Interests - Aptitudes - Potentials

Interests, Aptitudes and Potentials are all important aspects of a person's personality along the journey of self-discovery.

What are interests?

Personal interests are:

  • activities that draw 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

Interests are like the steam in a locomotive. They are essentially factors of a person's personality that motivate and drive him or her.

Two vital points need to be noted about interests:

Interests can change:
A rule of thumb that a career chooser can keep in mind, is that interest profiles are likely to go through great variations upto around the age of 16 to 18 years. 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

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 or 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.

What are aptitudes?

Aptitudes are the second component of self-understanding. Aptitudes reflect:

  • a person's talents and capabilities
  • what one would be naturally good at
  • a person's abilities

If interests are the steam in a locomotive, aptitudes could represent the engine - the actual ability to move toward and be successful in the execution of a specific set of tasks.

Potentials: Interest and aptitude - it is the combination that matters

Interests and aptitudes are both essential aspects of self discovery. A limitation of some systems of career counselling is that focus is brought to bear on just one of these two facets of the individual's personality. Some systems are driven by analysis of interests, while others lay emphasis on aptitude tests. According to our model the analysis of interests and aptitudes for self-understanding is not an either-or question. The task before the young person is to discover interests as well as talents. Comprehensive career counselling therefore consists of methods whereby interests and aptitudes could be assessed and compared with each other.

As shown in the figure below, Jiva describes Potential as the combination of what one likes (interests) and what one is good at (aptitudes).

Careers require combinations: It is also important that at the heart of a career lie a group of skills or skill sets. In other words, most careers require combinations of aptitudes. A career in architecture for example would require spatial as well as logical skills. The aptitude profile of a successful jewellery designer is likely to be characterised by sensitivity to colour, shape and form, along with fine motor skills. A brilliant diagnostician who is rough and callous toward human feelings and emotions does not necessarily make a good medical practitioner.

A career comprises of a group of tasks. The potential to do well in as many of the tasks linked to a particular career as possible, contributes to success in that career.