Attention to detail can make the difference between a good job and a great one. Great attention to detail can transform the way a company operates and ensures improvements to workplace productivity, efficiency, and performance.
What is attention to detail?
Attention to detail is an individual’s capacity to be thorough, accurate, and consistent with their work. Attention to detail skills allow those who have them to perform detail-oriented work with greater ease. These people make an indispensable asset to any company or organization that hires them.
Paying attention to details can make a huge difference in the way work assignments are fulfilled. For instance, a salesperson with a keen eye for detail may be able to up-sell more often, while also making fewer mistakes.
A high level of attention to detail is not a trait seen in all people but is nonetheless very desirable to employers. After all, measuring attention to detail in candidates for a job position can substantially increase the value of the hiring process.
People who excel at attention to detail exist in all industries, but are especially valuable for the following job positions:
- Computer programmers,
- Data analysts,
- Graphic designers,
- Laboratory technicians,
Why is attention to detail so important in the workplace?
Attention to detail boosts productivity. In addition, it prevents a person from doing something that may be detrimental to the goals of a company. A lack of attention to detail may lead to mistakes that can impact both profits and the health of individuals.
People who pay attention to details make fewer mistakes
An employee of a company making a mistake can affect its performance in several ways. For instance, a community manager can accidentally harm a business’s reputation with a careless update. Other forms of careless behaviours can have even harsher consequences, such as financial losses, legal troubles, or accidents.
Even the smallest of careless mistakes can have huge ramifications in the long run. For example, a misplaced decimal point made scientists tenfold overestimate the iron content of spinach. This made the whole world believe for most of the 20th century that the vegetable was a “magical” source of vitamin A (source). While this accident led to the creation of Popeye, it also shows how a small misstep can drastically change future outcomes.
Detail-oriented job candidates will deliver high-quality work
For individuals with high levels of attention to detail, turning in their work isn’t enough. Just as a sculptor makes sure their art is beautiful from every angle, an attentive worker will take pride in ironing out their mistakes and delivering their best. This type of employee can perform their duties without the need for close supervision, as one can trust them to always turn in good work.
In contrast to an employee who will only perform well when being under scrutiny, a detail-oriented worker aims to make the way they fulfill their duties more efficiently as they gain experience. They instinctively create new strategies and workflows to remain consistent with the quality of their work. Likewise, they are eager to provide solutions to improve the way their teammates do their assignments.
On the other hand, employees with poor analytical skills will rush their work. In an effort to provide quantity over quality, they may end up lacking in both. An employee who can’t be relied on may be in need of constant supervision. This means that other team members may need to spend time tutoring this person or fixing their mistakes. This can reduce overall productivity and create resentment or infighting within an otherwise cooperative team.
Detail-oriented work creates stronger customer relationships
Everyone prefers to work alongside someone who does their job well and is eager to do it. Detail-oriented job candidates are able to leave a lasting good impression on customers, who will in turn associate it with the brand and the services it provides. Customer loyalty and engagement are major drivers for business, so they should always be put front and centre.
Attention to detail goes beyond being able to notice patterns and mistakes. Dealing with customers is also an emotional activity, and individuals with high attention to detail may notice nuances in customers’ behaviour which they can use to serve them better. Having good manners and knowing how to communicate are also attention to detail skills.
How to test attention to detail before and during an interview
Implement pre-employment assessment tests
A surefire way to identify the strengths and weaknesses of potential new hires is to have them take the right cognitive skills tests. For instance, one can easily tell if someone has good math skills if their numerical reasoning test times are short and their answers are still correct. Likewise, other traits like attention to detail and personality can also be measured using psychometric tests.
There are many advantages to making potential employees take ability tests. To begin with, you can increase operational efficiency and reduce turnover by hiring employees ready to give their all. Moreover, you will not have to wait until a complex situation arises for your employees to test their mettle, as you will already have all the details of what they’re capable of.
Pay attention to CVs, cover letters, and portfolios
If a job candidate has good attention to detail, they will probably let you know from the moment they first establish contact. The documents a job candidate delivers to a potential employer, including their CV, cover letter, and portfolio, will let you know how they approach a matter as important as a job interview.
You can gauge the textual attention by taking a look at the way they communicate in written form. When looking at a prospective job candidate’s CV, make sure not to limit yourself to the written content and also assess its structure, grammar, spelling, and capacity to convey ideas.
Take note of applicants’ behaviour during the interview
First impressions can tell a lot about a person. If someone doesn’t get there on time or requires that questions be repeated to them too often, you may be dealing with an individual who is not there to give their all. In the same vein, detail-oriented candidates will make sure to look presentable and act well-mannered during their interview.
Observe the content of their answers
Detail-oriented people rarely give blunt yes/no answers to job interview questions. They’d rather offer details and examples to support their ideas rather than just answer vaguely.
See how acquainted potential hires are with the company
If a candidate has prepared themselves for a pre-employment assessment, then they may already be partially acquainted with the work you do. Interested job candidates may have visited the company’s website or performed similar research. Moreover, they may already know about the company culture and values and consider themselves to be a good fit.
Identify different types of attention to detail
Try not to confuse an individual with good attention to detail from one who is too anxious to deliver their work appropriately. If someone is a perfectionist but isn’t goal-oriented, they may spend too much time and resources over-correcting projects that are ready for delivery. Always make sure that an individual’s attention to detail is beneficial to their professional performance.
Attention to detail interview questions
- Would you rather focus on the “big picture” or on the smaller details? When askingthis question, you should offer a hypothetical situation as a basis for your preference.
- Do you think of yourself as a perfectionist and why?
- Do you have any strategies to check for quality?
- How do you deal with the quality of your work when working under a tight deadline?
- Have you ever had to sacrifice quality to overcome a tight deadline?
- How do you manage daily work assignments?
- Do you use any tools or technologies to help you stay organized?
- When you plan ahead, do you focus more on quality or quantity?
- Are you capable of limiting distractions in the workplace?
- Do you have any techniques to find errors that are easy to overlook?
- How would you deal with a manager or superior who is making an error? How would you communicate it to them?
The best attention to detail test
Employers looking for the ideal attention to detail test for potential new hires can rely on different solutions, including the ID-Cognitive (Cog) test, the ID-Personality, the ID-Alphanumerical, the ID-Verification and the ID-Numerical. Each of these tests assess a different portion of the attention to detail. The ID-Cognitive (COG), previously known as the Work Applied Cognitive Ability Test (WAC-AT), goes beyond measuring mere attentiveness and can measure an individual’s cognitive processes, critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and much more.
Cognitive ability testing can be used to know a job applicant’s ability to overcome many different types of challenges. This includes their proficiency when using logic, as well as their verbal, numerical, and spatial reasoning skills. The development of brain connectivity and other important soft skills can be predicted by good reading skills (source).
The ID-Cognitive test improves the efficiency of the job application process regardless of the position that needs to be filled. The test is a good indicator of future job success, so it can be used to gauge the abilities of both internal and external hires. Through a proper assessment of attention to detail, you can guarantee your new hires will have the skills to excel, succeed, and help your company grow.
The ID-Personality, formerly known as the Work Approach and Behaviour Test (WABT) looks at the attention to detail from the standpoint of personality. Some of us are naturally inclined to look at details, while others are more comfortable looking only at the overall view. Personality is thus a critical factor when assessing attention to detail.
Finally, the ID-Alphanumerical, the ID-Verification and the ID-Numerical all look at this competency from a skill perspective. These tests will assess whether someone is capable of being attentive to detail when reproducing numbers or letters or when verifying information.