Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS)

Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS)The Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS), developed by David P. Campbell, measures self-reported interests and skills. Used primarily in career exploration, it was designed for individuals who plan to pursue careers requiring a college education. It is helpful for adults considering career changes, trying to understand job dissatisfaction, or thinking about retirement. Written for individuals with a sixth-grade reading level or above, the CISS can be given to adults and adolescents age 15 years and older. It is appropriate for use in high schools, colleges/universities, human resource departments, and outplacement firms.

The CISS reports interest and skill standard scores on 7 Orientation scales (Influencing, Organizing, Helping, Creating, Analyzing, Producing, Adventuring); 29 Basic Interest and Skill scales (e.g., Leadership, Supervision, Counseling, Art/Design, Science, Animal Care, Athletics/Physical Fitness); 60 Occupational scales (e.g., Attorney, Accountant, Teacher K-12, Fashion Designer, Physician, Architect, Police Officer); and 3 Special scales (Academic Focus, Extraversion, Variety). Three procedural checks (Response Percent Check, Inconsistency Check, Omitted Items Check) detect problems with answer sheet completion or scoring.

The seven orientations are similar to John Holland’s six RIASEC types (Realistic, Investigative, Artistic, Social, Enterprising, and Conventional), although there are some differences: Influencing measures leadership, while Enterprising focuses on sales; Organizing relates to management and financial services, while Conventional deals with clerical and office work; and the two CISS scales of Producing (mechanical, construction, and farming activities) and Adventuring (military, police, and athletic activities) are represented by Holland’s Realistic scale. The CISS orientations provide the organization for the Basic Interest and Skill scales and the Occupational scales.

Published in 1992, the CISS has one form, available in two languages, English and Spanish, and two formats, pencil-and-paper and online administration. Most people complete the CISS in 30 to 45 minutes. It is scored by machine with several options: MICROTEST Q Assessment System software for local scoring, optical scan scoring, mail-in scoring service, and the Internet.

The CISS items and response choices are integrated into one booklet. The 320 items are current, and each occupational title includes a brief description. Respondents indicate their attraction toward or liking of 200 academic and occupational items, alphabetically arranged in three sections: 85 occupations (e.g., architect, designing new homes and buildings; nurse, caring for patients in a hospital); 43 school subjects (e.g., music, algebra, psychology); 72 activities (e.g., manage the work of others, operate scientific equipment, plan an advertising campaign); and the respondent’s self-evaluated skills in 120 occupational activities (e.g., developing computer programs, writing a newspaper story, selling a product or concept).

Each item has a six-choice response format, ranging from very positive to very negative, with no neutral or middle alternative. Responses for interest items are strongly like to strongly dislike. Choices for skill items are expert to none and measure self-efficacy or confidence to perform the activities, not actual ability.

In a comprehensive, 11-page individual profile, CISS standard scores are presented numerically and graphically on unisex or combined-gender scales. For each Interest scale, there is a corresponding Skill scale. An individual’s responses are compared with the responses of employed people who enjoy their work. Narrative descriptions provide interpretations. Four defined patterns of interest and skill scores are reported: Pursue: seriously consider, high interest, high confidence; Develop: seek training, high interest; low confidence; Explore: apply abilities in another field, low interest, high confidence; Avoid: not consider, no interest, no confidence. Patterns in which interests and skills fall in a mid-range are not labeled.

The Interest/Skill Planning Worksheet and the CISS Career Planner assist respondents to organize results, consider themes, and examine career directions. The CISS manual includes development procedures; technical information (norms, reliability, validity); interpretation guides with case studies; and transparency masters for group interpretations.

The Orientation scales and the Basic scales were normed on a general reference sample of 5,225 employed people (3,435 men and 1,790 women), including 248 ethnic minorities, in 65 occupations. The 60 Occupational scales were normed on men and women employed in each occupation. Sample sizes ranged from 35 to 199, with a median of 76. The Orientation scales and the Basic Interest and Skill scales are homogeneous. Each scale consists of similar items that are highly related.

The Occupational scales have heterogeneous item content, as they were developed by contrasting the responses of occupational samples with those of the general reference group. The Occupational scales allow respondents to compare their interests and skills with those of people employed in different fields.

Using modern technology, development of the CISS was based on knowledge and experience gained from statistically designed career assessments, originating with E. K. Strong Jr. in 1927. The CISS is psychometrically sound; it was well constructed and technically tested. Using a standard score of 50 to represent the mean of the general reference sample on all sets of scales makes results easy to interpret. The scales function as they were intended. People in different occupations report different patterns of interests and skills.

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  1. Boggs, K. R. 1998. “Career Decisions: The Campbell and Ms. Flood.” Career Development Quarterly 46:311-319.
  2. Boggs, K. R. 2001. “Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS).” Pp.194-201 in A Counselor’s Guide to Career Assessment Instruments, 4th ed., edited by J. T. Kapes and E. A. Whitfield. Alexandra, VA: National Career Development Association.
  3. Campbell, D. P. 2002. “The History and Development of the CISS.” Journal of Career Assessment 10:150-168.
  4. Campbell, D. P., Hyne, S. A. and Nilsen, D. L. 1992. Manual for the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey. Minneapolis, MN: National Computer Systems.
  5. Hansen, J-I. C. and Neuman, J. L. 1999. “Evidence of Concurrent Prediction of the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey (CISS) for College Major Selection.” Journal of Career Assessment 7:239-247.
  6. Sullivan, B. A. and Hansen, J-I. C. 2004. “Evidence of Construct Validity of the Interest Scales on the Campbell Interest and Skill Survey.” Journal of Vocational Behavior 65:179-202.