How to Use Personality Assessments for College Major – Career Coaching

By the mid-point of 10th grade, it’s time for college-bound high school students to begin considering what comes after graduation. By the beginning of the senior year, college applicants will be faced with what can feel like a daunting question: To which college major are you applying? It’s an important question that has future implications as I explained in a previous post.

It’s the rare student who knew from elementary school that she wanted to be a teacher and still wants to be one, or any career for that matter. So how does a teenager go about getting clarity? Personality assessments come in all sizes and many can be useful to varying extents in helping figure out what comes next for high school students who are embarking on college counseling.

Know Yourself

In working with teens and young adults, I start with knowing oneself….deeply. This includes hardwired personality measured by assessments and motivational factors from interest inventories but also includes grades, test scores, and values. Personality assessments and interest inventories inform of scientifically reliable data associated with behavior and perceptions. In working with my clients, we create a lens (the individual wiring) that is used to evaluate careers for alignment.

Assessments should only be one piece of a full career coaching plan. Arriving at the conclusion of what comes next and the first step into a career is a process not determined by a list of jobs an assessment spits out. Many assessments do produce a list of careers that “fit”. But in my experience with thousands of students, relying on such lists without deep-dive research and evaluation is a mistake. Sadly, this is where many career assessments (and students) stop short.

The results should be only part of the process and a stepping-off point.

Know Careers

After a “lens of self” is created, I direct my clients to research careers starting with a deep dive on one career that was generated from the assessment. If things seem to align, next curate experiences to in a sense try careers on for size. My students then can go on to essentially “wash, rinse, repeat” with this methodology to determine what they want to pursue in college for a major aimed at the first step into a career and launching into a flourishing adulthood.


  • Don’t solely rely on the list of jobs produced – do the research
  • Not all assessments are created equal – check reliability and validity on the instrument you choose
  • Don’t underestimate the power of this process – doing so leaves the future to chance
  • A coach and proven process will get results, not an assessment alone

Which Assessments

There are many. When I first sought a scientifically reliable tool to use with coaching the high school students I work with in designing their futures, I took them all….Myers-Briggs (MBTI), DISC, Holland Codes, Strong Interest Inventory, Indigo, and more. I wasn’t satisfied and after spending a decent amount of time and money I was certainly was frustrated that I wasn’t finding what I felt would meet the needs of the families I serve.

Someone suggest The Birkman Method to me, so I decided one more try and BINGO! This one tool contained not only a personality assessment but also a work interest inventory as well as a list of jobs that fit and should be explored. It also nailed my personality – the good and the stuff I wish wasn’t hardwired into me.

Every assessment measures behaviors, but The Birkman Method in which I am master certified in also measures:

  • Motivation: passion and interest for different roles and initiatives in the workplace
  • Expectations: what we desire from others and our environment

The measurements beyond personal strengths are what sets The Birkman Method apart from other tools and why I chose it for my coaching.  The assessment I use in my coaching, The Birkman, produces such a list.


While assessments are useful and important, they are one piece of the puzzle of making informed decisions about the future.