In short, a flat profile means you score average or below on all scales and all your scores are close to even. You might have one or two occupational scales that are high, but not enough to show a pattern. You might also have all your scores in the very little interest range. What causes these kinds of patterns?
There are many possible explanations. These include narrow or well-defined interests, little knowledge of the world of work, cultural differences, mood, chronic indecision, unwillingness to make a commitment, family or peer pressure, role conflict, low self-esteem, and a pervasive indifference. While we cannot go into detail on all of these possible reasons, we will look at a few.
Sometimes people have flat profiles simply because they do not want to work. They have a job because they need one, so work is something they endure. They often have little desire to pick a more suitable career. Basically, they don't care about work. The test results will show this.
Cultural differences can result from those who speak a language other than American English as their first language. These people may be unfamiliar with some terms or occupations and be unsure how to answer the questions. In such instances, people tend to be reluctant to respond "Like" to those questions they are unsure about.
For some in the midst of a career change, there may be some reluctance to commit to specific career or area. Sometimes these people struggle between accepting the status quo and moving on to new areas. This is particularly likely if their scores on the Risk Taking scale are towards the "Play it safe" pole. In short, this might be a temporary condition, brought about by the impending change. They could be unready or unwilling to make a change. In these cases, further discussion would likely clarify the underlying causes and reveal possible solutions.
Mood can play a role in how a person responds to the Strong questions. Obviously, if you are tired, worn out, rushed, or coerced into taking the test, the results are unlikely to be an accurate reflection of your true preferences. This can be true for those recently unemployed as well. Sometimes the loss of a job can affect how we see ourselves for quite a while. It might not be obvious to the person taking the test how much he or she has been affected by leaving a job. Even if the departure was voluntary, it's likely that a person's emotions will be active for some time. Waiting until things have settled down a bit might be the best course of action in such cases.