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Qualitative assessment approaches have “become increasingly popular” as the constructivist philosophy basis provides a contextual framework to be implemented into career counseling practice (Sampson, 2009, p.91). These qualitative approaches have also gained additional support due to the complementary nature alongside previously widely accepted quantitative assessment techniques (Whiston & Rahardija, 2005). Previously quantitative techniques were “unable to accommodate the changing nature of careers in the postmodern era” leading to the implementation of postmodern approaches involving life stories and personal narratives (Maree & Morgan, 2012, p. 312).  For example, a career counselor can use qualitative assessment techniques that complement quantitative techniques such as the narrative approach that seeks to involve the client in their subjective career experience over an extended period of time. The information that the client provides in their narrative story may indicate certain traits and characteristics which could help them choose a career. If a career counselor were to integrate both modern and postmodern approaches to career counseling, they should make sure the client has an accurate understanding of their current abilities, skills, and future opportunities. Once a vocational foundation has been created, the career counselor can allow the client to discuss their own construction of their reality and their perception of themselves along with their career journey (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2012). This approach should be noted as a valuable advantage, as no individual remains stable or consistent over time with their work interests, educational goals or job skills. Another advantage of using a qualitative narrative technique is the client gets the opportunity to take responsibility for their behaviors and decisions in life while understanding how they can grow from future career choices and experiences (Niles & Harris-Bowlsbey, 2012). When determining which qualitative narrative assessments could be the most useful in the career-development process, I would recommend the Career Systems Interview (CSI) as discussed by McMahon, Watson & Patton (2015). Although I do not have much familiarity with this particular interview process, I use a similar framework for my pre-assessment vocational interviews.  My approach is similar to the CSI and narrative approach in the respect of identifying barriers to employment in the beginning on the session, as they can have a great influence of what career path or choices an individual should be making. These qualitative narrative techniques are also beneficial when working with diverse populations, as they have been noted to “embrace multicultural perspectives” and are sensitive to the “immediate and distal contextual factors influencing the meaning-making process (Niles & Harris-Bowsbey, 2012, p. 112).


Maree, J. G., & Morgan, B. (2012). Toward a combined qualitative-quantitative approach: Advancing postmodern career counselling theory and practice. Cypriot Journal Of Educational Sciences, 7(4), 311-325.

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McMahon, M., Watson, M., & Patton, W. (2015). The Systems Theory Framework of career development: Applications to career counselling and career assessment. Australian Journal of Career Development 2015, 24(3) 148–156. 

Niles, S. G. & Harris-Bowlsbey, J. (2012). Career development interventions in the 21st century. (4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

Sampson, J. P., Jr. (2009). Modern and postmodern career theories: The unnecessary divorce. The Career Development Quarterly, 58(1), 91-96.

Whiston, S. C., & Rahardja, D. (2005). Qualitative Career Assessment: An Overview and Analysis. Journal Of Career Assessment, 13(4), 371-380. doi:10.1177/1069072705277910

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Qualitative and quantitative assessments are useful in practice.  Both assessments can be used in career development for career counseling and for employers who are seeking strong candidates to fill positions in their organization.  Maree and Morgan (2012) spoke about the importance of using both qualitative and quantitative assessments in career counseling because of how rapidly the economy has changed (pg. 312).  In career counseling, qualitative assessments are assessments that speak to an individual’s qualities as an employee.  For example, a qualitative assessment is going to determine an individual’s work ethic and their life.  Qualitative assessments can include open-ended questions and essays.  Qualitative assessments compliments quantitative assessments because you get a full picture of an individual.  An individual is of course made up of many components.  By only using a quantitative assessment, you are not getting the full picture of the individual. 

The career systems interview (CSI) as described by McIlveen (2015) is, “the CSI questions progress from the outside of the STF to the inside; that is, from the environmental-social influences, through to the social influences, and then to the interpersonal and intrapersonal influences” (pg. 124).  I believe the CSI is a useful tool in career counseling because much like using qualitative and quantitative assessments, it incorporates multiple aspects of an individual.  According to McIlveen, the CSI can also be changed based on the interview.  This is useful because no two interviews are the same.  Having the flexibility to change the CSI based on the interview allows for versatility within.  McMahon, Watson, and Patton (2015) also called the CSI “a relaxed conversation” (pg. 153).  This is important in an interview in my opinion, to get the full picture of an individual as opposed to asking strict questions.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to using qualitative, narrative techniques.  Advantages are you get a better understanding of the personality of the individual you are considering employing.  You have the opportunity to assess how they will join with the other employees at the agency.  A disadvantage to utilizing qualitative, narrative assessments is that you may see qualities in a person that they are trying to correct.  For example, in previous employment an individual was always late, no matter how hard they tried, this was clear when using a qualitative assessment, that the person struggled with time management.  Furthermore, with a new job the person may be working towards new goals, including time management skills.  

Qualitative, narrative assessments can be used in diverse populations but counselors may find it challenging with some clients.  For example, Niles and Harris-Bowlsbey (2017) mention how much a client can learn about themselves through assessments (ch. 5).  Some cultures demand that you cannot feel certain emotions as a man, or as a woman.  Furthermore, while we believe we are trying to prepare a client, we may be hindering their desire to want to receive career counseling services.  I believe culture is an important factor to consider no matter what assessment a counselor is considering using.  Niles and Niles and Harris-Bowlsbey (2017) also mention how quickly the job market is changing and the multitude of new skills that are required simply to enter the job field so I think it is important to know these things about clients and their abilities to adapt to the rapidly changing environment (ch. 5).


McMahon, M., Watson, M., Patton, W. (2015) The systems theory framework of career development: Applications to career counselling and career assessment. Australian Council of Career Development, 24(3), 148-156.

Mcilveen P. (2015) My career chapter and the career systems interview. In: McMahon M., Watson M. (eds) Career Assessment. Career Development Series (Connecting Theory and Practice). SensePublishers, Rotterdam.

Niles, S. G., & Harris-Bowlsbey, J. E. (2017). Career development interventions (5th ed.). London, England: Pearson. eText ISBN: 0134055829
Chapter 2: Understanding and Applying Theories of Career Development

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