You have /5 articles left.
Sign up for a free account or log in.

Rear view of businessman standing on red puzzle pieces and drawing business graffiti on brick wall, with the words Teamwork and Idea visible.

Assessment results can help career counselors ask students the right questions to guide them in goal setting.

ismagilov/iStock/Getty Images

As a career coach, I have worked with many students and adults who are trying to determine the career path that’s right for them. I often use both a personality type assessment and a work personality assessment to help them to clarify both the work they want to do and how to do it in a way that fits who they are.

Research by James Rounds and Rong Su of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has shown that following a career path that incorporates both personality and interests results in success, as measured by a number of metrics. I’ve found that including both personality type and interests can create aha moments that lead to success both in school and in the world of work. Each type of assessment brings a different and valuable perspective to career exploration.

Understanding Personality Preferences

This is a great foundation for career exploration. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, or MBTI assessment, provides individuals with insights into how they’re energized (inner world or outer world), how they prefer to take in information (through their senses or their imagination), how they prefer to make decisions (objectively analyzing the situation or subjectively considering the values and people involved), and how they prefer to engage with the outer world (looking around and seeing decisions to be made or opportunities to explore).

Exploring which preferences are the best fit can help us engage with students as they identify key aspects of their personality and how to use this information to find success.

Work personality is slightly more nuanced, as it focuses specifically on career and leisure interests. The Strong Interest Inventory assessment guides individuals in discovering their unique personality, based in part on John Holland’s career theory, which includes realistic (the doers), investigative (the thinkers), artistic (the creators), social (the helpers), enterprising (the persuaders) and conventional (the organizers). Working with students to help them identify which of these six interest areas they are most interested in can provide them with valuable insights into how to leverage their interests to create both academic and career success.

Engaging With Students in Career Exploration

Assessment use in career exploration does not replace the value of dialogue with an academic adviser, but it can greatly enhance an adviser’s ability to engage students as they consider both academic and career choices. As Judy Grutter, a well-known career development expert, always said, “Assessments don’t provide answers, they provide us with tools to ask more meaningful questions.” The data from assessments provide unique perspectives, and they are drawn from information derived from a student’s own responses, making them meaningful for both the student and the adviser.

Many career services staff will be familiar with these assessments, as they are widely used and respected. Both assessments are often utilized in the courses required to obtain a degree in career coaching, so very often academic advisers have themselves taken one or both assessments in their preparation for their role. (For those who haven’t, taking these assessments is a valuable step in considering if either or both assessments fit into the career development support that you offer.)

Considering Assessment Use Models

Higher ed widely utilizes both personality assessments and career interest assessments to better support students on their academic and career journeys. A few examples:

  • At Colorado College, the career center uses both the MBTI assessment and Strong Interest Inventory assessment to support students in finding their academic and career path. While students of all levels benefit from the assessment, including first-years, sophomore year is a popular time because students are faced with declaring a major.
  • Finlandia University in Michigan leverages the Strong Interest Inventory assessment with disadvantaged students who need extra support, in particular through the TRIO Student Support Services program. Assessments have helped retain students who might otherwise transfer or drop out, especially in cases where they may be in the wrong major.
  • Students at Mount Mary College in Wisconsin use the MBTI assessment. Faculty members can request that a representative from the career development office present on it or include the assessment as part of an introductory class session. Students seeking direction, or validation on a chosen major, may also take the assessment after reaching out to academic advisers or the career office.

Both assessments can be used one on one or with groups, with each option providing different benefits and challenges. One-on-one use allows for in-depth conversations with individuals but requires more time over all if you have a large number of students. Group sessions provide students with the opportunity to dialogue with other students, which can often deepen understanding of their own personality and that of others. Group use also allows career services staff to reach more students in less time, and can be combined with one-on-one sessions to get the best of both worlds. One on one, group or a combination of the two—these are all effective ways to help students get maximum benefit from assessment data.

Assessment results can be used to jump-start and deepen conversations, conversations that enable students to identify and pursue career paths that match who they are and what they want to do. While assessments will never replace the powerful interactions students have with career service professionals, they do provide these professionals with valuable tools to enhance these interactions and help their students find success in school, in work and in life.

Marta Koonz is a professional services principal consultant for the Myers-Briggs Company and a faculty member for the company’s assessment certification programs. Also certified by the International Coaching Federation as a professional coach, she has worked in the education sector as well as with state and local governments and for corporate and not-for-profit clients across a wide range of industries.

Next Story

Written By

More from Views