Testing the Testers

An in-depth look at five of the best-known Web-based career-assessment tools.

What fun is thinking about your career if you can’t take a test or two to evaluate your personality and interests? One of the many benefits of the explosion of career-oriented Web sites is that you no longer have to visit a career counselor or send away for a workbook to get an analysis. Just log on to take a test that can tell you everything you need to know about your career. Here’s an in-depth look at five of the best known Web-based career-assessment tools.

Site Score Fee & Time Pass Fail
According to SDS, people and work environments can be classified into six types : realistic, investigative, social, enterprising, and conventional. The test determines which three types describe you and suggest suitable occupations. $7.95; 20-30 minutes Your secrets are safe with SDS. You don’t have to enter your name to take the test or see the results. The site uses a Java applet to administer the test, which makes the interface a bit clunky
Birkman Method Career Style Summary
The Birkman test not only probes for hard skills but also evaluates your interests, your motivations, and how you respond to everyday pressures. You walk away with a color-coded guide to your interests and your style of behavior. Free; about 20 minutes The site also retrieves a list of jobs that might be right for someone who has your interests and style. You can only get part of the Birkman test on the Web. If you want a complete assessment, you’ll have to find a career counselor who administers it.
Keirsey Character Sorter
A first cousin of Myers-Briggs. It sorts people into four types or temperaments : idealists, rationals, artisans, and guardians. And just like Myers-Briggs, it provides a detailed evaluation of personality traits — as well as your overall category. Free; about 20 minutes Along with your results, you’ll get a list of famous people who fit into your category. Besides learning about famous folks who share your personality type, there isn’t much information about how your results relate to your career.
Riso-Hudson Enneagram Type Indicator
The RHETI looks at nine personality types : reformer, helper, motivator, artist, thinker, skeptic, generalist, leader, and peacemaker. The test determines your basic type. Free; ten minutes If you’re looking for a quick, straightforward snapshot of your personality, this is the test for you. Its killer app? Identifying your most basic fear and desire. Taking this test can be a test. Make sure you answer as many questions as possible, but don’t feel obligated to answer those that you don’t identify with. Also, be careful to answer what you’re really like, as opposed to how you hope to be.
Actually, it’s three tests in one. The first assesses your interest. The second looks at what’s important to you in a job
(money, autonomy, and so on). The third evaluates your abilities.
$95 for a 60-day subscription; each part takes at least 90 minutes. Great attention to detail. In fact, if you skip too many questions or inconsistently answer questions, you will get an invalid score If you want to find the jobs or careers that are best for you, you’ll have to buy “Discovering Your Career in Business” (Perseus Press, 1997), by the tests’ creators.