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What Should I Expect from a Vocational Test?

By Simone Lawson
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A vocational test helps individuals find suitable vocations by assessing such areas as ability, personality characteristics, personal interests and the capacity for working in groups. Some vocational tests are broken down into sections that include aptitude testing for mathematics, writing, vocabulary and technological knowledge, while others focus mainly on personality assessment. A vocational test may be taken by adolescents, young adults or those seeking to make a mid-life career change. Once the ability assessment has been completed, a series of questions is usually presented to match abilities with areas of personal interest.

The Myers-Briggs test is probably the most-widely used vocational test. This test focuses mostly on defining personality traits and examining how individuals relate to groups and authority figures. A Myers-Briggs test may be given by employers to determine if job candidates possess characteristics that are suitable for a particular job.

The Myers-Briggs test presents a series of questions that inquire about personal preferences for working in groups, environments that are most comfortable for individuals and how one may prefer to communicate. The test typically consists of 50 to 75 multiple choice questions. It is used not only to assess vocational abilities, but to define personality traits and relationship qualities as well.

There are other vocational tests that focus solely on an individual’s area of interest and match those interests with specific careers. A vocational test of this type will typically ask a series of questions inquiring about interest in working on problem solving, creative tasks, organization or mechanics. The areas of interest are then paired with matching careers. For example, one whose test answers show a high level of interest in organization and problem solving may receive suggestions for careers that involve business administration or mathematics.

Another type of vocational test measures vocational aptitude in addition to the individual’s area of natural interest. A vocational aptitude test generally includes several multiple choice questions broken down into general categories, such as mathematics, science, mechanics, reading and writing. The area that receives the most correct answers is generally considered to be the strongest area of skill.

Once the skill level has been determined, a series of questions regarding personal preferences and interests will usually follow. This also tends to be a multiple choice section that inquires about personal preferences for working in groups as well as artistic and economic interests. The two tests are then analyzed to find vocations that match the individual’s skill level and primary areas of interest.

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Discussion Comments

By indigomoth — On Feb 22, 2012

The idea of a company giving me a personality test in order to see if I would fit in well seems so ridiculous.

It just seems so easy to pass the test, saying whatever you think they want to hear.

You do need to be careful about though, since often they will put trick questions into the exam.

I had a friend who was testing for a job at a department store and he answered the question "Have you ever told a lie" with "No" I guess thinking that's what they wanted to hear.

They didn't hire him and one of them told him afterwards that that question was a trick. Of course he has lied, everyone has lied at least once in his life. They just wanted to know if he would be honest enough to admit to it.

By pastanaga — On Feb 22, 2012

@KoiwiGal - To some extent I agree with you, but then the job market is always so insecure. I think this kind of vocational career test will most tell you where your strengths are and what you are likely to be good at, rather than telling you a set in stone career that you must follow.

And I think people should keep options open. It's wonderful to talk about following your dreams and all, but the reality is most people have to work in order to live.

I think the trick is to be sensible, but also follow your dream job as much as possible. The sad thing is when people go into a job that they plan to leave one day and then never leave because they are afraid of change.

And then there are people who like working in order to make money so they can spend it on their dream. There's nothing wrong with that either.

By KoiwiGal — On Feb 21, 2012

I wouldn't put too much faith into these kinds of tests. I think it's pretty easy to put in an answer that gets blown out of proportion.

And when it comes down to it, what you might be good at might not be what you would prefer to do. You might be really good with people for example, which might make it seem like you would be excellent at retail, but in reality your heart is set alight by working outdoors as a gardener or a ranger or something like that.

I think you should definitely try to get some experience in different jobs rather than just trying one and staying with it for your whole life.

Your job is where you spend a majority of your day. You should try to make it something that you really enjoy.

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