If a career test is really good at identifying what career(s) a student should consider, wouldn't that career test be a valuable tool for employers to use in the selection process?

Ask your high school career guidance counselor which "employers" are using their career test for hiring and selection purposes. You might be surprised, and dissappointed, to find that "no" employer is using the career test that is being used by the school for career advising.

There is a reason for this. It has to do with test reliability. Some career tests tell you that you are one thing when you are actually something else. Worse, they match you with jobs, training programs, or college majors that have nothing to do with what is best for the student. For example, one "Holland-based" test might report that your highest score is for the Artistic personality type when actually it is Enterprising -- a very different personality! Unfortunately, that is a common result for people taking publicly available career tests. The old saying "you get what you pay for" is very accurate when it comes to career tests.
Know the Truth

How do we know this? It is basically stated in the fine print on these career test websites. The problem with many of the Holland-based and MBTI tests (popular in many high schools) is that they do not measure what they are supposed to measure. Experts would say these tests lack "test validity". Also, the way an assessment is used can create confusion and poor advice. To direct a student toward careers based on an incomplete picture of the student's talent profile is about as helpful as using the horoscope to select careers.

Unfortunately, the Internet is loaded with career assessments or career tests that don't measure up. They go by a variety of names, like: sorter, finder, quiz, and survey. Invalid assessments are also found being used in high schools and college career centers.

You'll find some of the most popular career tests are actually guilty of poor validity and reliability (example: Myers Briggs Type Indicator).

The National Academy of Sciences committee reviewed data from over 20 MBTI research studies and concluded that only one, the Intraversion-Extroversion scale, has adequate construct validity. In contrast, the S-N and T-F scales show relatively weak validity. No mention was made in this review about the J-P scale. Overall, the review committee concluded that the MBTI has not demonstrated adequate validity although its popularity and use has been steadily increasing. The National Academy of Sciences review committee concluded that: ‘at this time, there is not sufficient, well-designed research to justify the use of the MBTI in career counseling programs’, the very thing that it is most often used for.


The "newest" most likely do not have large population samples to support a validiity study (validation studies using a population sample of 100 is not acceptable, look for validation data that uses thousands in their population sample).

Valid career measures are the result of years of scientific study and maintained on a regular basis. The results of these studies are reported in scientific journals and/or in professional training manuals and validation study white papers for the test. This takes time and money. Consequently, anything for free is most likely not something that has gone through rigorous validation studies to ensure it is current, and, most likely has not been painstakingly constructed to ensure reliability.

One simple hint that the quality of the assessment is questionable is the amount of time required to complete the assessment. Many poorly constructed assessments will take an hour or more to complete. Test fatigue becomes a significant factor, especially with teenagers, when an assessment takes too long to finish. The Career Coaching for Students™ assessments take approximately 10 minutes each to complete - well within the amount of time before test fatigue becomes an issue.

We've provided links to articles about career assessments that we found in our research (see links at bottom of this article). There are many studies that are uncovering the shortcomings of various career-oriented assessments. And there are many professional counsleors and career coaches that have invested years into using a specific assessment (MBTI), may even be certified, and do not have the desire to change direction. This doesn't make the career assessments they use more valid or more reliable.

We've provided the Validation/Reliability studies for the two assessments we use - the DISC Behavioral Style assessment and the Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values (PIAV) assessment. Scroll down to find the links to these white papers.

Tap on the image to open the information flyer.

About Our AssessmentsCareer Coaching for Students™ administers two assessments and integrates the results to help the student identify high-potential career possibilities. One is a DISC behavioral assessment. The other  uses the Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values (PIAV) assessment. The DISC assessment combined with the Personal Interests, Attitudes and Values (PIAV) assessment creates a proprietary multi-dimensional picture of a person's talents ("Why" you do what you do and "How" you do what you do). 

The Nielson Group, parent to Success Discoveries LLC, has been helping companies use the DISC and PIAV assessments to accurately evaluate applicant talent-job fit since 1999. The maker of the assessments is TTI Performance Systems Ltd. (TTI). If you were to search "DISC assessment" you would find enough references to see how the assessment is being used. But even with that, you'll also find multiple DISC providers (competitors to TTI) that have their own DISC-based assessment and the quality (validity and reliability) of those assessments will be different.

TTI's DISC and PIAV assessments are leaders for measuring behavioral style and motivators accurately. Unfortunately, some educators and counselors do not understand the importance of assessment validity and reliability even though their ethical standards require it.

Be wary of career test endorsements by colleges, trade schools or universities or public links from their web pages. These organizations' primary purpose is for marketing - to show you why you need to attend their program. The general rule is that if it is free it isn't likely to be useful. A better quality assessment output won't tell you what to do but it will help you:

  • Learn about yourself
  • Identify high potential careers to consider
  • Make more informed decisions

The use of invalid career tests on the Internet is a serious problem. Several articles have recently appeared in publications of the National Career Development Association, American Counseling Association, and the American School Counselors Association.

Measuring the MBTI and Coming Up Short by David J. Pittenger

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI: Some Psychometric Limitations

TTI Performance Systems Validation Study for DISC

TTI Performance Systems Validation Study for PIAV

Lewis, P, & Rivkin, D. (1999). O*Net Interest Profiler. Raleigh, NC: National Center for O*NET Development.

Rounds, J., Smith, T., Hubert, L., Lewis, P., & Rivkin, D. (1999). O*Net Interest Profiler: Reliability, validity, and self-scoring. Raleigh, NC: National Center for O*NET Development.

Rounds, R., Mazzeo, S. E., Smith, T. J., & Hubert, L. (1999) . O*Net Interest Profiler: Reliability, validity, and comparability. Raleigh, NC: National Center for O*NET Development.

U.S. Department of Labor. (2000). O*Net Interest Profiler, User's Guide. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.