Personality Types according to John Holland`s Theory

Categories: PersonalityWho Am I

Knowing about yourself is important to personal and professional development. By using assessments individuals can learn about various aspects of themselves. Assessments are useful in the career counseling setting as they help to identify interests and skills to make decisions about educational and job choices. John Holland’s theory of types links different personality types to specific job titles based on his idea that career interests are an expression of a person’s personality (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017).

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  The following examines my interest profiler results based on Holland’s theory of types and my primary personal and work values as revealed in the Value Sort.

Career Instrument Results

The results of the O*NET Interest Profiler indicated my highest score of 30 to be in the social category. My next highest score of 17 fell into the investigative category. I scored zero in both categories of realistic and artistic. I also had very low scores of 4 in the categories of enterprising and conventional.

My top personality type according to Holland’s theory is social.

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Holland describes this type as preferring to engage in activities that inform, train, develop, cure, or enlighten others. Individuals of the social type do not like activities that involve working with materials, tools, or machines (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017). Social individuals are described as being “convincing, idealistic, social, cooperative, kind, sympathetic, friendly, patient, tactful, generous, responsible, understanding, helpful, and warm” (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017, p. 55).  They lack mechanical and scientific abilities yet are competent in interpersonal and educational skills. Persons of this personality type are often in careers such as teacher, counselor, caseworker, or religious worker (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017).

My second personality type is investigative. Holland describes this type those who prefer activities that involve exploring different types of phenomena in order to understand and control physical, biological, and cultural phenomena. Individuals who fall into this type do not like persuasive, social, and repetitive activities. Investigative individuals are competent in science and math yet lack leadership abilities (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017). Hollard describes investigative individuals as possessing characteristics such as “analytical, independent, modest cautious, intellectual, pessimistic, complex, introverted, precise, critical, methodical, rational, curious, and reserved” (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017, p.55). They often find themselves in jobs in the area of science such as a chemist, geologist, physicist, or medical technologist (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017).

My third type is a tie between enterprising and conventional. Holland describes individuals of the enterprising type to prefer activities that involve organizational or economic gain. They do not like activities that are observational, symbolic, or systematic and are competent in leadership, interpersonal, and persuasive skills rather than scientific abilities (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017). Enterprising types are described as “acquisitive, domineering, optimistic, adventurous, energetic, pleasure-seeking, agreeable, extroverted, attention-getting, ambitious, impulsive, self-confident, sociable, and popular” (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017, p. 55). Individuals of the enterprising type often hold jobs such as salesperson, manager, or business executive (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017).

Holland describes individuals of the conventional personality type to be those who prefer activities that involve order and manipulation of data such as record keeping or organizing data. Conventional types dislike free or exploratory activities. They are competent in clerical and computer skills yet lack artistic skills (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017). Conventional types are described as being “conforming, inhibited, persistent, conscientious, obedient, practical, careful, orderly, thrifty, efficient, and unimaginative” (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017, p. 55). Individuals of the conventional type often find themselves in jobs such as bookkeeper, banker, or insurance claims adjuster (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017).

The next instrument completed was the Value Sort. I selected ten values including close relationships, cooperation, integrity, knowledge, meaningful work, privacy, security, self-respect, wealth, and personal development. I crossed off five values so that my top five included integrity, meaningful work, security, self-respect, and personal development. In the end my top two values ended up being integrity and self-respect.

To me, integrity encompasses several other values such as being trustworthy, honest, morally correct, and respectful to name a few. I strongly value doing what is right in any situation, making the correct moral decision, and being honest. This is something I consider to be important in a professional setting as people put trust in others to provide a service for them, especially in the counseling setting where vulnerability is high and ethical standards are top priority. Integrity influences my personal and professional decisions because what is right and wrong and treating others how I want to be treated has been instilled in me from a young age. For example, I see ethical standards in counseling as being based on doing what is best for the client and acting in a manner that is morally correct. To do so, integrity is required because without it there is potential risk to harming the client. Acting without integrity poses potential consequences that affect others.

My second value I identified is self-respect. To me, self-respect means to act in a way with honor and dignity, to have an honest relationship with myself, and respect my values and standards when making choices. It is important to me because if I make choices that go against my own dignity then I am compromising myself and my values. If I compromise my own values and myself then I see potential risks to other areas of my life such as personal relationships and my career goals. I do see self-respect and integrity relating to one another, but I see self-respect as having more of a personal influence in my life. If I make a decision that compromises my dignity, I know it will lead to creating negative feelings of guilt and regret which have the potential of impacting how I respond to situations that arise in other areas of my life.

Personal Reactions

When completing the O*NET Interest Profiler, the instructions were to not think about how much training, education, or experience would be needed to do each job or activity and simply focus on whether or not I would like doing the job. This was helpful in making a choice as it narrowed my focus. It felt easier to only focus on whether or not I would like doing the job or task as I have a tendency to overthink situations. At first, I had an expectation that it would be difficult to making decisions, but once I only focused on whether or not I would like doing the task, completing the interest profiler was simple.

The Value Sort was more difficult because it was hard to focus on a select number of values. In order to complete the assessment, I started by selecting every value on the list that is important to me. From there I eliminated values that sounded similar and narrowed the list to start at the ten values. This was helpful to me to be able to narrow the long list of values to a select few that were most important. I was uncomfortable through the process of eliminating values because I saw each value as being important and having a specific role on the choices I make in my life every day. In the end it came down to deciding on the one value that I was absolutely not willing to give up, which is integrity. If I am acting with integrity then I feel as if everything else will fall into place. In the beginning it seemed as if I made completing the Value Sort assessment more difficult than it needed to be; however, being able to narrow my focus down to what value I was absolutely not willing to give up was helpful. Overall, I believe both instruments are simple, easy to understand how to complete, and efficient in identifying values and specific personality types that influence career decisions.

The results I received from the Interest Profiler and the Value Sort do fit my self-perception. The social personality type describes me as I do prefer activities or a job that would help others, train, or develop something. I believe I have strong interpersonal and educational skills and while I like science it is not a strong area of ability for me. I present myself as being friendly, patient, helping, responsible, kind and warm which are characteristics of the social type. I also believe the investigative type is a fit for me. I have a strong desire to understand things, be knowledgeable about ideas and topics, and less of an interest in the same, repetitive activities. I am a very cautious person when it comes to making decisions. I want to have as much information needed to make a conscious, safe choice. I am very independent and prefer to problem solve on my own before asking for help.

I recognized some contradictions when looking at the descriptions of each type. Investigators are described as being introverted and reserved (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017). While this is true for me, I find this contradicting as my top personality type is identified as social. I acknowledge that I am a reserved, quiet, and introverted person because it is comfortable for me; however, being social pushes me outside of my comfort zone. When I do that, I feel more confident and accomplished. Another aspect that I disagreed with is investigators lacking leadership abilities and being competent in math and science (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017). Math and science are not areas that I feel competent in and I do see myself as having strong leadership abilities based on roles I have had in previous employments.

External Influences

When completing the Interest Profiler, I did not think about factors such as my race, gender, or age when choosing my answers. I do not have any disabilities or any limitations that would influence whether I would like doing a certain task. I did consider my interests, abilities, and previous experience. I considered my interests when making choices so I noticed I was more likely to enjoy the tasks if they involved helping someone or developing solutions. I was less likely to enjoy a job or task if it involved being artistic because I do not have any artistic abilities. I get bored easily with painting or writing stories because I do not feel as if I have the abilities to write or paint something that I see as good therefore I lose interest and I do not enjoy it. If there was a task or job that came up in the assessment and it was something I had previously done I considered how much I enjoyed doing that job in the past and answered accordingly. When it came to questions regarding sales or working in retail, I was more likely to answer that I would not like doing that task since I have previously done it and did not like it.

Another factor that I believe influenced my results is current life goals. I am working towards a career in counseling and helping others so any jobs related to that area I was more likely to answer that I would like doing those tasks. This would explain why my results were high in the social type.

A final aspect I see as an influence on my results was the assessment appeared to be something I had completed before. I knew the purpose of the assessment because of prior experience so I was quick to answer questions as a strong dislike or strong like rather than picking a choice in between. This would account for scoring zero in the area of artistic and realistic as I made more quick decisions when it came to tasks related to those areas.

When completing the Value Sort, I made decisions based on my emotions. I took my time to think through my decisions when it came to elimination rather than rushing myself. I believe the fact that I allowed my emotions to direct my decisions led me to be more cautious and uncomfortable with eliminating values from the list as directed.


One of the assumptions John Holland’s theory of types is based on is people will seek environments that allow them to express different things about themselves such as abilities, attitudes, and their values. Holland identified these environments as the six different types: realistic, artistic, conventional, social, investigative, and enterprising. Holland explains experiences lead to preferences and specific interests. As these interests grow individuals gain competencies in through self-satisfaction and reward. Values arise as people process through which interests they prefer over others. Personalities develop as a result of these interests, competencies and values (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017). The assessment results from the interest profiler and the value sort are connected as personalities types reflect certain interests and values people hold.

Holland continues to discuss the importance of congruence between a person’s personality type and their work environment. A person is congruent when their personality type and work environment match (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017). Considering my recent employment and current career direction and goals, my personality type and work environment are congruent. Individuals of the social type most often work in positions such as teacher, counselor, clinical psychologist, or caseworker (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017). For the past several years I have worked in various positions closely related to counseling and case management of at-risk teens and their families. My most recent position was a family specialist which involved facilitating individual and family therapy sessions and training and developing staff. My current career goals are directed towards further developing a career in counseling by obtaining a license in professional counseling. I also feel as if my values of integrity and self-respect align with this personality type and work environment as both are needed in such a professional career.

While not congruent, some aspects of the investigative personality type appear in my previous employment and current career direction. I believe that aspects of counseling require observational and other skills of the investigative nature. In my previous position as a family specialist, I observed behaviors, learned how to apply basic counseling skills to facilitate conversation, researched and learned how trauma impacts development and family dynamics, and learned how to apply the knowledge about trauma to promote growth and healing.

The enterprising and conventional types that resulted in a tie for my third personality type are not a fit for me or the work environment I am pursuing. I do have some interest in owning and running my own business such as a private practice; however, it is not a career goal of mine or my main motivation. Also, tasks such as keeping records, organizing data, and operating computers is something I do not mind doing, it is also not my main focus in my career direction.

My early work experiences fell into the enterprising and conventional personality types as I began gaining work experience in sales and as office staff at a community college. Holland states that people are often more satisfied and also perform better at their job duties when they are working in an environment that matches their personality type (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2017). While I did not mind doing the work at the time, I was not satisfied staying in a career that involved that type of work. I noticed not much effort went into advancing skills in those areas since I had no desire to continue to work in either environment. The social personality type is a true reflection of my recent work environment and future career goals. I have a strong desire to develop my skills and advance in the counseling profession. I have also found satisfaction working in an environment where I am able to help others, serve a purpose in meaningful work, and continue gain knowledge about how I can promote growth and healing.


  • Niles, S. G., & Harris-Bowlsbey, J. (2017). Career development interventions (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson. ISBN: 9780134286303.

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Personality Types according to John Holland`s Theory. (2021, Aug 18). Retrieved from

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