What is the difference between a career test and a personality test?

Written By: Jorgen Last Updated Feb. 6, 2019

Career tests and personality tests, while broadly very similar, are distinguished mostly by which traits they measure, and by their output.

Traits Generally Measured by a Career Test

Career tests traditionally take the approach of recommending careers to you based on the kinds of activities you are interested in. That means that they tend to ask questions like “would you enjoy writing a script for a play?” or “would you enjoy negotiating on behalf of a client?” Basically, career tests measure how much you would enjoy different activities, and then match you with careers based on the types of activities they usually require. The Holland Code system is a good example of this.

Traits Generally Measured by a Personality Test

Personality tests seek to describe useful insights about who you are as a person: what types of things make you happy or sad, how you work in a team setting, whether you thrive in a more structured or unstructured environment, and so on. The goal is generally to achieve a higher level of self understanding that will help you work or live better, or to help an organization understand its people better to provide the best possible work environment. Personality tests tend to ask you to grade how well certain statements describe who you are, like “I can’t stand being late for anything” or “I prefer working alone to working in a team.” Based on responses to these types of questions, a personality test will measure your score on multiple personality traits, like introversion vs. extroversion, independence, or reliability. The Big 5 model is a good example of what is measured by a personality test.

Output of a Career Test

The basic purpose of a career test is to recommend careers that match your interests. A good career test will tell you not only which careers you should look at, but also why they could be a good match for you. Most career tests stop there, but a great one helps you actually take your next step towards becoming the career you choose. That’s why CareerExplorer works with partner companies and schools, to offer you real world options instead of just recommendations.

Output of a Personality Test

Personality tests provide written insights, sometimes complimented with raw data on your traits, in the form of a physical or digital report. These types of reports can be used by individuals to understand themselves better, but are often used in career counselling or professional development contexts where a trained and trusted expert can help guide the learning and provide additional perspective.

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