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PART 2: The Mystery of the Unhappy CPA [The Strong Assessment: Who and Where You Are Right Now]

PART 2: The Mystery of the Unhappy CPA [The Strong Assessment: Who and Where You Are Right Now]

The Strong Assessment: Who and Where You Are Right Now”  3-part blog series

Written By Cheryl Hollatz-Wisely

Part 2
[Read Part 1]


The client, a successful CPA for 15 years, had come into my office the week before. He was feeling like the fit of public accounting was no longer right for him—and he couldn’t figure out why. But as I reviewed his Strong Interest Inventory® (Strong) results I could see the data behind the possible quandary he was experiencing.

After confirming that the administrative indexes (page 10 of the report) were all typical and reliable, I eagerly turned to his results on the Occupational Scales (OSs) and then to the General Occupational Themes (GOT). I wanted to get a picture of how accountants typically look and then contrast that with my client’s results. Male accountants in the Strong occupational sample are coded CRE (see Strong Interest Inventory® User’s Guide, appendix B). CRE individuals are typically described as organized, efficient, thrifty, down to earth, practical, persuasive, and ambitious. As for work settings, they tend to be drawn to environments that are organized, structured, stable, and profit making (see Where Do I Go Next?, revised edition).When my client had walked into my office the week before in his suit and tie, he seemed like the perfect representation of an accountant. The fit seemed natural on the outside. So what had changed?

Here’s a summary of his scale results on the Strong:

  • GOTs. Theme code: S (Very High / standard score: 68); E (High / standard score: 60); C (High / standard score: 58)
  • BISs. Top 5 basic interests: Counseling/Helping (High / standard score: 59); Management (High / standard score: 59); Taxes/Accounting High / standard score: 58); Healthcare Services (Moderate / standard score: 55); Finance/Investing (Moderate / standard score: 54)
  • OSs. Top 10 Strong occupations (all >50): Nursing Home Administrator; School Administrator; Financial Analyst; Health Information Specialist; Management Analyst; Rehabilitation Counselor; Credit Manager; Financial Manager; Actuary; Facilities Manager (Accountant came in at #13 with a score of 42)
  • PSSs. Work Style: midrange (52); Learning Environment: left (44); Leadership Style: right (65); Risk Taking—midrange (49); Team Orientation: midrange (53)

On the May 7th webinar I reviewed what all the scales and scores mean, but for now I want to explain what had gotten me so excited.

Social Themed people are driven to help. They use words like meaning, purpose, and calling. That is how my client had described his dilemma to me the week prior. Bingo! I could see on paper his core motivation to work as an SEC individual—perhaps something along these lines: “I am motivated to help others using my leadership, supporting others using data and organization skills.” I was eager to see if that were true, and what the story was behind it all. The Strong gives evidence to indicate where a person is right now. As people change over time, the Strong picks that up and provides us practitioners with the data we need to ask questions and to delve into meaningful conversations with our clients. My central questions were developing for the interpretation session next week.

Curiosity #1: The client does not feel as though he is helping people enough in his work he is doing right now—for those like him who are motivated by helping others that would create a disconnect.

Chalk drawn alphabet characters collectionI am a geek who loves numbers. But more than that, I am a geek who loves numbers that can be used as a tool for self-discovery. It would have been interesting for me—had he taken the Strong 15 years ago—to see what his results were then. But I had the results for him right now, and I was eager to learn what his life was like now…to have personality Themes like his, leading who he is, at this point in time.

He was similar to other male accountants, but that job title wasn’t among his top 10 occupations. Instead, I was seeing patterns in his top 10 around Manager and Administrator. I was seeing categories emerging in fields related to working with numbers, but there were also groupings more in direct people-helping industries. And what about that health topic that kept popping up? Also, looking at his top 5 basic interests, I could see that they too supported these patterns. There was something about helping, health, numbers, and leadership that was emerging across his results.

Curiosity #2: The client is similar to men with mostly S and E Themes, and those Themes appear in his top basic interests as well. What is the connection for him around health and helping?

The great thing about the Strong is that it gives us the data to formulate the questions we will ask. Our work as practitioners is to interpret the results and ask the questions that create meaningful conversations. But the clients are the local experts on themselves, and without them an interpretation is incomplete. The Strong, a restricted assessment, is a deep and rich psychological instrument. I was seeing some patterns, and I couldn’t wait to see what my dissatisfied public accountant had to say about things.

Stay tuned for my next blog to see what happened in the interpretation session…



Grutter, J., & Hammer, A. (2005, 2012). Strong Interest Inventory® User’s Guide. Sunnyvale, CA: CPP, Inc. appendix B.

Borgen, F., & Grutter, J.  (2005, 2012). Where Do I Go Next? (rev. ed). Sunnyvale, CA: CPP, Inc.


Cheryl Hollatz-Wisely is lead trainer for GS Consultants, founded by Judith Grutter. GS Consultants has provided webinars for CPP on the Strong and MBTI® assessment for almost a decade.

On May 7th, Cheryl presented the CPP “Ask an Expert” webinar “Strategies & Overview of the Strong Interest Inventory® Assessment.” View now >>


The Strong Interest Inventory® assessment is one of the world’s most widely respected and frequently used career planning tools. It has helped both academic and business organizations develop the brightest talent and has guided thousands of individuals—from high school and college students to midcareer workers seeking a change—in their search for a rich and fulfilling career.

Watch this short and insightful video to get a glimpse of what the tool can do for you:



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