The cross-cultural application and research on assessment instruments used in career counselling and guidance in the Nordic countries is discussed. Three examples where etic and emic approaches to establish the cross-cultural validity of American instruments in Finland and Iceland are described. These are the Career Thoughts Inventory, vocational interest inventories and a measure of career adaptability. These efforts show that contextual factors influence the responses to imported measures. Emic approaches are needed to fully test the applicability of assessment instruments as well as theoretical constructs developed in other cultures, but used in career counselling in the Nordic countries.