Now that you’ve learned about Holland’s Interest Type system and taken the O*NET Interest Profiler, it’s time to interpret your Profiler results.

What was it like filling out the Profiler?  Was it easy, hard, interesting, anxiety-provoking?  The thoughts and feelings that you had while taking the Profiler can offer valuable information about the accuracy of your scores.  For example, if you found yourself feeling overwhelmed and anxious, this could have led you to answer questions in ways that don’t represent your true interests, leading to scores that may not accurately measure how strongly each type measures your career interests.

Did you notice yourself thinking about education/training, money, or hobbies-only activities (see list above) when answering these questions?  Is it likely that some of these topics biased your scores?  If so, should you artificially adjust your scores upward or downward on some types to compensate?  Should you retake the Profiler again, making sure not to let these things impact your answers?  Take a moment now to write down any initial responses you have to these questions.  If you have access to a qualified career exploration specialist, this is a good time to talk these questions through with the specialist.

One thing that is both a strength and limitation of the Holland Interest Types system is that there are only 6 types used to describe people and occupations.  People and occupations are diverse and it is certainly a bit of an oversimplification to define them by a combination of just 6 types.  However, having a maximum of 6 types has helped make the system practical to use for career exploration, and the research evidence does provide general support for the existence of these 6 major types.  Why am I bringing this up?  The reasons is that when we try to classify people by using only just 6 types, each type encompasses a wide variety of things.  For example, Realistic incorporates working with machines, working in nature, and athletic activities.  These three kinds of activities are quite different in some ways, even though they all share the common thread of “doing physical, hands-on activities”.  This diversity within each type can impact your scores.  For example, if I love working with machines but hate nature and animals, I might score in the low to moderate range on the Realistic type because I like one aspect of Realistic but dislike these other two aspects.  Thus, even if doing hands-on jobs that involve machines would be a great fit for me and thus the Realistic type does indeed capture an important part of my career interests, my score might underestimate my true degree of interest in this type.  It might make it seem like I don’t like to “do physical, hands-on activities” even if I actually love to do this in certain contexts (e.g., with machines).  This example drives home the value of being able to work with a qualified career exploration specialist who can help you correctly interpret your career interest assessment scores.  There is plenty of complexity and nuance in accurately identifying our career interests and it is hard to do this alone without the support of an expert.  Thus, if you have access to a specialist, this is a good time to consult with them to make sure you are interpreting your Profiler results correctly.  And if it is not practical or affordable to obtain consultation (a lot of folks are in this situation), that’s Ok; we’ll do the best job we can.  In fact, taking the Basic Interest Survey (see below) to help double-check the accuracy of your Profiler results can be a great next steps towards ensuring more accurate determination of your true career interest types.

Our next task is to figure out whether or not your Profiler results are clear enough to allow you to proceed with classifying your types.  It is difficult to come up with clear decision rules about when results are clear versus unclear, as it’s much easier to determine by looking at specific cases (coming soon: check out these video examples where I talk about some specific cases).  However, I’ve tried my best to articulate some “signs,” as follows.

Here are some signs that your Profiler results are clear:

  • You have “high scores” (25 points or higher) on at least one but no more than three of the types, and “much lower scores” (at least 7 points lower) on the rest of the types.  For example, a person who scored R=40, I=39, A=37, S=29, E=15, and C=23 has three types (R, I, and A) with “high scores” while the remaining types (S, E, and C) have scores that are at least 7 points lower than the types with “high scores.”  Likewise, a person who scored R=40, I=25, A=15, S=23, E=15, and C=23 has one type (R) with a “high score” while the rest of the types (I, A, S, E, and C) have scores that are at least 7 points lower than the type with the “high score”.
  • When you review the definitions and descriptions of each Holland Interest type, you find that the types you scored high on do a good job of capturing your strongest career interests, and the types you scored low on do a good job of capturing the work tasks that are less interesting to you.
  • You are confident that difficult emotions or things like education/training, money, or hobbies-only activities (see above) didn’t bias your scores.
  • If your results are clear, proceed to classifying your types.  However, if you want to be cautious and double-check the accuracy of your Profiler scores, you can always go ahead and complete the Basic Interests Survey next.

Here are some signs that your Profiler results require additional clarification:

  • You have four or more “high scores” (25 points or higher).
  • You have five or more “low scores” (15 points or lower).
  • You have zero “low scores” (15 points or lower).
  • You have four or more scores that are at least 20 points AND at least three of these scores are within 5 points of each other.  For example, a person who scored R=40, I=39, A=38, S=26, E=15, and C=23 has at least 4 scores that are greater than 20 (R, I, A, and S) AND at least three of these scores are within 5 points of each other (R, I, and A).
  • When you review the definitions and descriptions of each Holland Interest type, you find that some of the types you scored high on do not really seem to capture your strong career interests, and the types you scored low on seem to capture work tasks that you actually are interested in.
  • You think that difficult emotions or things like education/training, money, or hobbies-only activities (see above) may have biased your scores.
  • The limitations of having only 6 types may have led you to get scores on certain types that don’t accurately capture your interest (see above example regarding machines/nature/athletics and the Realistic type).
  • If your results require additional clarification, I strongly advise you complete the Basic Interests Survey next.