Career Assessment Tests: 3 Types

Career assessment tests, or vocational tests, measure a person's ability to perform a specific task, demonstrate a particular attitude or show motivation for a specific type of employment. The tests can be administered by an employer, a counselor or yourself. Career assessment tests are most useful for people who are having difficulty making a career decision. But sometimes passing a career test, such as an aptitude test, may be the minimum requirement for entering your desired occupation.

Aptitude Tests

An aptitude test measures your ability to complete a specific task or to demonstrate a specific ability and to perform these actions consistently. Aptitude tests measure clerical, numerical, mechanical, physical, sensory, spatial and verbal ability. (Each test will usually measure a different ability.)

Sometimes employers administer these tests during interviews because they are looking for specific aptitudes that will need to be demonstrated on the job. For example, the same employer may test prospective administrative assistants with a clerical typing test, while giving a physical aptitude test to the prospective security officers.

It is possible to study for an aptitude test to improve your score. You can find study resources online or in books written specifically for your test. In a highly competitive job field with many able recruits, such as the police force or firefighting team, investing the time and effort to train and prepare both your mind and body for the aptitude test is a good way to improve your chances of being screened into the program. Even taking the time to improve your typing speed and spelling can make the difference between a job offer and a brush-off.

Interest Tests

Interest tests are readily available as self-administered career assessment tests. You can also take them under the guidance of a career counselor. Very few employers will administer an interest test. An interest test is useful if you have no idea of what career or educational path to pursue. The interest test will ask about tasks, skills or activities that attract you, and you can respond that you are interested in a task, even if you have never tried the activity before. For example, an interest test could ask you to choose between teaching children and entering data into a spreadsheet, and you will need to choose which activity is more attractive, even if you have never taught children or never seen a spreadsheet. An interest inventory measures your attraction to a task or activity because the attraction suggests you will be motivated to learn more.

Examples of interest inventories include the Jackson Vocational Interest Survey and the Strong Interest Inventory, which are available online or through a career counselor.

Personality Tests

Personality tests are not always used as career assessment tests. A personality test is meant to measure your beliefs and feelings, and it is usually administered by a career counselor or an employer, though there are some self-assessment varieties available. Examples of a personality test include the Myers-Briggs, the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, the Big Five Personality Test and the Holland Career Test. These tests will ask you to rate how you think or react to situations. Your responses to the questions are usually rated on a scale, and the results will assign you a personality code which is based on the responses of other test takers.

In the realm of career assessment tests, counselors will apply the results of the personality test to a matrix that suggests where other test takers with a similar code have pursued employment. For example, test takers that complete the Holland Test and who are described as "Realistic" are encouraged to look for occupations that allow them to work with their hands or perform physical labor, occupations such as gardener, mechanic or police officer.

Employers may use a personality test to assign employees to a specific team to achieve diversity on the team or to make sure that you would be a good fit with the other workers in the department.

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