Do What Interests You

Maybe this scenario is familiar to you: You suffered through an excruciating job and could never quite put your finger on why you hated it so much, especially when other people seemed to revel in it. Perhaps you were stuck in an office crunching numbers when you longed to be meeting with clients, or you were told to dream up a slogan for a publicity campaign when you much preferred persuading people to donate money to a political campaign. Career-counseling professionals agree that your best career choices are ones based on your long-standing interests. Jobs in those careers are more likely to be far more fulfilling. Many successful people agree that if you're doing what you love, the money and everything else will fall into place. Finding out your particular interests — what you love to do — is the purpose of taking an interests test.

“Interests” can be any subjects, activities, or industries that you find fascinating. You may already be skilled in them or not know much about them but want to learn more. The more you know about your interests and how they fit into a predictable pattern, the more comfortable you will become with making a commitment to a career direction. Tests such as these help you see how your interests fit into the world of work. Happily, you will see that you are both unique and marketable, with qualities that employers are willing to pay for even as you take pleasure in your job.

This kind of test is both reflective and introspective. As you tap into your own understanding of yourself, you allow that information to guide your career choices. You should take this test again every few years to help track your evolving interests and monitor your career growth. A very general interest, such as liking to work with your hands, is unlikely to change during your life, but more specific interests, such as refinishing furniture or teaching elementary students, may wax or wane as you learn about new fields or get exposed to new experiences.

Think about hobbies you enjoy in your leisure time, work activities that you do or have done well, ideas and activities that are or have been important to you, appointed or elected positions you have held (which may have nothing to do with any job you have had), and any tasks you have enjoyed that were related to jobs you held in the past. Anything and everything you can think of will illuminate and inform your ultimate career decisions.

How an Interests Test Works

An instrument that assesses your interests can help you identify the theme or themes that define those interests. After you complete the test, you will begin to notice patterns in your responses. For example, understanding that you like to manage structured projects outdoors, build things, and collaborate with other people will lead you to explore different careers than if your test results indicate that you like to work alone to develop imaginative ideas while you craft images into something aesthetically pleasing. Depending on your ultimate goal, an interests test will help you:

  • Organize your interests into themes or patterns

  • Identify job titles to research further

  • Find careers that are right for you

  • Change careers

  • Ascertain necessary training or further education

  • Determine ways to balance your work and leisure time

  • Increase your job satisfaction

  • What Interests Tests Don't Do

    An assessment of your interests doesn't measure your aptitude, skills, or values. It won't evaluate your ability to do certain jobs or tell you whether you will ultimately be happy in a particular career. It doesn't tell you how smart you are. It also doesn't lock you into a specific type forever. As noted previously, people change and interests change.

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