A test that determines a person's preferences for specific fields or activities.
An interest inventory is a testing instrument designed for the purpose of measuring and evaluating the level of an individual's interest in, or preference for, a variety of activities; also known as interest test. Testing methods include direct observation of behavior, ability tests, and self-reporting inventories of interest in educational, social, recreational, and vocational activities. The activities usually represented in interest inventories are variously related to occupational areas, and these instruments and their results are often used in vocational guidance.
The first widely used interest inventory was the Strong Vocational Interest Blank, developed in 1927 by E.K. Strong. The original test was designed for men only; a version for women was developed in 1933. In 1974 the Strong test was merged into the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory, which was further revised in 1981. The test contains 325 activities, subjects, etc. Takers of this test are asked whether they like, dislike, or are indifferent to 325 items representing a wide variety of school subjects, occupations, activities, and types of people. They are also asked to choose their favorite among pairs of activities and indicate which of 14 selected characteristics apply to them. The Strong-Campbell test is scored according to 162 separate occupational scales as well as 23 scales that group together various types of occupations ("basic interest scales"). Examinees are also scored on six "general occupational themes" derived from J.L. Holland's interest classification scheme (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional).
The other most commonly administered interest inventory is the Kuder Preference Record, originally developed in 1939. The Kuder Preference Record contains 168 items, each of which lists three broad choices concerning occupational interests, from which the individual selects the one that is most preferred. The test is scored on 10 interest scales consisting of items having a high degree of correlation with each other. A typical score profile will have high and low scores on one or more of the scales and average scores on the rest.
Other interest inventories include the Guilford-Zimmerman Interest Inventory, the G-S-Z Interest Survey, the California Occupational Preference Survey, the Jackson Vocational Interest Survey, and the Ohio Vocational Interest Survey. There are also inventories designed especially for children, for the disabled, and for those interested in the skilled trades.
Interest inventories are widely used in vocational counseling, both with adolescents and adults. Since these tests measure only interest and not ability, their value as predictors of occupational success, while significant, is limited. They are especially useful in helping high school and college students become familiar with career options and aware of their vocational interests. Interest inventories are also used in employee selection and classification.