What does the Strong Interest Inventory Measure?


The average American will spend over 90,000 hours of their life working—that comes to over 10.27 years of one’s life at work. Time is too precious to waste in a mindless grind. We all deserve to find satisfying, fulfilling careers. At the same time, millions of people tolerate sub-optimal careers or working conditions because of inertia and fear of the unknown—at the end of the day, it is easier to make do with the status quo than to take a risk and pursue one’s dreams. The prospect of switching careers can be even more intimidating because of the vast amount of information and career advice available online. In fact, there are times when nearly every job seeker has even felt like a castaway, adrift in an ocean of possibilities without any clear direction.

This is where the Strong Interest Inventory® comes in. The Strong Interest Inventory® (SII) is like a compass. This powerful, survey-style career test is designed to navigate the job search process. It can help job seekers identify fields, job types, or even specific careers that leverage their strengths, interests, and preferences. Let’s take a closer look at what the SII is, how it works and what it measures.

What is the Strong Interest Inventory® Test?

The Strong Interest Inventory Test (SII) is a popular Career Test that uses a detailed questionnaire to help people narrow their job search and find the right careers for them. The SII is based on the idea that people are drawn to different careers based on their personal preferences and that these differences are systematic. For example, people who decide to become landscape architects have predictably different preferences from people who decide to become ballet dancers. Therefore, individuals choosing a career path could start by carefully analyzing their own interest patterns and tendencies, comparing their responses with those of other professionals, and then taking a closer look at the careers of people whose answers resemble their own.

What is the Strong Interest Inventory Test based on?

The Strong Interest Inventory Test is based on two different psychological frameworks: General Occupational Themes (GOT’s) and Basic Interest Scales (BIS’s). When used together, these two scales help job seekers connect their own occupational and personal preferences with the features of different careers. The first scale, GOT’s, identifies six different career categories: Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional. Careers in each category share certain features, such as typical tasks and responsibilities, work environment, and more. For example, Artistic careers tend to involve self-expression or creativity while Conventional careers involve working with data or logical reasoning. The second scale, BIS’s, takes a closer look at job seekers themselves by exploring their professional preferences and personal tendencies. The GOT and BIS scales are similar in that both identify environments, activities, and jobs that different individuals have a proclivity for. In fact, many career coaches and guides apply both scales in similar ways. However, they differ in that the GOT’s tend to be broad while BIS’s offer a granular, detailed view. For example, the GOT scale may guide a job seeker towards the Artistic category of careers, while the BIS scale may help them distinguish among possible careers in design, communication, and performing arts. By using both scales in conjunction with one another, the SII provides a way of understanding jobs and job seekers independently, as well as a way of identifying where they might overlap.

How Does the Strong Interest Inventory® Test Work?

The SII is revolutionary in that instead of matching individuals simplistically with careers, it delves deeper into an individual’s patterns and what they would be happiest in doing and what occupations would align with the features of their make-up.  Furthermore, the SII directs job seekers to one or more career categories. It works through a simple three-step process. The first step is taking a survey that gathers information about the job seeker. For example, do you prefer to collaborate with others or work individually? Would you rather have a flexible schedule or have a structured 9-5 workday? Are you a strong writer or do you have a more mathematical mind? Are you more invested in solving problems or in mentoring individuals? The SII not only sheds light on what characteristics your ideal career might have but can also help you become more conscious of less-than-ideal circumstances in your current position so you can avoid those features next time.

From there, the SII analyzes the survey results and cross-references question responses to a database of responses from professionals who are currently working in those fields. For instance, are your responses more like the responses of teachers, nurses, or paralegals? Third, the SII recommends the careers of people who shared responses with you. If your responses are like engineers’, for example, it will recommend that you consider engineering as a career. Since the SII database contains hundreds of careers, its insights can help job seekers narrow the scope of their job search to those careers or subject areas that are most likely to be a good fit for them.

What Does the Strong Interest Inventory Test Measure?

The empirical approach of the Strong Interest Inventory Test is to measure the degree to which an individual likes or identifies with a broad range of occupations, subject areas, professional and leisure activities, people, and personal characteristics. The inventory consists of 291 items in total, 282 of which are Likert-style and involve choosing among “strongly like”, “like”, “indifferent”, “dislike”, or “strongly dislike.” The other 9 items, which delve into the personality characteristics of the job seeker, are similar but have slightly different wording to reflect personal identification: “strongly like me”, “like me”, “don’t know”, “unlike me”, or “strongly unlike me”.

After job seekers complete this 30-45 minute questionnaire, their results are analyzed and presented in the form of a report. The report has several sections, each of which reports the individual’s level of interest in a different area. Below is a summary of each one.

General Occupational Themes (GOT): The SII typically identifies individuals’ three top interest areas, though in some cases the report may only identify one or two areas. These direct the job seeker towards general career categories they may wish to explore more deeply.

Basic Interest Scales (BIS): There are 30 different Basic Interest Scales (BIS) that represent primary interests in specific leisure and professional activities as well as academic subject areas. Examples of BIS’s are public speaking, painting, and mentoring.

Occupational Scales: There are almost 250 different occupational scales. Typically, this section offers job seekers a shortlist of vocations that complement their interests. This list is created by cross-referencing the responses of the individual taking the SII with a large database of responses from working professionals. The more similar one’s responses are to those professionals in each career, the more likely it is that the SII analysis will recommend that one consider that career.

Personal Style Scales: There are five personal style scales, which measure individuals’ interest in work style, learning environment, leadership style, leadership, and team orientation. This analysis can be helpful while making fine distinctions between career options, such as deciding to work for a larger firm rather than forming a small business and being self-employed.

Profile Summary: In addition to a prose analysis, most SII reports also offer a Profile Summary, which contains visual representations of individuals’ results.

Norming, Reliability, and Validity

As with any survey or analysis, the SII has been thoughtfully designed and normed to compare the results of people who are actively looking for jobs to the results of people in the general population. The SII has also been evaluated to ensure its results are valid and reliable. For example, studies have shown that an individual’s results rarely change significantly over time, especially if they have already graduated from college. Furthermore, studies have shown that the SII is equally valid for women and men, though certain sections of the assessment are normed by gender (i.e., if the job seeker is a woman, then her responses will be compared to those of other women) because it has been demonstrated that there are systematic differences between the responses of men and women.

What the Strong Interest Inventory Test is NOT

It is important to note that the Strong Interest Inventory Test is not a personality assessment, like the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory® (MBTI®), nor is it an aptitude test meant to assess how qualified someone is for a specific job. The SII is a career test. That means the main purpose of the SII is to help people identify vocations that they may find fulfilling and satisfying, which is different from developing the expertise needed to be successful in that field. In other words, while the SII might recommend that an individual consider becoming a veterinary technician because they have a proclivity for logical reasoning and scientific thought, enjoy working with animals, are fulfilled by serving their community, and benefit from collaborating with other people, the SII does not assess individuals’ expertise in veterinary science, anatomy, chemistry, or other relevant subject areas.


The Strong Interest Inventory’s comprehensive quantitative analysis coupled with its design, clarity, and universal relevance makes it an international standard for vocational consulting. If you’re asking yourself “Where can I take the Strong Interest Inventory Test?” The SII is available online at certified website administrators, at university career centers as well as from career coaching professionals and some psychologists, therapists, and social workers. One can purchase an SII administration easily using a user-friendly platform at https://careerassessmentsite.com.

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