Strong Interest Inventory Assessment: Career Test Guide

Updated July 24, 2023

Faces arranged on puzzle pieces.

Whether you're beginning your career or seeking a career change, you might be unsure of what profession to pursue. Tests such as the Strong Interest Inventory assessment use various questions to gauge your potential preferences in the workplace. This career-planning tool can help you pick a fulfilling profession and pursue the appropriate qualifications so you can start as soon as possible.

In this article, we look at the Strong Interest Inventory, how you can use it professionally and its six general occupational themes.

What is the Strong Interest Inventory assessment?

The Strong Interest Inventory (SII) assessment is a career-planning tool that measures your interests over several categories such as school subjects, work activities and leisure activities. It uses your answers to match your interests to various careers and work environments you're most likely to enjoy and where you can find success. Since the early 20th century, this assessment has been a highly respected and widely used career planning test worldwide.

While psychologist E.K. Strong Jr. originally developed this test to help people find jobs after their military service, the SII assessment applies the theory of occupational themes to broader career planning. The SII compares the interests you identify with on the test to the interests of others who have indicated being happy in their careers, with the idea being that you'd also then be happy in those same careers. After the test, you receive a report with a compilation of 10 career options based on different scales, including general occupational themes, occupational scales, personal style scales and basic interest scales.

Related: A Guide to Career Assessments (With Definition and Types)

How to use the Strong Interest Inventory assessment

These are ways you can use the Strong Interest Inventory assessment:

1. Choose a college major

You can use this assessment to help you choose a college major. Identify your personal interests and how they relate to occupations, then determine which courses can help you pursue those occupations.

Read more: What Major Should I Choose at College?

2. Explore a new career

If you take the assessment and find it doesn't match your current occupation, consider pursuing another. This can help first-time and long-time workforce members identify which roles may be best for them. You can also speak with experts in a field that interests you to learn how to transition into a new role and identify courses or certifications that can enhance your skill set.

3. Develop or reintegrate

The assessment can help you develop your career by helping you understand your work style and personal strengths. If you've been absent from the workforce and plan to return, it can help you determine which positions may best suit your abilities and personality.

Strong Interest Inventory assessment occupational themes

The Strong Interest Inventory assessment sorts results into six general occupational themes that categorize your interests and preferred work environment. Your results consist of the first letter of the theme your interests fall into and can include up to three theme-identifying codes.

For example, an individual who scores highly in Artistic, Social and Enterprising is ASE. Some of the themes relate more closely than others, meaning it's possible to score highly in two themes that align with each other. The six general occupational themes use the acronym RIASEC and are as follows:

1. Realistic

Individuals who have Realistic-favoring results tend to be active, adventurous, practical, physical and tool-oriented. Some people refer to this group as "the doers." People in this category typically enjoy adventurous activities and hobbies such as skydiving, mountain climbing, camping, hunting and repairing machines.

Individuals who score highly in this theme usually enjoy trying to find a clear solution to a specific problem. These individuals are typically great problem-solvers, physically strong, possess intellect and prefer to work logically.

The Realistic group tends to prefer positions that require a specific skill set such as working with computers or working outdoors and handling heavy equipment and machinery. They may also enjoy technical work environments such as product manufacturing and construction. Common career paths for the Realistic theme include:

  • Auto mechanic

  • Electrician

  • Engineering technician

  • Law enforcement officer

Related: 10 Ways To Use a Personality Inventory for Career Searches

2. Investigative

Individuals who have Investigative-favoring results tend to be analytical, intellectual, scientific, theoretical, explorative and imaginative. People in this category usually enjoy activities and hobbies that are scientific or involve critical thinking such as playing chess, solving puzzles, reading, astronomy, sailing and scuba diving. Investigative individuals, or "thinkers," usually enjoy asking questions and researching the answers.

The Investigative group tends to prefer positions that require skills in math, science, data analysis or writing and can find happiness in work environments that are academic or research-based, such as universities and labs. Common career paths for the Investigative theme include:

  • University professor

  • Psychologist

  • Physician

  • Veterinarian

  • Chiropractor

  • Geologist

  • Computer scientist

Related: Judging vs. Perceiving: Myers-Briggs Preferences at Work

3. Artistic

Individuals who have Artistic-favoring results tend to be creative, original, independent, chaotic, expressive and imaginative. These "creators" usually enjoy activities and hobbies that allow them to express themselves creatively, such as art, music, drama, photography and writing.

They're usually nonconformists in tune with their feelings and the beauty in the world around them. The Artistic group tends to prefer positions that emphasize beauty, self-expression and originality. Common career paths for the Artistic theme include:

  • Chef

  • Attorney

  • Architect

  • Photographer

  • Writer

  • Artist

  • Graphic designer

  • Entertainer

  • Animator

  • Set Designer

  • Fashion Designer

Related: How To Use Color Psychology Tests To Explore Career Options

4. Social

Individuals who have Social-favoring results tend to be cooperative, supportive, caring, collaborative, healing and nurturing. These "helpers" tend to enjoy activities and hobbies that involve caregiving or helping others, such as volunteer and community service work or organizing social events.

Individuals who score highly in this theme are typically outgoing, great communicators, friendly, generous and rule followers. The Social group tends to prefer positions that involve providing instruction or caring for others. Common career paths for the Social theme include:

  • Registered nurse

  • Social worker

  • Teacher

  • Counselor

  • Physical therapist

  • Speech pathologist

Related: 8 Free Career Aptitude Tests for Adults

5. Enterprising

Individuals who have Enterprising-favoring results tend to be competitive, influential, ambitious and natural leaders. As a "persuader," you're likely to enjoy activities that involve leading or persuading others. Examples include participating in clubs or political activities and competing in sports. Individuals who score highly in this theme are typically energetic, confident, organized and optimistic.

People who fall into the Enterprising group usually prefer positions that involve managing or persuading others and tend to be happy in work environments like large corporations, financial institutions and government agencies. Common career paths for the Enterprising theme include:

  • Sales manager

  • Marketing manager

  • Investment specialist

  • Travel consultant

  • Judge

  • Franchise owner

Related: Myers-Briggs Personality Types and Their Job Compatibilities

6. Conventional

Individuals who have Conventional-favoring results tend to be detail-oriented, organized, clerical, practical, orderly and efficient. These "organizers" typically enjoy activities and hobbies that involve organization, detail and accuracy, such as home improvement projects, collecting items, building things that have clear instructions and games with clear rules. Individuals who score highly in this theme are often methodical and cautious with their belongings and money.

Individuals in the Conventional group tend to prefer positions involving detailed information and a high level of accuracy. The group finds fulfillment in large organizations or by working in mathematics or data management. Common careers for the Conventional theme include:

  • Banker

  • Accountant

  • Bookkeeper

  • Paralegal

  • Office manager

  • Administrative assistant

  • Computer systems analyst

Frequently asked questions

How can you take the Strong Interest Inventory?

You can take the assessment online through a portal. You can also complete the assessment on paper and mail it to receive your results.

What report do you get with your results?

When you receive your results, they specify your scores within the six categories: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. The report also provides information about your work style, interests and potential occupational opportunities based on your scores.

How reliable are the assessment's results?

The results of the test are fairly reliable. There's always a chance for error with assessments, but the Strong Interest Inventory assessment may provide consistent results.


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