Career assessment and interest inventory tests can help you discover your strengths and determine what types of occupations you’ll most enjoy. These tests create an overall picture of the most suitable career path for a specific individual. However, because these assessments have inherent drawbacks, job seekers can get the most benefit by using them as just one of many tools that can point them in the right career direction.
The results of a test you took your senior year of high school might differ dramatically from the one you take a decade into your career. Just because an assessment test indicated you would excel in a creative profession such as writing, that doesn’t mean you’ll still be well-suited for this occupation years later. You might instead find yourself drawn to a service-oriented career such as social work. Careers website Career Assessment Goddess advises that the results of a test taken two or more years ago are probably too outdated to be useful.
Overdependence on Results
While your test results can suggest the most promising career paths, no single test can predict with 100 percent certainty if you’ll thrive and be happy in a specific occupation. These tests are dependent on the answers you provide. If you’re not honest, can’t take an objective look at yourself or simply don’t know yourself well, your replies could create an inaccurate profile. In addition, a single test, no matter how thorough, can’t substitute for critical thinking and inside knowledge of the professions you’re considering. An assessment can help you get started, but you still need to carefully consider the pros and cons of any occupation that interests you.
When employers require assessment and inventory tests, they must prove that the questions they’re asking are relevant to the job requirements and qualifications. Certain questions, for example, could violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In addition, several states and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission have restricted the types of tests employers can use. Job seekers might worry about what happens to this information and who will see it, fearing it could damage their professional reputations. Executive coach Jeremy Robinson, in a Tech Republic article, advises asking who owns and has access to this information.
Even if a test has been proven valid and reliable, not all people will benefit from it. Something as simple as being tired or nervous can hinder concentration or self-analysis and prevent you from obtaining accurate results. Cultural differences can also potentially skew the results. People from another country might not relate to a specific test, and might have taken very different kinds of assessments in their own countries. In addition, tests often indicate potential but can’t predict if someone can successfully apply skills or knowledge in a real-world setting.