Looking at the Strong Scales as Puzzle Pieces
Written by Cheryl Hollatz-Wisely, MEd, Lead Trainer, GS Consultants
It is nice when our students and clients take the Strong Interest Inventory and their GOT, BIS and OS results align. The interpretation is straightforward when there are thematic patterns across all the scales and the Basic Interests are reflected in the top 10-20 Occupational Scales. It is like a jigsaw puzzle where all of the pieces fit and deliver that satisfying “snap” that comes from putting the last Jigsaw piece into place. When there is congruency across the Strong it is easy to help our clients leave the interpretation with specific next steps and ideas for exploration.
But the clients who seek our help in choosing a major or career aren’t typically the textbook cases. In reality, we are more likely to see flat, undifferentiated, and elevated Strong results than not. In my recent CPP webinar on unique and challenging profiles, I discussed these types of challenging profiles and gave some interpretation strategies. People are complex, and Strong results are often complex too!
In this final blog of the series, I want to look at some approaches we can take when we have results that are unique and the pieces just don’t seem to fit together.
Here is an example for us to look at:
This is a 16-year old female high school student with a 1-letter GOT code (S) and her top Basic Interest and Occupational Scales. Before we dive in to these results, here are a few reminders:
- Strong results don’t have to be “High” to give us good information to explore.
- The most important consideration is differentiation. As long as one, two, or three Themes emerge, we have a starting point.
- The Strong is a window into where the respondent is right now. Given this student’s age, we can assume she is still growing into who she is and who she will become.
Even when the results don’t seem to line up neatly, the first thing we want to look for is consistency of RIASEC coding across these three scales. In the example above we can see that the S (Social) theme is the one theme that emerges on all her GOT, BIS and OS scales. Also the Artistic and Enterprising themes seem to be peeking through on the Basic Interests and Occupational Scales.
Next we want to look at the relationship of her top 10 occupations to her BISs. This is at the root of interpreting Strong results: The Basic Interests that are the most powerful for guiding respondents are those that are supported by related OSs. But, of course, we don’t want to get stuck on the job titles – – instead, we want to pull way back to find the larger emerging patterns.
As we look at the data above, I am seeing the most overlap in the “health” and “helping” fields. See how those trends are emerging on both the BISs and the OSs? We know that her personality (GOT code of “S”) means that she is motivated “to help.” And clearly this desire to help is expressed on the other scales too. Knowing that she is a few years away from college or professional/technical training, the most important thing for her to do is to get to know herself better, including her likes and dislikes. We also we want her to broaden her experiences with the world of work and I would support her in brainstorming some ideas to help with this, including volunteer opportunities, student clubs or organizations she might want to get involved in at her high school, and so on.
One of the most helpful activities we can use with inconsistent profiles is to have clients consider what each scale offers them so they can put the pieces together for themselves. The GOT scale looks at “who I am”, the top 5 BISs are “what I like/enjoy”, the top 10+ OSs are about “potentially satisfying work environments” and the PSSs are “how I like to work and learn.” A client might describe themselves as helpful and creative (SA GOTs) and being interested in things related to health and legal issues (Healthcare Services & Law BISs) and sees themselves working in a fast paced business environment where things are organized and structured (E & C OSs). A challenging profile can make perfect sense if we create a collaborative space during the interpretation session. Remember, the client is the local expert!
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