Campbell Interest and Skill Survey

My last few posts have been working up to what I consider to be the pièce de résistance of my vocational assessment. I felt like this final test gave the most interesting, as well as specific, results out of them all.

The Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS) was composed of 320 multiple choice questions. Each one asked one of two main things: how interested would I be in X job and how good I think I would perform in Y job. From what I can recall it never repeated the job types and each job was presented in a seemingly random order. There might have been some other question times thrown in, but I’m not positive.

The questions themselves aren’t interesting. It’s the results that matter.

The results were presented in seven separate categories:

Influencing – influencing others through leadership, politics, public speaking, sales, and marketing.

Organizing – organizing the work of others, managing, and monitoring financial performance

Helping – helping others through teaching, healing, and counseling

Creating – creating artistic, literary, or musical productions and designing products or environments

Analyzing – analyzing data, using mathematics, and carrying out scientific experiments

Producing – producing products, using “hands-on” skills in farming, construction, and mechanical crafts

Adventuring – adventuring, competing, and risk taking through athletic, police, and military activities

Each of these categories, and the jobs within them were given two scores: Interest and Skill. Interest indicates how appealing the activities are to me while skill indicates how good I think I’d be at the particular activity.

Each value fits along a bell curve with 50 being the average and the range being approximately 25 to 75. Above 60 is a very high score and below 40 is quite low.

If both interest and skill are scored above 55, it is recommended that I pursue activities within that area.

If interest is above 55 and skill is below, it is recommended I develop that area to improve my skill. If skill is above 55 and my interest is low, it is recommended I explore that area to further develop my interest.

If both scores are below 45 then it is recommended I avoid that area.



Of the 7 categories, 4 of them were rated Pursue, 1 Explore, and 2 were Avoid. Creating, Analyzing, Producing, and Adventuring were pursue while Helping was explore. Influencing and Organizing were avoid.

The picture below is a further breakdown of each category. The black diamond is my interest level and the white is my perceived skill level.

I’d also be horrible at politics.

Each subcategory of the seven categories is given their own scores as well. Several of these make obvious sense to me while others were surprising and exciting.

The fact that public speaking, math, science, athletics, adventure, and writing all score high makes sense. I do all of these things as much as I can and I do rather enjoy them. What I found interesting was how high things like advertising and marketing, medical practice, performing arts, and mechanical crafts scored for both skill and interest.

I think the most humorous one for me is the religious activities. I think I’d be very good at it, but I would hate doing it. Same for many of the areas in influencing and organizing. I have a high level of confidence in my ability, but a very low interest in general.

Each main category goes into even more detail. I’ll only cover the ones labeled Pursue and Explore.


Helping (Explore)

This one had seemingly disparate traits all lumped together. Basic interests and skills included adult development, counseling, child development, religious activities, and medical practice. I suppose it makes sense because each of these involves teaching and counseling, but having religious activities and medical practice lumped together seems odd. Indeed, for the specific jobs suggesting, it said I would be terrible as religious leader (except maybe as a Pastafarian. May you be touched by his noodly appendage.) There was a high level of perceived interest and skill as a nurse.

I found the nursing option to be very intriguing. Recently I was talking with a friend and she said her plans after grad school were to go to school to become a certified nurse practitioner (CNP). I got very excited about this because I’d been seriously thinking about doing something medically related in the future (future meaning 5 to 10 years down the road). CNP sounds awesome because it’s a two year program and you get to work with patients but not incur the huge debt an MD would. You don’t get as much responsibility, but it seems like a happy medium between MD and not working in the medical field. Just something I’ve been thinking about.


Creating (Pursue)

I was very excited to see this category pop up with the Pursue label. I’ve been exploring my more creative side for this entire year and it’s been awesome. Specifically I’ve been writing, but I’ve also dabbled in other ‘right brain’ activities. The primary interest and skills scales were performing arts, writing, and international activities. Looking back through my life, this also makes sense. The few times I’ve been in some sort of play or performance were some of the best times I’ve had. Writing is obvious. International activities is a bit of a surprise, but I’ve caught the travel bug pretty hard so it fits in well with that. I’ve traveled to Spain, France, China, and Mexico and have loved every minute of each place. Yeah, I can definitely do the international thing.

Some of the specific jobs make sense too: musician, writer/editor, librarian, and liberal arts professor (though I’m sure my family might scoff at that one!). I’m a little surprised actor wasn’t on the list, but I’m sure I’d have a great time doing that as well.


Analyzing (Pursue)

This one is obvious. I max out each category. Chemist, medical researcher, engineer, and math/science teacher are slammed to the right of the scale. Physician, computer programmer, statistician and systems analyst are lower, but still heavily on the right.

Clearly, science is a good match for me, but the evidence is suggesting it’s not the only, or even the best, match for me. I think part of the reason I scored so high was because I currently partake in the chemist/engineer/medical researcher/teacher field. I do those activities almost every day. I have a definite interest in learning to program and possibly being a physician. Science has to be a part of my life no matter what, but it has to be something I choose and pursue. Just falling into a ‘science-y’ job or activity won’t do.


Producing (Pursue)

This category primarily deals with ‘hands-on’ activities. This goes along with being an engineer. I do like to get into the nitty gritty of things and learn how they work. I’m good at taking the mass spectrometer in my lab apart and figuring out what’s going wrong. I had a great time taking the rotary pump apart as well. It also suggests I’d be good at wood-working, which is something I do want to explore in the future.

Other suggested jobs included carpenter, veterinarian, airline mechanic, and architect. I do think that these are interesting jobs, but I think each one misses the mark a bit. I’d rather work with people than animals. Carpentry is fun, but I wouldn’t want it as my job. I’d like to fly and work on my own plane, but not as a job. Architect is akin to being creative, but it’s not as interesting to me. So while these do make sense, they just don’t feel right in my gut.


Adventuring (Pursue)

This seems like a relatively broad category. The three basic skills and interests are athletics/fitness, military/law enforcement, and risks/adventuring. Basically, anything that doesn’t fit too well into the other categories and requires more physical movement. Anybody that knows me can see that I enjoy physical activity and am willing to try anything. I like staying active and healthy and being open to physical events and new adventures is a big part of that.

Some of the suggested jobs are interesting, but only one would be wicked awesome: Test pilot. These guys have balls of steel and get to strap themselves into some amazing machines. I did want to be a pilot in the military at some point, but combine degrading vision and disillusionment with the armed forces and that kind of goes out the window. Interestingly enough, ski instructor was rated highly. I could see myself doing that for a while, but the novelty would wear off quick. The lowest scoring jobs were police officer and military officer. I think I’d be good at them, but I believe I can achieve more than that.



The final page of the report, titled “Special Scales” had some very intriguing, and odd, results. There are two scales: academic and extraversion. The academic reflects my feelings towards the academic world. I scored a 70 for interest and a 71 for skill. The dots are literally as far over to the right as they can go.

Clearly this indicates that I have a high degree of interest in the academic world. It also suggests that an advanced degree would be rewarding to me. This isn’t an indication of potential success in the academic world, but rather that I’d be very comfortable there. Obviously, this makes a lot of sense. I’m good at being a grad student and I’ve gotten quite comfortable in my time here. And I am interested in what I do. It’s a good challenge and I’ve learned a lot. So no surprise here.

The extraversion scale measures my level of interest and confidence working with all types of people in many different work environments. High scores indicate an attraction to a wide range of people-oriented activities while a low score may suggest a narrower focus. It goes on to suggest that low-scoring individuals include scientists, skilled craftworkers, and veterinarians. High scorers are energized by frequent contact and enjoy working closely with others.

To me, these results are pulling in two directions. On one side we’ve got an extremely high score for academics. On the other, something with more a more people oriented focus. It even suggests that most scientists would get a low score on the extraversion scale. What are we to make of this?

For one, I think it suggests that I’m good and fully throwing myself into whatever it is I’m doing and finding/creating the interest and skill in it. This is true with my research and academia in general. When I came to grad school, I didn’t have a specific research interest in mind. But I knew that whatever I wound up doing I would do well at. I learned to enjoy my environment and make the most of it.

This is also suggesting, however, that I’d do well in a different kind of environment. I consider myself to be extroverted with some introverted tendencies (ENTJ/P remember?) and I do get a buzz meeting and socializing with people. I like change. I like challenges and adventures.

Within the context of someone who is a Renaissance Soul, this makes sense. Renaissance Soul is a sort of catch-all term for people who have too many interests to follow just one. Think Benjamin Franklin. That dude did a ton of different stuff. I’ve been coming to terms with the fact that I’m more like Mr. Franklin than I previously thought. (Note: Check out the book Renaissance Soul. It’s awesome).

Sure, I can get deeply invested in a topic and stick with it for multiple years. Grad school is a great example. But I also know that I’m interested in many other things too (drumming, writing, traveling, photography, programming, languages, history, art, etc.). I want to do them all.

I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t make sense for me to be so focused on one particular thing. I need the time to explore different passions and objectives in my life. The academic world doesn’t really support that. It’s an all or nothing field if you really want to succeed at it.

What I need, I’m realizing, is something that supports my need to explore multiple paths at once. I want to do work that is meaningful and productive, but also compensates me well enough to pursue my myriad interests in my, hopefully plentiful, spare time. I realize this is a tall order, but people have created this type of lifestyle before me and people will after I die. It’s just a matter of taking action to make it a reality.



I wanted to summarize the results of my entire vocational assessment in a brief paragraph. For me, this is a map to help me create a life that is meaningful and fulfilling. Forgive the awkwardness of writing in the third person.

Taylor, an ENTJ/P, is the type of person who has multiple interests in life. He can excel at a number of activities, but only certain ones will bring lasting fulfillment. It’s important that he creates an environment where he can explore different avenues while still making a decent living. He still has some mental hangups about creating a lifestyle of his own design, but it’s clear that he values time freedom, contributing to others, creating, and learning. Overall, he’s a very active and analytical person who is starting to really understand his need to create and produce his own ideas. Fulfillment for Taylor most likely means working hard on many separate projects of his choosing and creating a lasting legacy.


I’d love to hear your thoughts on this series of posts. Have these inspired you to learn more about yourself or explore another aspect of life you hadn’t before considered?


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2 Responses to Campbell Interest and Skill Survey

  1. Beth August 18, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    I am so glad you shared this, and not just your results but the whole scope of the test!
    320 questions— clearly this is an extensive measure of skill and interest! I think its so cool that you got to take this, and reflect on possible alternate careers. You’re such a dynamic person, I could see you exploring and excelling at many different things over the course of your lifetime.
    I was especially interested in the nursing and teaching route. While I’ve always thought you would be a good teacher, whether in academia or elsewhere, but this nursing route is new.
    Knowing you, I think it would be a really good fit for your personality. If it still appeals to you after you’ve been out of school for awhile, I’d say go for it. I could see a career like nursing—which pays well and is needed virtually everywhere *hint hint*—be very fulfilling for you. Putting your excellent knowledge of science and health into practice, and picking up a medical side of it, to help people….yeah, I could totally see that. It’s a very competitive field, but with your credentials that shouldn’t be a problem at all.
    Reading your results for these tests makes me so excited for you as you learn more about yourself. It can be kinda fun to put yourself under a microscope, huh? :)
    Also, as far as woodworking is concerned, I totally relate. I love hands-on learning and activities that allow you to create something. I picked up carpentry recently and have been making a dresser at my aunt’s house. Sawing the wood, sanding, staining and putting it together is like a fun puzzle. Even something as simple as smelling the wood and touching the shavings is fun. We really are Renaissance Souls!

    I think I’d score high with producing, adventuring, analyzing and creating. Adventuring would probably be on a far less extraverted level than yours, I’d wager, but still. Every career test I’ve taken has suggested I’d be really good as a park ranger too, haha! I love the outdoors and it requires you to be very organized and responsible, as well as exceptional at multi-tasking and being an authority figure.

    I have lots to say about your MBTI post too, but I wanted to put all this down first!

    Again, thanks so much for sharing. This has added a lot of value!

    • Taylor August 22, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

      Thanks for reading! The nursing route was a bit of a surprise to me too, but it is very interesting. Mainly because it’s a combination of a few fields.

      I’m definitely not going to hop into anything right away, but it’s great to know I have options. The book, Renaissance Soul, has really altered my perspective on what I want out of my work. For the better.

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