed guidance is especially beneficial to young people, who are still discovering their path in life, as well as to those who are still clarifying their general vocational direction. The GOT is particularly widely used because it can help them transform a vague list of interests and preferences into a career that they will find both personally fulfilling and financially sustainable.
The GOT has been shown to be an extraordinarily reliable tool for helping individuals discover careers regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, or even income level. Moreover, and perhaps more surprisingly, the GOT has demonstrated that individuals’ preferences change extraordinarily little throughout their lifetime. If someone was a happy and successful travel agent at the age of 25, it is likely that they will continue to be drawn to social or enterprising careers throughout their lives.
Basic Interest Scales are the second major contributor to the Strong Interest Inventory® of today. The Basic Interest Scales (BIS) were introduced in the late 1960s with the goal of improving professionals’ understanding of the General Occupational Themes. Once an individual’s proclivity for a given Occupational Theme or combination of themes was determined, the Basic Interest Scales could be applied to provide a more granular view of the combination of interests that were present. In this way, the Basic Interest Scales provide career coaches the tools needed to focus on specific aspects of the General Occupational Themes.
Unlike the GOT items, which are broad and general as their name suggests, each of the BIS use statistically correlated items to provide a detailed understanding of a specific content area. For example, the singular Artistic Theme Code Category is associated with a number of Basic Interests, including interests in visual arts and design, performing arts, culinary arts, and mass communication. All of these interests are Artistic, but they do not necessarily overlap with one another, and, more importantly, the careers with which they are associated can be vastly different from one another. Being a chef is very different from being a singer, which is different from being a news anchor or journalist. As such, the detailed view of the BISs augments the analytical power of the GOTs.While the BIS’s sheds light on many factors and considerations underlying GOTs, clinicians can apply them in much the same way when providing services to clients. The end purpose of BISs, as with GOTs, is to identify activities, jobs, environments, and types of people for which they have a proclivity. Their primary difference is that BISs provides a more granular, individually-oriented perspective than does GOTs.
Since the initial release of Basic Interest Scales in the late 1960s, substantial updates in content have been made to account for changes in the modern workplace. For example, technological innovations have made commonplace career options and workplace environment that would have been impossible to conceive a few decades ago. For instance, the idea that we would have armies of computer programmers, social media marketing specialists, and web developers would have seemed alien when the BIS’s were first released. Similarly, the notion that working remotely full time via a computer the size of a notebook would have been unimaginable. Innovations such as these motivated the release of additional, more recent, versions of the Basic Interest Scales as well as of the Strong Interest Inventory® itself. On the other hand, the General Occupational Themes have remained relatively static since their release, though they have been applied in novel ways.
Evolution and Development of The Strong Interest Inventory
The Strong Interest Inventory® as well as its components, the General Occupational Themes and the Basic Interest Scales, have been updated periodically for several reasons. One of the most obvious reasons is to account for changes in the modern workplace due to the passage of time and evolution of technology. These temporal changes involved adding new items, modifying existing items, and removing items that are no longer relevant. For instance, technological innovations have made the modern workplace all but unrecognizable to most professionals of the 1960s. There are even full careers and subject areas that could scarcely have been imagined a few generations ago. On the other hand, some interests are no longer relevant. For instance, few 21st century professions are associated with an interest in “Repairing a Clock.”
An additional reason the Strong Interest Inventory® is updated is to improve the psychometric properties of the inventory. Psychometrics is the branch of psychology that uses statistical methods and big data analysis to delve into human thought and behavior. One example of such a change is the streamlining of response options. While the original survey included three possible responses, the Likert-style “Like,” “Indifferent,” and “Dislike,” the 2004 update included a more granular 5-item response, enabling a more detailed analysis. The final change, though arguably the least significant, is the slight updating of some items in the inventory for reasons such as correcting typographical errors or implementing more inclusive terms. One such example is the textual change from “Air Hostess,” which appeared in the 1997 Strong Interest Inventory® to “Flight Attendant” in 2004.
The impact of these and other changes has been studied in-depth over many years. Such studies typically fall into one of three categories: analyses of unchanged items, analyses of items with minor changes in wording, and the reliability of several measures comprising common items. These analyses generally found that providing five response options rather than three did not significantly alter the underlying distribution of interests, and that changes in wording did not significantly affect subjects’ responses, either positively or negatively. However, longitudinal analyses do reveal general shifts and trends towards some interests and away from others. Throughout this process, items and responses that elicited an overwhelmingly positive or overwhelmingly negative response were systematically removed. Because such items cannot effectively distinguish among different groups of respondents, they are rendered useless and therefore eliminated.
In addition to the ongoing changes made to the clinical version of the Strong Interest Inventory®, another update released in 2004 was a version of the Strong Interest Inventory® specifically designed for research. This version is used by colleges, universities, and private research organizations to gain additional insights into career counseling, to continue to assess the validity and reliability of the inventory itself, and to bring to light any additional interests or career subject areas that ought to be added to new updates of the Inventory.
Potential Challenges with the Strong Interest Inventory® Test
Several factors can act as challenges for those interpreting the Strong Interest Inventory, but trained interpreters are able to recognize these patterns and pull the useful information from the profile. For example: narrow, well-defined interests, little knowledge of the working world, cultural differences, mood, unwillingness to make a commitment, indecisiveness, no desire to actually work, an apathetic “indifferent” or “dislike” style, low self-esteem, undeveloped vocational identity, family pressure, and peer pressure can all shift the answers of an individual, skewing their responses.
Another challenge that can arise is that of the “elevated” profile, which means that an individual scored unusually highly in a large number of General Occupational Themes, Basic Interest Scales and Occupational Scales. This could be due to many reasons, including fear of appearing negative, trying to please everyone, a desire to keep all their options open, a genuine diversity of interests, and multi-potential interests and abilities. Interpreters can study specific strategies to help take away these challenges.[Strong Interest Inventory-based information was referenced from the following publication: Strong Interest Inventory Manual (Donnay, D et al. CPP, 2005)
The Validity of The Strong Interest Inventory Test
The Strong Interest Inventory test has had countless studies over its 80 plus-year existence to confirm its concurrent and construct validity. The Strong Interest Inventory assessment has also been updated throughout the years to adapt to the ever-changing work environment. The 2004 edition is the most thorough and up to date version accounting for the major economic and technical changes that occurred starting in the mid to late 1990s. Recent improvements in sample data gathering, thanks to the emergence of the internet, have also greatly increased data sampling sizes for more accurate representation of the national sample of individuals. (Donnay, D et al. CPP, 2005)
Why The Strong Interest Inventory Test?
The Strong Interest Inventory test has one of the oldest and most trusted pedigrees among current interest inventories. The first iteration of the Strong Interest Inventory assessment was introduced in 1927. It has expanded and evolved over the last 80+ years with the last two major updates occurring in 1994 and more recently 2004. It has been formulated to work effectively across both genders, as well as the full range of ethnicities. The 2004 edition also had its occupational scales adjusted to account for the ever-evolving job market and new technology-driven fields. These factors have helped the Strong earn the reputation as a leader of the premier assessments for those individuals looking to match their interest to promising career and educational options. (Donnay, D et al. CPP, 2005)
How Is The Strong Interest Inventory Test Used?
The main use of the Strong Interest Inventory test is to match people with their best fit career. The Strong Interest Inventory assessment is used in a variety of settings and can help a person pick an educational direction, find a satisfying start to their career, change careers for those in transition, or encourage career development for those stagnant in their current position. Not only is it used in school settings, but it has also been widely used by social service agencies, outplacement consulting firms, corporations, and other large entities such as the military. (Donnay, D et al. CPP, 2005)
Free Versus Paid Assessments
There are many free personality and interest inventory tests and assessments located around the Internet, though one must know that though these tests attempt to mimic The MBTI assessment or Strong Interest Inventory test, at no or sometimes a low cost to you, they are neither valid nor proven to assess you or what you are searching for. The MBTI test has been rewritten for validity and cross culturally tested for over 40 years and cannot be replaced by replicas that attempt to mimic its legitimacy. Being that The MBTI® and Strong Interest Inventory® are quite affordable, there really is no reason to not be administered the genuine assessments.
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Strong Interest Inventory Manual (Donnay, D et al. CPP, 2005)
Strong Interest Inventory Manual Supplement (Thompson, Richard, 2005, CPP Inc.)