Let’s face the reality: attention to detail is important for almost all jobs, and it is essential for many of them. You won’t get far in your professional career without having this ability. And if they are asking about it in an interview, in nine out of ten cases they expect you to be a detail oriented person.

Of course, it’s not as simple as that in the interviews… First of all, what you say must correspond with that they observe and perceive while taking to you. If you say that you are detail oriented, but at the same time struggle to talk to the point, or forget to answer some parts of their questions, they will immediately doubt your words and you may lose credibility in their eyes. If it happens, they won’t hire you.

What’s more, simple yes or no will rarely do the trick. You should elaborate on your answer, demonstrating your attention to detail with some situation from your previous job, or with some attitude you explain in detail. Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this tricky interview question. I hope you will find within our selection at least one answer that matches your attitude and experience.

 

7 sample answers to “Are you a detail oriented person?” interview question

  1. Judging by my experience, I’d say I am a detail oriented person. I worked as an accountant for seven years, and I rarely made a mistake. I understood that any mistake can prove extremely costly when you work as an accountant, and therefor I tried to stay focused in the job, and double checked every important record I made. But when I made a mistake, I was ready to admit it and to bear the responsibility.
  2. I definitely understand the importance of details in process management. A slight change to this or that process can result in a significant improvement of overall results. The devil is in the detail, as the saying goes. I must say that I find it fascinating, and enjoy the continuous tweaking and improving of little details, while trying to find the winning combinations and the most effective way of doing things. Judging by this, you can perhaps say that I am a detail oriented person.
  3. I think there’s definitely a room for improvement if we talk about my attention to detail. I understand the crucial role it plays in cooking, that the details add the subtle flavors and colors to each meal, and that small details can change an average dining experience to a great one. You see, I understand the theory, but I am also aware of the fact that I have to pay more attention to details while preparing the meals, especially in the final stage. But I think it is a part of the process, and hopefully I’ll get better in it over time.
  4. I would say I am not a detail oriented person. And that’s the reason why I opt for this simple manual labor. You do not need much attention to detail when planting trees. You simply dig a hole, plant the small tree in it, make a record, and that’s it. I think that each of us should look for a job that matches their strengths and preferences. I do not like high stress levels, and I may struggle to keep attention to detail, especially on a long shift. Hence working outside, in the woods, doing a repetitive job that is physically demanding but easy on the mind, is a perfect choice for me.

 

  1. Yes, I am. I pay attention to detail, and as an analyst I cannot afford anything less than paying attention to each detail, even the smallest one. Unless I get all variables right for my time row analysis, unless I gather all important data, I will make bad predictions. While trying to hone this skill, what definitely helps is staying in the present moment, and limiting all distractions. I do not listen to music while working, and do not think about some activities I will do in the afternoon, once I am back home from work. While working, I simply focus on the task at hand, on my analysis and on each detail that plays some role in it.
  2. To be honest, I cannot really say. I think you should ask my former superior, because sometimes people who work with us see things we do not see, blinded by our image of ourselves, by some fallacy of our ego. Of course I know that it makes sense to pay attention to detail, and that it can make a difference between an average and an excellent customer service. But it is also true that if the phones keep ringing and customers are waiting on the lines, it’s maybe better to try to address the request of a customer quickly, of course solving the issue, and move to the next one. If you paid too much attention to detail and asked the customer some questions that weren’t necessary, you would make the waiting customers more frustrating. Of course it’s a thin ice to walk on, and you need to find a good balance between speed and precision.
  3. I am definitely a detail oriented person. Some situations from my last job illustrate this perfectly. I remember a mobile app we were working on, and I was responsible for the front-end design. I made four different variations and did a lot of testing with the help of beta testers, to choose the winner, the best interface for the final user. At the end of the day, if we want to stand out in the world of technology, we have to pay attention to detail. Because apps resemble one another, and unless we make unique and innovative designs, we won’t make a breakthrough on the market. At least that’s my opinion…

 

Are there any jobs in which attention to detail isn’t important, or can even be considered as a weakness?

Not paying attention to details and neglecting them completely are two different things. The first one is fine in many professions. Manual repetitive labor–think picking fruits, laying bricks, carrying stuff from one place to another, is such an example.

In similar jobs speed matters, and the amount of work you manage to do during the shift. It’s not really important whether you forget one strawberry on each plant or pick all of them all. Asking too many questions, or thinking more than working, is rather a minus in this case.

The same is true in a busy call center, or in a packed retail store. Surely, if there’s just one customer in the shop, it is nice to explain them all the details of the product, and perhaps encourage them to try this or that variation, or even ask them about something personal, trying to make a connection.

But if five or ten people stand in the queue, waiting for your attention, you should try to minimize the time you spend serving each customer. And in such a case you cannot afford to pay too much attention to details…

* Special Tip: This isn’t the only difficult question you will face while interviewing for any decent job. You will face questions about prioritization, dealing with pressure, dealing with ambiguity, and other situations that happen in the workplace. If you want to make sure that you stand out with your answers and outclass your competitors, have a look at our Interview Success Package. Up to 10 premium answers to 31 tricky scenario based questions (+ more) will make your life much easier in the interviews. Thank you for checking it out!

Top management and leadership roles – should you pay attention to detail in them?

When you apply for a mid-level or top level management job, a position in which you won’t work with processes anymore, but you will manage people who supervise other people and processes, it can sometimes backfire to dwell too much on details, for a simple reason–when 100s of people work under you, it’s just not possible to remember everything and everyone.

You will make strategic decisions, and you will work mostly with reports and suggestions from your subordinates–who should have attention to detail. And you will often have to decide quickly.

If you always waited for yet another confirmation, or until every analysis is done, it can easily happen that you will lose your position on the market, just because your competitors took some risks, and released the product before you did, waiting for yet another report or analysis…

 

Total negligence is never good

Having said that, you should never say that you ignore details completely–regardless of the job you try to get.

If attention to detail doesn’t belong to your strengths, say that you understand the importance of it, and will try to improve on this quality over time. In my experience it’s a skill everyone can learn, unless they are unlucky and suffer from some sort of mental disorder and cannot pay attention to things that happen around them as a result.

Such things happen in life, and luckily there are jobs for these people too–cutting grass, planting trees, doing some repetitive (but not necessarily boring) activities that do not require much thinking once you learn how to do them.

 

Conclusion, next steps

In 9 out of 10 cases, or maybe even in 95 out of 100, paying attention to details is a plus in a job interview.

When they ask you any question that relates to this skill–and there are many variations of such questions, try to narrate a short story from school or one of your past jobs that demonstrates that you indeed are a detail oriented person.

And do not forget to pay attention to the other questions of the interviewers. Because if you did not talk to a point, or forgot to bring something or to answer some of their questions, they would not believe your claims (about being a detail oriented person).

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Check also 7 sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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