What happened when four people professionals took the National Careers Service’s quiz?

Ever fancied retraining as a chef, soldier or carpet fitter? The government thinks a career in HR might give you the perfect start

A lot of people in the UK will remember going to the careers adviser at secondary school or college and taking a jobs test.

These multiple-choice quizzes were supposed to act as a guiding hand for confused students unsure of which profession would best suit them. But, ask anyone who took one of these what they do now, and you’ll likely find those who went on to pursue a career in their suggested area are few and far between (particularly those who received suggestions as varied as PE teacher, costume designer and dog groomer). 

Nonetheless, the government has decided it wants to give them another go. As part of a series of initiatives aimed at helping individuals left out of work by the pandemic to retrain for jobs in areas of the economy still growing, the National Careers Service (NCS) has launched a jobs quiz. But the 50-question test has been subject to a fair amount of scrutiny, and been the butt of numerous jokes and memes online.

So does the quiz deserve its bad rep? People Management tasked four HR professionals with taking the quiz and reporting back their results…

Tim Scott

Current job: Director of people at Fletchers Solicitors

NCS quiz suggestions: Paramedic, security manager and soldier

“The options it came up with for me were paramedic, security manager and soldier. Having spent over 20 years as an HR generalist, this was a bit of a surprise. That said, when I thought about it some more, I can recall certain disciplinary meetings where I've needed to be all three at the same time – so maybe it's not such a bad shout after all!”

Sandra McLellan

Current job: Founder of HR Inspire

NCS quiz suggestion: Head chef

“After personally testing the government’s new skills and careers tool to understand it further for HR Inspire clients, the tool threw up fairly mixed results. I don’t particularly like cooking, but it recommended an alternative career for me as a head chef.

But where it was correct was in suggesting roles such as public relations director, construction contracts manager and estates officer where I could use my skills as a busy business owner leading numerous teams, managing various projects, and coming up with creative ideas to help clients and enable business growth. It’s a good platform in the sense that it acknowledges your motivations as well as your skill. But of course the results aren’t always reflective of the current jobs market.”

Emma Welford

Current job: Former head of HR at H&T Group

NCS quiz suggestions: Horse groom, soldier and carpet fitter

“Mine came back with a huge array of suggestions that I have never contemplated, and here are some of my favourites. It suggested a horse groom, but I am frightened of horses. It also suggested a soldier, but you need to be 36 years old or under, and a carpet fitter, but I don’t think my chiropractor would approve. Football instructor was another suggestion, but I don’t know the offside rule. And finally, an actor. Unfortunately I didn’t even get a speaking part in the school play.” 

Gemma Dale

Current job: Lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University and co-founder of The Work Consultancy

NCS quiz suggestion: Chef

“One of my options was, among others, chef. I do like to bake a cake from time to time, and at school I was famous for making sausage rolls almost every week in home economics. (It's easier than you think – pastry dish? Sausage rolls. Party dish? Sausage rolls. Main meal? A sausage roll served with mashed potato.) But I don't think it’s a suitable career for me. Fortunately I am not using this quiz seriously; I doubt it would be that helpful if I was considering a new career.”

What does the National Careers Service think you should consider as an alternative job? Take the quiz on the gov.uk website and tweet us your results to @PeopleMgt