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RIASEC in depth, part 2: Are your employees Investigative?

26 Nov 2015

RIASEC in depth, part 2: Are your employees Investigative?

Career Guidance, RIASEC 0 comments

An Investigative person isn’t always a Sherlock Holmes-in-training, especially when you’re using Investigative as defined by John L. Holland in his RIASEC theory of career choices. Although there are certain similarities, this is less about solving crimes and far more about career fit and work style.

RIASEC refers to six interest areas that are well-suited to different careers, one of which is Investigative. From these six areas, a total of fifteen combined profiles can be created.

Knowing if a candidate or employee’s dominant profile is Investigative will aid you in determining whether to hire them, their suitability for promotion to a managerial position, or even just which tasks to allocate them when working in a team. You’ll be able to avoid placing people in positions they are wildly unsuited for, thereby ensuring that productivity – and job satisfaction – remains high.

Signs of an Investigative

Investigatives, eager to learn and intellectually curious, have earned themselves the moniker of “thinkers”. They value critical thinking, tend to be interested in science, and are unfazed by change.

Do some of your employees always want to know why rather than just what? Do they prefer the logical approach? And do they like to think things through before acting? Then their Investigative level is probably high.

So what roles are Investigatives suited to?

Investigatives are characterised by intellectual curiosity and learning, and are often interested in science and technology.

They work well in a wide variety of fields, but are happiest when able to problem-solve, create, or produce tactical solutions. Rather than following protocols, they tend to operate in areas where those protocols haven’t been established. They can find satisfaction in roles as diverse as engineering, teaching, law, data analysis, customer service, and marketing.

It’s clear that Investigatives are a varied group and that this label alone is not enough to understand them. Instead, you should refer to their combined profile.

The 5 Kinds of Investigatives

  •  Investigative/Realistic (I/R): These action-orientated people find practical resolutions to technical issues. Allocate them mechanical problems or ones that need hands-on solutions.
  •  Investigative/Artistic (I/A): Intuitive and imaginative, I/As appreciate the freedom to develop their ideas. These tactically creative people can be confident communicators but are less drawn to negotiating. Let them create your sales materials while an I/E hammers out the deal.
  •  Investigative/Social (I/S): These people are intrigued by others. Fond of social contact but not competitive, they like to help people and do well in roles that require an understanding of human relations. Need someone to organise training programmes? Put an I/S in charge.
  •   Investigative/Enterprising (I/E):These energetic and optimistic people can juggle numerous projects. Additionally, they tend to be influential and persuasive. Assign challenging negotiations to them.
  •  Investigative/Conventional (I/C): These logical individuals have an interest in figures and produce meticulous work. To ensure high standards, they feel more comfortable when they can focus on one project at a time. If you have a lot of messy data, get an I/C to analyse it.

Countering Enterprising situations: How Investigatives can thrive in all settings

Thought-orientated Investigatives, who value expertise and strategic thinking, can produce innovative solution to problems – yet being innovative can also take time. With the exception of I/Es, they may find their interest levels dropping when handling multiple projects with strict deadlines. In particular, I/Cs may experience the anxiousness familiar to all perfectionists with limited time, while I/As may feel confined if they cannot develop their ideas to the extent that they wish.

Equally, with their respect for knowledge and truth, many Investigatives may undervalue persuasion. Even I/As, with their penchant towards marketing and communications roles, may dislike using deliberately persuasive techniques in their own day-to-day routine.

While Investigatives may not appreciate working to strict deadlines or being persuasive, these are important skills for many roles. Prioritisation and time management should be mastered, and they should also remember that not everyone pays as much attention to facts and data as they do. A spreadsheet might be all the eloquent proof an Investigative needs, but when presenting it to colleagues, a little rhetoric can have a large effect.

Selecting the right person for the right role is one of HR’s biggest and most important challenges. Even with the wide variety of industries Investigatives thrive in, they can feel stifled or rushed in the wrong position. Yet in the right one, their insight can be invaluable. Pioneering, intellectually curious, and highly logical, they are able to solve problems that no one else can.


If you wish to obtain a further nuanced and reliable understanding of your or someone else's career interests? You may be interested in IMMERSION.