5 Interview Questions to Test Attention to Detail

Coburg Banks
4 min readMay 19, 2021

When it comes to hiring for intricate and technical jobs, such as the role of surgeon or software quality assurance tester, attention to detail is of paramount importance.

For jobs like these, accuracy is a critical part of their day-to-day roles.

A candidate who possesses this particular attribute is also more likely to be:

- Efficient in the work they produce, regardless of tight deadlines;

- Organised in how they manage schedules and logistics;

- Resourceful so they can detect small errors in methods or processes and try to remedy them.

The only catch is that trying to find someone with a true eye for attention to detail is extremely hard.

Let’s face it, no candidate is going to rate their ability in this department below a ten out of ten!

With this in mind, here are some tried and tested interview questions to test attention to detail.

Would you describe yourself as a perfectionist? If so, why?

The first interview question to test attention to detail can be construed in two different ways.

On the one hand, having a desire to make everything perfect can give you quality results in the workplace.

However, it can also lead to lower productivity, with employees choosing to spend too much time overthinking and overcorrecting their projects.

It’s a fine balance you need to identify within a candidate.

When you ask this question, does the candidate understand this factor and tells you how they’d always deliver on time, despite their passion for perfection?

Which leads me nicely onto my next question.

What matters more to you, perfection or hitting deadlines?

If they fall into the trap of saying they’re a perfectionist without weighing up the productivity implications, you should definitely ask this interview question.

There are plenty of routes a candidate can take here.

The key to answering positively is finding a candidate who appreciates the importance of time-keeping and quality in regards to their particular job.

For example, if they’re a surgeon, sticking to a deadline isn’t too important if it’s a matter of life and death.

However, a software quality tester who ignores a client’s strict deadlines for the sake of trying a handful of other alternative solutions isn’t working efficiently.

If the candidate can give you specific examples of how they manage both factors, then you’re onto a winner.

How do you manage to limit distractions in the workplace?

Whatever industry you operate in, there will always be distractions everywhere.

From clients and employees to exterior noises and phones ringing.

A detail-orientated candidate will be able to blank out these distractions and work efficiently regardless.

Can they effectively explain how they do this?

Have they got any particular techniques that help?

This would be a good opportunity for them to describe their passion for the job and how they can easily ‘lose themselves in what they do’.

Describe a time you identified an error made by someone more senior than you. How did you address it with them?

There will be times when a top detailed-orientated employee finds a problem with a process or method implemented by their senior — awks!

But it shouldn’t be made into a big palaver.

The sign of an excellent candidate is someone who is humble and good at managing situations.

You want someone who gives you a practical and proactive response, such as, “Using what I found, I developed a few alternative options to present to my manager. We then worked together to develop these ideas further.”

It’s not a case of just raising an issue and undermining them.

Can the candidate show how they used it as an opportunity to find a better solution for the client?

Do you prefer to work for the “big picture” or the “small details”? Give an example to support your choice.

Ideally, someone with high attention to detail will be keen to get stuck in with the smaller details as they like the sound of finding problems and remedying them.

Although, a “big picture” person might give you a good indication of who is management material.

Perhaps they like to take a step back to analyse methods and processes.

Then they can delegate time more effectively.

The right answer depends on the job you’re hiring for.

Other things to consider

If you ask these interview questions, you’ll get a real sense of whether the candidate possesses an eye for attention to detail or not.

However, you can also use other methods to determine this attribute beforehand as well.

For instance, you can tell a lot about an individual by taking a closer look at the details in their CVs, cover letter and portfolio.

Are there any typos?

Can you spot any previous jobs where they’ve had to demonstrate deeper analytical thinking?

You can also tell whether they’re detail-orientated candidates by assessing their general behaviour during the interview.

If they’re more conscious about their appearance and manners, this is a positive sign.

Similarly, being punctual to the interview and showcasing good listening skills are behavioural must-haves too.

Good luck!

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- Mark Wilkinson



Coburg Banks

We’re a UK based, multi-sector recruiter that‘s on a mission to prove that recruitment doesn’t necessarily have to be predictable and boring.