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The Strong Interest Inventory

What is It and How is It Used in Self Assessment?

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A Brief History of E.K. Strong's Interest Inventories

Psychologists, many years ago, figured out that people employed in the same occupation had common interests. In order to use this premise to help people choose suitable careers, they needed to find a way to assess their interests. With this information in hand, they could match them with careers in which people who have similar interests worked. EK Strong published the very first instrument that measured interests in 1927. It was called the Strong Vocational Interest Blank.

There have been many revisions and name changes to Strong's inventory over the years. When David S. Campbell, E.K. Strong's successor, revised the inventory in 1974, it was renamed the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory. In 1997 the Strong Interest Inventory was published and that name remained with the most recent version that was published by CPP, Inc. in 2005.

Taking The Strong Interest Inventory

The Strong Interest Inventory is a self assessment instrument that career development professionals, for example career counselors, use to help high school and college students, as well as adults, discover their interests. They can then use this information to assist with career and educational decision-making.

The Strong Interest Inventory contains 291 items that ask users about their preferences in regard to occupations, subject areas, activities, leisure activities, people and characteristics. It takes between 35 and 40 minutes to complete. This instrument should be used with other self assessment tools including value and personality inventories and skill assessments, as well as informal means of discovering suitable occupations.

Getting Your Results

Your results will come in the form of a report. The person who administers the test should go over it with you in order to make sure you understand it. He or she should inform you that even though the report contains a list of occupations that might be suitable for you based on your answers, that doesn't necessarily mean they are. You should always thoroughly explore any occupation you are considering.

Your report will be presented in six sections as follows:

  • General Occupational Themes (GOT): General Occupational Themes are six broad areas that represent the personality types that were defined by John Holland, a psychologist. Holland believed that all people fall into one or more of six types based on their interests and approaches to life situations: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. He believed that work environments could also be categorized into these six types. Your scores are compared to the average scores for your gender to determine your interest levels for each of the six types, referred to as themes on the report. You are then presented with your Holland Code, which indicates your highest themes. The report will also include information about the interests, work activities, potential skills, and values associated with each theme.
  • Basic Interest Scales (BIS): This section of the report tells you what your top interests are, based on the work and leisure activities, projects and course work that you found most motivating and rewarding. These interests are categorized under the General Occupational Themes as described in the previous section.
  • Occupational Scales (OS): To get the results for this section, your interests are compared to the interests of people of the same gender working in 122 occupations. A list of occupations is then generated. It contains those occupations in which people whose interests most closely match yours work.
  • Personal Styles Scales (PSS): This section tells you what your preferences are regarding work style, learning environment, leadership style, risk taking and team orientation. It is helpful to have this information as you begin to research occupations that you might want to pursue.
  • Profile Summary: This section simply provides you with a graphic representation of your results. You can consult this as you move forward through the career planning process.

Sources:
Donnay, David A. C. "E. K. Strong's Legacy and Beyond: 70 Years of the Strong Interest Inventory." Career Development Quarterly. September 1997.
Kelly, Kevin R. "Review of the Strong Interest Inventory [Newly Revised]". Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests in Print. 2010.
"Strong Interest Inventory Sample Report." CPP.org.
Zunker, Vernon G. and Norris, Debra S. Using Assessment Results for Career Development. Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. 1997.

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