How Accurate are Career Aptitude Tests?

Clinically Reviewed by Steven Melendy, PsyD. on October 19, 2022

Are career aptitude tests accurate? This is the first question that people ask themselves when they are considering taking one. The answer is not always clear-cut, but in general, these tests can be helpful in giving you an idea of what kinds of careers might be a good fit for you. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the accuracy of career aptitude tests and how they can help you find the right career or make adjustments to your current career to ensure it’s a better fit for your strengths, motivations and work style. 

What are career aptitude tests?

While there are many different career aptitude tests, they all basically assess the same thing: how well your personal work style fits a specific career path or workplace. These tests usually ask you questions about your traits, aptitudes and responses in workplace scenarios, such as whether you enjoy networking or whether you like reviewing documents for accuracy. They then compare your answers to the characteristics of different careers. 

Based on how well your answers match up, the test will give you a list of career options that might be a good fit for you.

Why would you take a career aptitude test?

Career aptitude tests help you get to know yourself better. If you’re feeling lost about what kind of career path you should take, a career aptitude test can give you a great starting point for narrowing down your options. 

On the other hand, if a prospective employer or job agency asks you to take one, it can help them see if you’ll do well in a particular field based on your preferences, personality and trait strengths.

Common career aptitude tests 

The top career aptitude tests you may run into are the Holland Code Career Test and the DISC, but there are many variations out there. 

Holland Code

Created by academic psychologist Dr. John L. Holland, the Holland Code states that careers exist in six categories, and these same groups can describe people’s interests and personalities. These groups are: 

  • Realistic: Realistic people prefer to  work with things, and they like working outdoors or with their hands.
  • Investigative: Investigative people like working with ideas, and they often enjoy research.
  • Artistic: Artistic people prefer creative self-expression, and they might be good at visual arts or music.
  • Social: Social people like helping others, and they might excel in fields such as teaching

or nursing.

  • Enterprising: Enterprising people like leading and persuading others, and they might be good at sales or management.
  • Conventional: Conventional people like following established procedures, and they might be good at accounting or administrative work.

Some test providers, including Truity, use different names for the six categories, but they mean the same thing.

When I took Truity’s version of the Holland Code test, I scored 100 on the Creating (Artistic) group, which wasn’t a surprise to me. The Artistic trait matches me, as that’s where my main interests lie. I also scored a 40 on Helping (Social), which fits my 16-type personality, INFJ. 

DISC as a career aptitude test

The DISC assessment reveals your personality based on the four DISC personality types: Drive, Influence, Support and Clarity. It’s a simple approach to categorizing a person's personality and using it to predict workplace behavior and reactions to specific circumstances. Because it’s easy to understand, it’s a top assessment used in workplaces and also as a career aptitude test to see if your personality will fit into a career or workplace.

Here’s an extract of my DISC results. You can see that I scored highest in the Support category, followed by Clarity and Influence, while Drive took a backseat. My second highest type of Clarity means that, while I aim to support most of the time, my sidekick type is working on getting the job done well and with precision.

image

My results made sense. I’m not an assertive, take-charge person, and, for the most part, I don’t employ persuasion tactics or get involved in workplace debates. Instead, I aim to get the job done and be of service along the way.

Are career aptitude tests accurate?

The simple answer is yes – when utilized correctly. Both DISC and the Holland Code have been around for a long time. Both tests have been tested and validated many times. This means that if your test comes from a reputable provider, you can rest easy knowing that the science behind the assessment is solid.

However, it’s important to remember that aptitude tests are only one tool you can use to help you make decisions about your career. They should not be used as the sole basis for making a decision. Humans are complex creatures, and these assessments don’t reveal everything about you. 

For instance, my top recommended careers on the Holland Code test included some that I disagreed with because my secondary career group was “Helping” (Social). I would never teach Middle School or become a Registered Nurse - that doesn’t appeal to me at all. But the test also gave me excellent information about my job preferences and some good suggestions I definitely agreed with. Spoiler alert, I’m already a freelance writer who “helps” people through the content I create, and creative writing is one of my hobbies!

An example of recommended jobs from this sort of test appears in a screenshot of my results below.

image 

In other words, career aptitude tests are “accurate” to the extent they give you reliable career ideas based on your broad personality group. But whether they feel accurate to you personally depends on who you are as a person. Just because you like helping others doesn’t mean you like the blood and needles that come with healthcare careers, or the small humans that come with a career in childcare or youth counseling. You can use the career suggestions as a jumping off point, but you also have to look inside yourself. What do you like? What do you dislike? Be honest. Don’t change your answers based on what you think you should say or what you think will make you look good to others.

Once you have your results, if you feel they’re wildly incorrect, you might want to try retesting yourself another day. Sometimes your mood or state of mind can impact your test results, especially if you’re experiencing poor self-esteem or an illness. When I’m sick, for instance, I’m never myself!

The takeaway

Are career aptitude tests accurate? Yes, a high-quality test should be, but they do not represent the full spectrum of your personality! Take your results and use them to make you a better, more focused job seeker, worker and communicator, but don’t hinder yourself from growth by assuming you’re one-dimensional. You’re not! And that’s what makes you special.

Cianna Garrison

Cianna Garrison holds a B.A. in English from Arizona State University and works as a freelance writer. She fell in love with psychology and personality type theory back in 2011. Since then, she has enjoyed continually learning about the 16 personality types. As an INFJ, she lives for the creative arts, and even when she isn’t working, she’s probably still writing.

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About the Clinical Reviewer

Steven Melendy, PsyD., is a Clinical Psychologist who received his doctorate from The Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He specializes in using evidence-based approaches in his work with individuals and groups. Steve has worked with diverse populations and in variety of a settings, from community clinics to SF General Hospital. He believes strongly in the importance of self-care, good friendships, and humor whenever possible.

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