The Career Test Guide: How You Can Use Assessment And Aptitude Tests To Your Advantage

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Wondering what your next career step should be? A career aptitude test or career assessment could give you valuable information about the type of job you can excel at. Career assessments help you find jobs that fit your preferences and personality, while career aptitude tests are more specific to the type of job you’re interested in. Employers use career aptitude test and personality tests to find out to test your skills for a specific job or career. Prospective employers often want to know what your skills are before you’re hired. These skills include math, spatial reasoning, verbal reasoning, abstract reasoning, or situational awareness.

Since these tests are so important to career development and job hunting, many people choose to practice. We have written extensively about how to pass your pre-employment assessment. We highly recommend useing a site like JobTestPrep to get ready for the specific test you're asked to take.

There are plenty of free career assessments and aptitude tests available online. This guide takes you through a rundown of career tests, what they are used for, and how to prepare for the tests.

Summary of The Most Common Career Tests: Assessment vs. Aptitude

The following list is not exhaustive, but covers many of the most common tests that employers use to assess candidates. Follow the links if you need any help preparing for these exams. To learn more about each test, read on to the following sections.

Career Assessments

  1. Caliper
  2. 16 Personalities
  3. Big Five Factor Model
  4. Myers-Briggs
  5. Strengthsfinder

Career Aptitude Tests

  1. Numerical Reasoning
  2. Verbal Reasoning
  3. Abstract Reasoning
  4. Mechanical Aptitude
  5. Spatial Reasoning
  6. Logical Reasoning
  7. Situational Judgement

Career Assessments: What are they?

Career assessments are a great tool to help you choose a career path that suits your personality. These tests place less emphasis on skills and focus more on your preferences, habits and lifestyle. It can be difficult to see yourself clearly. A career assessment will help you identify your strengths and can connect you with a job that leverages those strengths.

Personality

Personality-based career assessments will help you understand various aspects of your personality. A classic personality test, like Myers-Briggs, identifies aspects of your personality like introversion or extroversion. An introverted person may not, for example, enjoy a job that involves a lot of social interaction. Extroverts may not like working in a lab or quiet office all day. There are many other aspects of your personality that you can understand as well.

Interests

Some career assessments can help you think through the types of work that might interest you. These tests may lead you to think about different fields you haven’t considered before. Often, we are only familiar with certain jobs based on our friends and family. That’s where an interest-based assessment can help you expand your horizons and consider a wider range of options.

The Career Cluster Interest Survey can help you clarify what types of activities you enjoy - and what you don’t like. The survey will recommend career clusters that line up with your interests. This is a great way to identify career options you haven’t thought of before!

Strengths & Skills

A personality test likes Strengthsfinder will help you understand what you are best at, and how you might parlay that into a career. Unlike a personality test, a strengths-based career assessment identifies what you are already good at. It also focuses on skills that are actionable in your work and career. As a result, an assessment that focuses on your strengths and skills will help you quickly identify the type of job that you might succeed in!

WHEN CAN A CAREER ASSESSMENT TEST HELP?

You might find yourself at a career crossroads at many different stages of life. At these points, career assessments can help you find the right path. You’ll probably spend 30 or more hours a week at work, so it’s important to enjoy what you do to earn money. A personality or job interest test can point you in the right direction.

High school or College

A high school or college student can gain major insights from a career assessment. High school students may be deciding whether to go to a four year college, community college, technical school or straight to the workforce. College students might be choosing a major or searching for that first post-graduation job. Early in your career, you might not be familiar with the variety of jobs that are out there. Career assessments are especially valuable in this situation. They’ll help you understand your options, give you fresh job ideas and help you make a plan for a rewarding future career!

Graduate Students

Although graduate students typically train in a specific area, they have different career options. A PhD scientist, for example, could pursue a few different career paths: research, academic or corporate. If you’re in this situation, it makes sense to understand your personality and interests. Insight into your preferences will help you figure out which career path would be a good fit for you - and which one would drive you crazy!

Job changes/transitions

Are you a few years into your career and feeling uninspired or burned out at work? You might be ready for a fresh challenge in a different field. Take a career assessment to help you think things through. If your current job is already a good fit, could you make some minor changes to feel more challenged? Would a different type of job or career be better suited to your personality and skills? A career assessment could be just the thing you need to think about your next job with new eyes.

Re-entering the workforce

Thirty percent of moms take time out of the workforce after their children are born. Other workers who aren’t moms take time off for any number of reasons - mental or physical health, caring for an adult family member, or a partner’s career move. If you’ve taken some time off and are ready to go back, it’s a great time to start fresh. Spend some time thinking about whether you want to go back to a job like the one you had before taking time off. If you want something new, a career assessment can help you pinpoint options that might be right for you.

BEST CAREER ASSESSMENT TESTS

From looking at aspects of your personality, to identifying specific strengths, career assessments can give your job search more direction and depth. Many are free to take, although some assessments do have a fee.

ASSESSMENTS FOR PERSONALITY AND STRENGTHS

Personality and strengths assessment will focus on your preferences, habits, beliefs and talents. They usually are not job-specific. Instead, these assessments will help you gain insight into how you like to interact with the world, which may help guide your career path.

Myers-Briggs

Take the Myers Briggs test to determine your four-letter personality type, according to the work of Carl Jung and Isabel Briggs Myers’ work on personality. For each personality trait, there are two different options:

Introvert/Extrovert

Sensing/Intuition

Thinking/Feeling

Judgement/Perception

These traits combine to make 16 different and distinct personalities. If you would like to have a full report, you can take a paid version of the test through MBTI online.

Caliper

The Caliper Assessment evaluates a job candidate’s personality and motivations. Caliper uses scientific research to predict the candidate’s future job performance. It also identifies potential challenge areas. Caliper can also compare a prospective employee’s results to validated job models. The test can quantify whether a candidate is likely to be a good fit for the role.

Strengthsfinder

The Strengthsfinder 2.0 assessment helps individuals focus on and develop their strengths. The assessment identifies what you naturally do well, what you enjoy and how you can develop your talents. Strengthsfinder also improves self-awareness by helping you understand the potential pitfalls of your strengths. Strengthsfinder is an excellent tool for individuals, managers and hiring managers.

Keirsey Temperament Sorter

The Keirsey Temperaments Sorter identifies four different types of people based on habits, communication, and values. The four temperaments are: Artisan, Guardian, Idealist and Rational. The temperaments describe how individuals communicate and act. Some people prefer concrete communication, while others like to abstract communication. While some individuals enjoy cooperative action, others just want to do what works.

The Keirsey temperament sorter can help managers understand how to manage employees. It also gives hiring companies insight into how a prospective employee will communicate and act. Certain temperaments will be more appropriate for certain roles.

Big Five

The Big Five personality test assesses five different characteristics that contribute to personality: extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness and openness to experience. These traits are part of the International Personality Item Pool, developed by Lewis Goldberg. They predict how a person will communicate and act, which can be helpful to prospective employers and job seekers alike.

16 Personalities

The 16 Personalities test combines the Myers Briggs types with the Big Five framework to identify sixteen distinct personality categories. 16 personalities may provide more nuanced insight into your personality since it is a combination of two different personality theories.

ASSESSMENTS FOR CAREER INTERESTS

Career Explorer Assessment

The Career Explorer Assessment helps you understand your personality type and career matches. This assessment can help you identify specific jobs or career paths to pursue based on your unique personality traits and skills.

Job Quiz

The Job Quiz only takes about 12 minutes to complete, and it compares you answers against hundreds of careers. This test evaluates your preferences, talents, and many more traits that are relevant in the workplace. The final result will be a list of jobs that suit your abilities and beliefs. It’s up to date with the latest careers, too!

Career Cluster

The Career Cluster assessment will evaluate your personality, activities you enjoy and academic subjects you like to help you find career clusters that may be right for you. A career cluster is a specific group of similar jobs. One career cluster is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Another cluster is Human Services. This practical assessment will point you in the right direction, and it’s particularly useful for students.

Holland Code

The Holland Code test is based on the work of American psychologist John Holland. Holland defined six different personality types - Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising and Conventional. You can focus on different jobs based on your personality type. The Holland Code assessment is widely used in high school and college career counseling.

Career Aptitude Tests: What Are They?

You might take a career aptitude test when you’re applying for jobs. These exams can assess specific skills to work in the field you’re interested in. The USA Hire exam measures applicants to over 40 federal government agencies.

Software development companies often give prospective employees a programming test. Career aptitude tests give employers the information they need to make confident hiring decisions. A career test also serves you, as an employee, by helping you find a job that aligns with your skill set.

MOST COMMON CAREER APTITUDE TESTS FOR GENERAL SKILLS

Numerical Reasoning & Math Aptitude

A Numerical Reasoning aptitude test evaluates your ability to use numbers in everyday scenarios. This type of career aptitude test presents data in a number of different ways, such as graphs, tables, or equations. You will apply the numbers to financial situations and hypothetical business decisions. The questions will prove your ability to draw conclusions from numbers. Numerical Reasoning is important for senior managers, sales professionals, analysts, and data scientists.

Verbal Reasoning

Verbal Reasoning Aptitude tests look at your deductive reasoning skills. They also consider your ability to make a logical statement verbally. The Verbal Reasoning career test isn’t about grammar, punctuation or spelling. Instead, you will analyze an issue described in words. Topics can include history, business, politics, and more. Some Verbal Reasoning tests also assess reading comprehension skills.

Abstract Reasoning

An Abstract Reasoning exam tests your soft skills. This career test looks at your logical thinking, pattern recognition, and analytical skills. You’ll also show on your ability to think under pressure. You may apply your analytical and creative thinking skills to new problems. This test provides prospective employers with a view of your thought process. It also assesses your ability to identify patterns, problems and opportunities.

Mechanical Aptitude Test

Jobs like firefighter, auto mechanic, and aircraft technician require a Mechanical Aptitude test. The military often uses Mechanical Aptitude tests as well. You can take two different mechanical aptitude tests. The first test covers theoretical physics and electricity. Questions on this test address complicated scenarios related to electrical circuits, fluids, and levers. The other Mechanical Aptitude test looks at basic practical mechanics. Test two covers common scenarios that might occur in day-to-day work, like electrical safety.

In-Basket Tests

In-Basket Aptitude tests are frequently given to prospective managers and supervisors. An in-basket test simulates a real-world leadership scenario. You’ll make snap decisions about prioritization, workforce management, and workplace disagreements. This career test will help you show good judgement in high-pressure scenarios and show that you have the skills to manage a team.

Spatial Reasoning Tests

A Spatial Reasoning test evaluates your ability to understand relationships between different objects and space. During the test, you’ll be asked to answer questions about two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects. Spatial Reasoning tests are testing four different skills:

Spatial Perception: The ability to perceive spatial relationships with respect to your body, even when there is extraneous information. You need spatial perception ability when you’re navigating with a compass, understanding a car’s engine, or shooting hoops.

Spatial Visualization: The ability to mentally manipulate figures in two and three dimensions.

Mental Folding: The ability to imagine what a two dimensional image would look like if it were folded into a three dimensional shape. Mental Rotation: The ability to imagine what a two dimensional or three dimensional shape will look like when rotated.

Public service jobs, like firefighters and police offers, often need good spatial reasoning skills. Architects, mechanics, engineers, and interior designers also need strong spatial reasoning abilities.

Raven Matrices Test

The Raven Matrices Test was developed in the 1930’s to measure intelligence and cognitive functioning. It uses geometric shapes and patterns to evaluate intelligence. The test has no written words. It attempts to separate innate cognitive ability from cultural, educational or economic differences.

Logical Reasoning Test

A Logical Reasoning test evaluates your reading comprehension skills. You’ll read a passage and answer a series of questions about what you have read. This test usually contains two different types of questions:

True, False or Undetermined: This type of question asks you whether a statement is true, false or indeterminate based on the information you read. Multiple Choice: A multiple choice question may ask you to recall sequences, patterns or groupings from the passage you read. You may also have to make a conclusion or choose the best action based on the information.

Logical Reasoning may be a section of a Civil Service exam.

MOST COMMON CAREER APTITUDE TESTS FORJOB-SPECIFIC SKILLS

Clerical Aptitude Tests

You may take a Clerical Reasoning test if you apply to a clerical position, like bank teller, cashier, data entry worker, or file clerk. A clerical career test will assess your efficiency, time management skills and attention to detail. You will also need to show your technical abilities, like typing, data entry, filing, and proofreading. Clerical positions are often customer facing. Prospective employers want to understand your communication and customer service skills.

Police Officer Test

If you’re interested in becoming a Police Officer, you’ll probably take a Police Officer Exam. Different states give different police entrance tests, so you should prepare for the specific exam you’ll be taking if possible. Police exams test the abilities you’ll need as a law enforcement official, like logical reasoning and situational awareness.

Firefighter Test

Prospective firefighters are commonly given a set of tests to assess many different skills they’ll need to have on the job. Fire departments test new firefighters on Mathematical and Mechanical Reasoning, Reading Comprehension, and Spatial Orientation. The firefighter test may also evaluate Situational Judgement, Observation, Memory, and Personality. You can practice each type of test so you can be as prepared as possible for the Firefighter Exam.

Supervisor Test

If you want to make the move to a supervisor role, expect to show your abilities in a number of different areas. Supervisory tests will look at your ability to effectively lead. The test could include topics like conflict resolution, mentoring and coaching, and communication. You may also take tests regarding your integrity and decision-making style.

Supervisory tests frequently include a Situational Judgement Test (SJT) to help employers understand how you would approach different situations. A Supervisory Exam might also include personality tests to give employers more insight into your behaviors and emotions.

Call Center Agent Test

Many call centers give a Call Center Agent Assessment to prospective employees. A successful call center agent has strong customer service and communication skills. You also need to have good clerical and typing abilities to do well in a call center role.

The call center agent exam may include a self-assessment portion. In this section, you’ll answer questions about yourself that give insight into your personality. You might also take a Customer Service Situational Judgment Test to show how you might approach a difficult situation at work. Call center tests also evaluate computer skills, data entry, typing, and audio transcription. Some call center agent exams include questions that test your reading comprehension, math and logical reasoning.

Air Force Officers Test

The Air Force Officers Qualifying Test (AFOQT) is a predictor of success in officer commissioning programs. The AFOQT evaluates the many different skills that candidates need to be a successful Air Force Officer. The test includes sections that cover specific abilities, like:

Pilot Combat Systems Officer Air Battle Manager

The AFOQT also tests officer candidates on general knowledge and skills. This section of the test might include questions about:

Situational Judgement Test (SJT) Math Reading Comprehension Verbal Skills Quantitative Skills

The AFOQT has a very specific format and consists of 3 hours and 37 minutes of testing time. The exam takes about five hours total, including breaks.

Sales Agents Test

Sales Agent Tests assess your ability to succeed in the sales process. The test is similar to a personality test. It looks at how you handle situations that come up frequently in sales. You might answer questions about how you react to criticism, drive toward a sales goal and work as a team. Some companies might also want to understand how much you know about relevant products and the marketplace.

Clerical Agents Test

Different clerical agent tests apply to different clerical positions. Secretaries, typists, data entry specialists, and office support staff need to typing skills and basic computer skills. You might need more specific knowledge for clerical positions like Legal Assistant, Revenue Compliance Officer or Police Operations Aide. Choose the type of job you’re looking for to prepare specifically for that job family’s Clerical Agent Test.

Bankers Tests

Bankers need clerical skills as well as mathematical abilities. A Bankers Test will evaluate math skills, personality, situational judgement, and reading comprehension. It’s important for banks to test prospective employees since Bank Tellers and Personal Bankers will be handling money. Tellers and bankers are also important customer-facing service team members.

Software Developer Test

It can be hard for a tech recruiter to assess a software developer’s coding ability based on their resume alone. Writing a resume is a completely different skill from writing good code. That’s why some tech companies give prospective employees a coding test during the interview process. Sites like Coding Game allow employers to choose from a set of predefined test or build their own questions. If you’re applying for a software developer position, expect that you will take a coding exam during the interview process.

Federal Government Worker Test

Many government agencies administer the Federal Civil Service assessment, called USA Hire, to prospective employees. If you apply to the FBI, NSA, Treasury, IRS, or a number of other government agencies, you will take the USA Hire test. The Federal Civil Service exam tests academic skills like math and reading comprehension. It also evaluates your judgement, logical reasoning, and personality. This exam is standard across many government entities and job openings.

Local/State Government Worker Test

If you’re applying for a job with your state or local government, you may take a career test specific to that state or locality. California requires applicants to take an exam. You can only apply to jobs with the state of California once you pass the exam. New York State administers civil service exams for state employees and some localities.

The Career Test Recap

Whether you’re at a job crossroads or just starting out, career assessments and career aptitude tests can get you started in the right direction. Take a career assessment to identify jobs that could be a great fit for your personality, talents and beliefs. Once you’ve honed in on a few options, taking a career aptitude test can be the first step to a rewarding and productive career in your chosen field!