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The Sherwood Career-Choices Questionnaire

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This questionnaire derives from the work of Holland. Studies of people and their occupations have led to the discovery of six job-related personality types. These can be used to help identify a learner's preferred career path and impact on the courses they choose to follow. Research shows the match between your job or course and your personality plays a major role in satisfaction and success.

Primarily it is used within FE, HE and by training providers or larger employers as part of their total skills programmes or recruitment drives. The Career Choices Inventory can be used can help to determine how a candidates preferences related to career choice and personality fit within their peer group. Whether this be other members of their chosen course or other employees working in similar job roles. It allows you to evaluate the fit between a profile you choose and the preferences of the particular candidate and is web-delivered.

Profiles are typically built by testing groups of existing candidates who are already on a training course or working within a similar job role. For example, profiles can be built for existing high-flyers, the average and those who are not performing well. The premise of being that people of similar personality types are likely to be drawn to similar work interests and environments.

The career choices inventory has been derived from the extensive work of John Holland, who investigated careers related to personality characteristics. A basic premise of this work is that people of similar personality types are likely to be drawn to similar work interests and environments. The better the ‘fit’ between the personality and work environment, the more the individual is likely to experience job satisfaction and to be productive and successful.

This questionnaire allows candidates to choose alternatives in categories related to their ratings of their abilities, interests, values, and the way in which they see themselves. The scores are then grouped according to the six basic personality types.

The end result leads to scores on the following six scales, which have been carefully refined through gathering data from thousands of people. The six types distinguish personality attributes related to career choice and satisfaction. The job-related personality types, and the work environments to which they are most suited are labelled as follows: REALISTIC, INVESTIGATIVE, ARTISTIC, CONVENTIONAL, ENTERPRISING, SOCIAL.

The higher the score on an individual category, the more the individual is similar to that type. The respondent’s two top scores are then combined in rank order to enable the interpretation of preferred work choices and atterns. These may then be compared to the dominant choices of successful consultants in different roles.

The six types may be represented as follows:
Hexagon shaped diagram showing the six Hollands personaility types

This hexagon indicates the way in which the individual’s scores may be related to each other. If one of the points on the hexagon is selected, there is the closest correlation between that point and the two contiguous points. So, for example, a person scoring highest on Conventional is more likely to have a secondary score in Realistic or Enterprising. In the same way, a highest score in Artistic is more likely to be linked to a secondary score in Social or Investigative, and so on. Points opposite to each other on the hexagon have the lowest correlations. This leads to the note in each scale description below about most likely links between the scores. It is important to bear in mind that less likely combinations of scores are commonly found, and this does not necessarily signal career indecisiveness. However, finding an occupational match can be more challenging for such individuals and they may need to look outside of work to satisfy some aspects of their personalities.

Although the limitations of all self-report inventories apply to this questionnaire, its advantage is that it is difficult for candidates to ‘skew’ their responses in any particular way since they will not be able to anticipate which personality types are successful in different work roles.


Sub-Scale Definitions






Occupations involve concrete and practical activities, utilising machines, tools and other materials. People scoring highest in this type see themselves as practical, mechanical and down to earth. They often have skills in working with tools, plans, machines, plants and animals. Farming, construction and industry are settings in which these people predominate. Hobbies include outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing. The two types closest to the Realistic type are Conventional and Investigative.






Occupations concerned with analysis and reasoning, requiring problem solving, trouble shooting, creation of and use of knowledge. People scoring highest in this type see themselves as precise, scientific and intellectual. They are more likely to be found in laboratory and research settings. Hobbies may include web-surfing, science-based activities and reading. The two types closest to the Investigative type are Realistic and Artistic.






Occupations involve creativity and self expression. People scoring highest in this type see themselves as expressive, independent and original. Activities may be relatively unstructured and unconventional. Settings are more likely to be studios, galleries and small-scale endeavours. Hobbies include music, writing, drama, sculpture and painting. The two types closest to the Artistic type are Investigative and Social.






Occupations involve helping others, and teaching and counselling of various types. People scoring highest in this type see themselves as friendly, helpful and trustworthy. Work is found to be rewarding if one-to-one relationships with others are established and sustained. People in this type are more likely to be found in hospitals, schools and social services. Hobbies include socialising, volunteering, and community-based activities. The two types closest to the Social type are Artistic and Enterprising.






Occupations involve supervising or persuading others towards a goal. People scoring highest in this type see themselves as ambitious, innovative and energetic. They are likely to enjoy selling things or ideas. They may have leadership and public speaking abilities and tend to be self motivated. Settings include legal, business and commercial enterprises. Hobbies include constant networking and exploring new ventures. The two types closest to the Enterprising type are Social and Conventional.






This is the group that contains the highest number of people. Occupations involve organising things, data or people. People scoring highest in this type see themselves as orderly and good at following plans. Everyday tasks that contribute to the smooth running of and regular needs of organisations predominate, and adherence to specific rules and standards. Successful people in this category are efficient, practical and dependable, and are likely to be found in finance, business, and civil service settings. Hobbies include crafts and volunteer work related to administration, finance and data management. The two types closest to the Conventional type are Enterprising and Realistic.






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