The Pitfalls of Vocational Tests

Beware of Experts
In What Color Is Your Parachute, author Richard Bolles’s cautions readers about the consequences of good and bad vocational testing.

He tells the story of a man who was given the Strong Inventory by a counselor then told that according to the test results he had no mechanical aptitude; zip, nada. Traumatized, test-taker was afraid to use a hammer, but several years later, he discovered that the counselor had misinterpreted the results of the test. The test-taker was understandably furious, especially after he discovered that he not only had mechanical ability, but he enjoyed the work.

Lesson: While many experts are competent, some are inept and sometimes just downright biased. But a major issue that wasn’t addressed in the story was that the test-taker little about the test other than what he was told. The counselor said the Strong Inventory measured aptitudes, but anyone who has investigated vocational testing know that this information is false. Strong Inventory only measures interests; interests and aptitudes are not synonymous.

If the test-taker had researched the Strong Inventory before taking the test, he would have known that the counselor was not knowledgeable about the material he was administering.

Bolles, R. (2011). What Color is your Parachute. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley,CA.



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