Intake Interview and Occupational Knowledge

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Almost every person, in the process of growing up, has acquired some information about many different occupations. Often that information is sketchy, superficial, and perhaps inaccurate; sometimes it is thorough and comprehensive; almost always it has provided the basis for a stereotyped view of an array of jobs.

The individual's information has accumulated from previous experiences involving differing degrees of contact, as well as many other variable factors such as awareness of occupational activity, typicality of the situation, and precision of observation. Some perceptions are the result of direct experience with the occupation, many more are the product of observation, and most are derived from indirect sources such as print media or comments of parents, peers, and others. Obviously, the most trustworthy of these sources, as far as accuracy is concerned, is the direct experience of the individual. This also is likely to be the most restricted source because the typical client often seeks career counseling because of a limited exposure to occupational possibilities. Thus, most of what the usual client knows about occupations comes from observation, often shallow and brief, what lawyers would describe as hearsay.

Even though the quality and quantity of knowledge possessed about many occupations may be suspect, many clients will still have formed opinions and attitudes based on whatever information they have. That framework can be used to help the client develop a broader perspective of ultimate possibilities. Of greatest help are those occupations toward which the client is favorably inclined, although negative comments about jobs also provide insight.



Many counselors ask questions during an intake interview about occupations the client may have considered as possibilities. Such questions may be couched in a fantasy-like approach: "If you could do anything you wanted to, what would you choose?" Sometimes the question is asked in a realistic vein: "If you had to go to work tomorrow, what would you do?" At other times, a self-evaluation query is used: "Tell me what occupations you've considered and why you picked them." Although such questions are occasionally unproductive, most of the time several occupations will be named, and sometimes this area of knowledge provides the logical starting point for expanding horizons. We will consider three techniques for translating named occupations into GOE and DOT codes in addition to the possibility of taking those identified occupations directly to both volumes. We will discuss classification systems, card sorts, and D-P-T codes.

Classification systems: Several classification systems permit generalizing from a specific occupation because of the way in which occupations are grouped within the system. Since our immediate purpose is to help the client consider a broad range of possibilities, these are particularly useful.

Simple classification systems, such as the Career Education cluster system proposed by the U.S. Office of Education (1971), use very broad categories that often approximate the GOE areas. For example, the health, personal service, fine arts, and manufacturing occupations in the cluster system translate easily to the science, accommodating, artistic, and industrial areas of the GOE where additional comparable titles can be found.

Two-dimensional classification systems, such as Roe's Primary Focus system or the World of Work map, also expedite access to the GOE. Occupations named by a client can be plotted readily on Roe's chart, where the horizontal axis, or primary focus, provides the general grouping and the vertical axis suggests the general educational level and degree of responsibility involved in the occupation. Roe's primary focus labels translate easily into GOE areas. The World of Work map is comparably based on six job clusters that encompass twenty-five job families. The proper job family for a named occupation is easily identifiable, and this leads to the names of other jobs within the job family as well as those in other families within the same job cluster. All of these translate easily to the GOE for additional possibilities.

Card sort systems The idea of assisting individuals to make career choices by sorting cards bearing the names of occupations has been around for a long time. Tyler (1961) was one of the first to suggest and use this method. Dewey (1974) developed a card sort system of nonsexist titles that was found to be helpful in assisting college women. Cooper (1976) added a structured workbook to Dewey's card system. Many inventories, for example the Vocational Preference Inventory and the Strong-Campbell Interest Inventory, include lists of occupational titles that are treated in essentially the same way as a card sort system.

Two card sort systems will be described as examples of several similar devices.

The Vocational Exploration and Insight Kit (Holland, 1980) includes a card sort system and a workbook that are used in conjunction with the Self-Directed Search. The card sort includes eighty-four cards, each bearing the name of an occupation representative of Holland's six types, that the client sorts into three groups-"Might choose," "In question," and "Would not choose." After sorting the eighty-four cards, clients are asked to search for common themes or relationships within each of the broad sortings that influenced their decision to consider or reject the various occupations. After identifying influential factors and eliciting other possibilities not included in the deck of eighty-four options, clients are asked to compare factors that lead to acceptance or rejection and to identify ways in which those "Might choose" occupations relate to their talents, needs, and hopes. Clients assign three-letter Holland codes to the "Might choose" occupations, then complete the Self-Directed Search and compare the results with those obtained with the card sort. Clients are finally led through further steps of self-evaluation.

The card sort portion of the Vocational Exploration and Insight Kit provides a means of identifying occupations that hold potential interest for the client. Those occupations in the "Might choose" stack can be used immediately or, more usefully, after the client has sorted these according to common themes, to identify GOE areas for further exploration.

Another example of a card sort system is called Occu-sort and was developed by Jones (1977). Occu-sort consists of three different sets of cards, permitting the selection of a set that appropriately matches the client's educational ambitions. The three sets are entitled "plus 3," "plus 4," and "plus 5." Each set of cards includes the names of sixty occupations.

Each of the three levels is based on the general educational level (GED) of occupations as described in the DOT. The "plus 3" set has the broadest general application and includes representative occupations covering the 3, 4, 5, and 6 GED levels. Approximately 15 percent of the included occupations require less than high school graduation, 58 percent require between high school graduation and three years of college and approximately 27 percent require four years or more of college. The "plus 4" set includes occupations with a GED level of 4 or more and is intended for use with college preparatory high school students, community college students, or adults with a high school education. The "plus 5" set includes occupations with a GED level of 5 or 6 and is intended for use with those individuals who are focusing on occupations that require at least graduation from college.

The occupations included in each of the three sets of sixty cards were selected so that each of Holland's six types is represented by ten cards. Further, occupations were selected to represent the appropriate GED level. Occupations with sex-role stereotypes were avoided and neutral gender titles were used. Occu-sort includes an eight-page self-guided booklet intended to lead the client through the stages involved in sorting cards, identifying a Holland code, using Holland's Occupations Finder, and further steps.

Both VEIK and Occu-sort are designed to provide a logical system through which a client can progress with maximum independence. Except for the referral to Occupations Finder, little consideration is given to helping the client expand consideration of alternative choices. Both card sort systems can be used effectively to widen choices if the "Might choose" pile is used as the basis for translating to the GOE areas. The Occu-sort cards already include the DOT code number, and the DOT codes for the VEIK cards are listed in the Occupations Finder. Both sets of cards could easily be modified to include GOE codes, thus simplifying the client's use of the GOE independently where he or she is exposed to other related titles, and the general information provided for each work group.

D-P-T codes Occupations named by a client as those that he or she has considered can be viewed in terms of relationship to data, people, and things. When several are identified, for example, from a list of common occupations or from a card sort deck, clients may be asked to group them according to similar D-P-T involvement. Although such sorting may well lead to increased client insight into personal interests, values, and personality characteristics, the major purpose is to provide a base for expanding occupational options. Once the major level of preference for D-P-T involvement has been identified, additional occupational possibilities compatible to those preferences can be identified by using the cubistic classification system or by reviewing DOT code numbers, focusing on the D-P-T digits. As stated above, it is also possible to move from D-P-T levels to appropriate GOE interest areas and work groups where additional occupational possibilities can be found.

Educational or Training Requirements

Clients may have predetermined levels of education or training in mind either as desired goals or as accepted limits. Self-imposed standards may originate from many antecedents including desire for attainment, prestige, or other perquisites that go with higher educational preparation. Similarly, lower limits may be the product of disillusionment with school, a belief that one's abilities are not compatible with formal education, or a strong desire to move into the "real world" and start "making it," and other reasons. External factors can also emphasize specific educational levels. For example, many college counselors have frequently encountered clients who say "My parents don't care what field I choose, just as long as I complete by bachelor's degree" or "No one in my family has yet attended college and they all insist that I must." Often maximum limits are imposed because of family attitudes, limited financial resources, or time constraints.

Primary attention will usually be given to other attributes in the expanding phase unless the client has indicated that he or she considers educational or training level to be a very significant aspect of the choice process. If the rationale is well thought out and accepted by the client, the counselor must recognize those aspects of the client's world; however, if the client's view is not well-founded, appears to contradict abilities or values, or does not provide an adequate basis for future planning, the counselor may want to consider the need for change counseling. At least, when disparity appears to exist between stated educational preferences and personal and psychological characteristics, the counselor must help the client consider and evaluate these discrepancies.

When attention is given to educational or training level, either self-imposed or externally prescribed, it often is handled in a limiting or narrowing way. This need not necessarily be the case, since even at the lowest levels of education, perhaps illustrated by the school dropout, there are numerous occupations that can be satisfactorily performed. For this reason we will consider the topic as a legitimate factor in the expanding process. Several of the tools previously considered can be applied to this area as well, and one new one will also be discussed.

Occupational view-deck Information on educational or training requirements for each of the 610 occupations presently included in the Occupational View-Deck is a basic part of that system.

Training programs

A Apprenticeship

B On-the-job Training

The various levels or types of programs are self-explanatory and are ordinarily easily understood by clients. Each is represented by a fairly wide range of occupational possibilities. The client can use the appropriate transparency to identify the codes of listed occupations that fit the educational level. The occupations represented by those code numbers can then be found in the Profile Statement booklet. The descriptive statements include the DOT Occupational Designation code which, in turn, can be used to obtain the GOE code that leads the person to GOE descriptions. As previously stated, the counselor can facilitate independent use of the View-Deck and the GOE or DOT by completing the DOT code number and adding the GOE code to each profile statement.

Worker trait keysort indicates that the Worker Trait Keysort includes information covering six levels of general educational development and seven levels of preparation. Because the Keysort is related directly to GOE information, it is a particularly useful device when used in conjunction with the Guide. The six levels of general educational development used in the Keysort have been adopted from the Dictionary of Occupational Titles3 third edition. These are arranged from level 6, which is most complex, to level 1, the simplest. Level 6 (as described in the DOT, third edition, Volume II) consists of a reasoning level able to:

Apply principles of logical or scientific thinking to a wide range of intellectual and practical problems. Deal with non-verbal symbolism (formulas, scientific equations, graphs, musical notes, etc.) in its most difficult phases. Deal with a variety of abstract and concrete variables. Apprehend the most abstruse classes of concepts.

Level 1 (as described in the DOT) consists of a reasoning level able to:

Apply common sense understanding to carry out simple one- or two-step instructions. Deal with standardized situations with occasional or no variables in or from these situations encountered on the job.

The concept of general educational development deals with those aspects of the individual's formal or informal education that has taught him or her reasoning skills and tool knowledge such as language and mathematical skills. Although the DOT describes levels of competency in reasoning, mathematical and language development, the Worker Trait Keysort considers only the first area but includes illustrations of both abstract and concrete variables dealt with at each of the six levels. The keysort cards include information for each four-digit group indicating the GED level required by occupations in that group.

Information about preparation and training is divided into two parts. The first part, consisting of two categories, indicates whether the four-digit group includes "entry" occupations that would be open to anyone with the necessary education and training, and whether the group includes occupations that are open only to those who have related work experience as well as the necessary education and training. The second part consists of the following five levels:

G-Requires college study at graduate level.

C-Requires study leading to baccalaureate degree.

T-Requires technical program beyond high school.

V-Requires high school level vocational training.

NFT-Requires no formal training other than general education.

Individuals for whom a stated educational level is a significant aspect of career choice can use the Key sort to identify those GOE groups that match the preferred level. Although GED levels can be acquired from informal experiences outside the formal educational structure, for most individuals one can expect a rough correlation to exist between level and quality of schooling and general educational development.

Guide for occupational exploration: Each work group statement within the GOE includes a brief description of the type and quantity of preparation required for the occupations that belong to the group. Two examples of the information in such descriptions are included here.

The Life Sciences (02.02) statement includes the following paragraph:

Occupations in this group usually require education and/or training extending from four years to over ten years, depending upon the specific kind of work. Important academic courses include algebra, geometry, advanced math, chemistry, and biological sciences. Technical writing or composition courses are helpful. A bachelor's degree with a major in biology or another life science is generally required. Graduate degrees are needed for most research work or for college teaching. A master's degree may qualify an individual for laboratory teaching. Advanced studies or a Ph.D. are usually required for work in basic research.

Elemental Work: Mechanical (05.12) includes the following descriptions of training requirements:

Occupations in this group usually require education and/or training extending from a short demonstration to over three months, depending upon a specific kind of work. This kind of work requires only a brief explanation of job duties. The most important hiring consideration is usually the physical ability of the applicant. Many of these jobs are available through union hiring halls. The U.S. Department of Labor recently published a supplementary volume to the DOT and the GOE entitled Selected Characteristics of Occupations Defined in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles. This book provides additional information about training time required in various occupations and identifies physical demands and environmental conditions.

Occupations are listed in Part A according to GOE Work Subgroups (six-digit codes). Within each subgroup they are further arranged by DOT code number within exertional level demands. Mathematical development, language development, and specific vocational preparation requirements are listed for each occupation. In Part B, occupations are listed sequentially according to DOT code number and the GOE code, strength factor, DOT title, and DOT industrial designation are also included.

As indicated above, Part A provides five pieces of information for each occupation classified in each GOE Work Subgroup. The DOT code, tide, and industrial designation are self-explanatory. Physical demands for each occupation are rated according to standard DOT classifications with letters S, L, M, H, and V representing lifting and carrying strength factors. The numbers represent the following demands:
  1. Climb and balance

  2. Stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl

  3. A-Reach, handle, finger, feel

  4. Talk, hear

  5. See (acuity, depth perception, field of vision, accommodation) (p. 479)
Environmental conditions are those factors previously labeled as working conditions, and represent the usual DOT definitions for those conditions as follows:

I-Inside (75 percent or more)

O-Outside (75 percent or more)

B-Both
  1. Extremes of cold plus temperature changes

  2. Extremes of heat plus temperature changes

  3. A-Wet and humid

  4. Noise and vibration

  5. Hazards

  6. Fumes, odors, toxic conditions, dust, poor ventilation (p. 479)
The fifth column includes information on the training time required for the occupation. This is provided under three headings. The M and L represent Mathematical Development and Language Development, and SVP is the usual DOT factor of Specific Vocational Preparation. M and L are refinements of the General Educational Development aspects originally included in Volume II of the third edition of the DOT. The original material included Reasoning Development (see descriptions of these traits included in the penultimate preceding section entitled Worker Trait Keysort), Mathematical Development, and Language Development. The Selected Characteristics material for tool knowledge has been rewritten to provide more helpful information for each of the levels ranging from Level 6 (most complex) to Level 1 (simplest). The more complex levels of M are described in terms of three applications as follows:

Level 6-Advanced Calculus, Modern Algebra, and Statistics

Level 5-Algebra, Calculus, Statistics

Level 4-Algebra, Geometry, Shop Math (p. 469)

Lower levels of M are described in terms of practical applied arithmetic functions. All levels of L are described as skill requirements in Reading, Writing, and Speaking.

Specific Vocational Preparation represents the amount of time required to learn the techniques, acquire information, and develop the facility needed for average performance in a specific job-worker situation. SVP may include training acquired through vocational education, apprenticeship, in-plant training, on-the-job training, or experience in other jobs. Nine levels are recognized, corresponding to those used in the Third Edition of the DOT, as follows:
  1. Short demonstration.


  2. Anything beyond short demonstration up to 30 days.


  3. Over 30 days up to and including 3 months.


  4. Over 3 months up to and including 6 months.


  5. Over 6 months up to and including 1 year.


  6. Over 1 year up to and including 2 years.


  7. Over 2 years up to and including 4 years.


  8. Over 4 years up to and including 10 years.


  9. Over 10 years, (p. 479)
Part B includes material that is self-explanatory.Part B is often helpful in finding the Part A information. If the client or counselor has an occupational title, the alphabetical index in the DOT can be used to obtain the DOT code; then Part B will provide the GOE Work Subgroup code under which the occupation can be found in Part A. Similarly, given the occupational title, one can look in Appendix D (Alphabetical Arrangement of Occupations) in the GOE where both DOT and GOE codes are listed, and then in Part A of Selected Characteristics for information located there.

Physical and Health Factors

Occasionally, a client will want to expand career options to capitalize on a particular physical asset or characteristic. Most of the time, however, if physical factors are considered in the choice process, this occurs in a narrowing or restrictive sense because of the client's desire to avoid certain physical requirements or environmental conditions, or because of physical or health limitations.

Rehabilitation counselors often encounter individuals with physical disabilities who generalize a physical restriction in one activity to inability to perform any type of activity. Devices that identify those jobs that require only physical activities they are still able to perform may help to develop a more positive approach to the world of work. Obviously, the person who cannot stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl can compete on an equal basis with other workers if these abilities are not required in the occupation.

Of the several of the devices of physical factors, three of them will be reviewed briefly here.

The Occupational View-Deck includes individual overlay stencils for the standard DOT physical demands. Thus, the physical demands for each of the 610 occupations included in View-Deck can be identified singly or in any combination. Similarly, there are nine stencils for the standard DOT working conditions.

The Worker Trait Keysort also includes the standard DOT physical demands and working conditions. Cards for each of the four-digit GOE work groups have been notched to indicate the relationship of appropriate physical demands or working conditions to that work group.

Part A of Selected Characteristics includes information about both physical demands and environmental conditions. One particular advantage in using Selected Characteristics derives from the fact that both factors are identified for every DOT occupation. Since the occupations are grouped according to GOE work subgroups, one can immediately see which other closely related occupations in that or adjacent subgroups possess the same or different physical demands or environmental conditions.

Occupational definitions in the 1982 Supplement to the Dictionary of Occupational Titles include listings of physical demands, environmental conditions, general educational development requirements, and specific vocational preparation requirements. Also included are the GOE code numbers and the Standard Occupational Classification code number. The inclusion of this information in the Supplement suggests that these data will be incorporated in all definitions when the fifth edition of the DOT is published. Access to that information within the DOT definition will greatly facilitate simultaneous use of DOT and GOE in the expanding phase.
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