Blending Interest and Aptitude

Promoting Self-Understanding

Helping the career chooser develop a deeper understanding of him/herself is perhaps one of the most important objectives of career guidance. Promoting self-understanding is made up of 4 components:

  • Understanding interests
  • Understanding aptitudes
  • Discovering Potentials
  • Understanding career beliefs


  • Interests are:
  • activities that pull a person’s attention
  • things that a person is curious about
  • matters a person wants to pursue further
  • activities that a person considers worthwhile
  • activities a person enjoys

 Two vital points need to be noted about interests:

Interests can change.

Interest profiles are likely to go through great variations upto around the age of 16 to 18 years.  It is only when the person is closer to adulthood, that interests are likely to be more stable.  The strength of an interest is closely related to:

  • personal experiences with an activity
  • the belief that one can do well at an activity (self-efficacy)
  • attitudes and preconceived notions held by the individual and significant others in the person’s life (e.g. career beliefs) about an activity.
As the person moves through the stages of career development, personal experiences and external influences could strengthen existing interests or could cause a shift of interests to some other activity area.  This is normal and natural.  Sensitive and person-centered career counselling does not chain the young person to a group of interests that he/she was oriented to at a certain stage in life.  On the other hand effective careers education helps the young person explore his/her interests before making a commitment. 

High interest does not signify high ability

An interest in a particular activity indicates that the individual is drawn toward it and derives enjoyment from it.  It does not necessarily mean that he/she is good at that activity.  Success in a career is achieved in an environment of intense competition.  Merely being interested and motivated, however strong this motivation, does not guarantee that the individual could develop a sufficiently high level of skill to succeed in the face of competition.

Interests are like the steam in a locomotive.  They are factors of a person’s personality that motivate and drive him or her. Becoming aware of activities that one is attracted toward makes a significant contribution to enhancing self-understanding.   However self-understanding for making effective career choices needs to go further.