5 Interview Questions to Find a Detail-Orientated Candidate


Not every candidate possesses a true eye for attention to detail.

However, having a detail-orientated approach is essential when you're hiring for intricate and technical jobs such as an engineer or surgeon.

The sign of a detail-orientated candidate is someone efficient in their work when under pressure from tight deadlines and can effectively organise the way they manage schedules and logistics.

A detail-orientated candidate is also resourceful, which enables them to detect small errors in methods or processes and will always try to find a solution.

The question is; how can you distinguish the pretenders from the contenders?

To give you an idea, here's a handy list of interview questions designed to help you find a candidate with a high level of attention to detail.

Are you a perfectionist? If so, why?

Being a perfectionist can be a benefit and a hindrance all at once.

For instance, a candidate who goes the extra mile to make sure a project or service is perfect ensures your business always delivers top results.

However, if they become obsessed with correcting things and overthinking it, your productivity rates will take a hit.

Ideally, you want a candidate to understand both sides of this interview question and gives you a balanced response.

If they fall into the trap of simply saying 'Yes' or 'No', this suggests they aren't going to be a good fit.

What do you care about the most ' perfection or sticking to deadlines?

If the previous interview question to assess attention to detail didn't give you all the details you needed, try asking this as a follow-up.

There are several ways a candidate can go with this one.

The key to success is to find someone who cares about the quality of their work but also appreciates the importance of time-keeping.

Granted, this doesn't apply to a surgeon, as making an operation a positive completely outweighs the need to do it within a certain time frame.

Whereas a software quality tester will need to keep a client's strict delivery times in mind before they prolong the testing stage.

The best candidates will give you specific examples of how they're able to manage both elements.

How do you deal with workplace distractions?

Distractions are everywhere.

From phones ringing to colleagues doing a tea-run, a detail-orientated candidate knows how to handle these types of distractions to ensure the work is completed to a top-level.

Can they give you any specific examples of how they've achieved this? Have they got any techniques?

This interview question also gives them a chance to share how passionate they are about the job and how it helps them 'lose themselves' in what they do.

Have you ever identified an error made by someone more senior than you? If so, how did you address it with them?

Everyone makes mistakes, even senior members of staff.

Perhaps a method or process in a software solution is slow and needs patching.

Whatever it is, you need a candidate who knows how to manage these situations and can turn it into a positive experience.

Does the candidate give you an example of how they worked together to develop the findings?

Are they humble in their response and adopt a collaborative approach to find a better solution?

It's not an opportunity to undermine their seniors.

Instead, it's a chance to showcase their knowledge and use the information presented to improve the end product or service.

What do you prefer ' working on the 'big picture' or the 'small details'? Give me an example to support your choice.

The 'correct' answer to this question depends on what job you're hiring for.

However, a candidate who chooses the 'small details' is usually a good sign that they have a high level of attention to detail, as it indicates they like to find problems and remedy them.

Although, if you're hiring a senior employee, the 'big picture' is just as important.

It tells you that the candidate prefers to assess the whole project and explore concepts from afar.

They might find it easier to step back and analyse methods and processes before making executive decisions.

Both options can work providing they give you a credible explanation to back up their choice.

Things to consider before the interview

As well asking these five interview questions, have you thought about the other elements of your recruitment process too?

For example, typos and previous experience in a candidate's CV, cover letter and portfolio will tell you a lot about their level of attention to detail.

It's also worth assessing their general behaviours during a Skype interview or first interview as well.

Are they conscious about their appearance and what they're wearing? Do they have polite manners? If they are, you're on the right track.

Does the candidate use the things you say to ask educated questions throughout the interview?

Someone who can use the information given to them to form questions of their own demonstrates an ability to follow a brief and work in a calculated way.

And more importantly, is the candidate punctual and on time for their interview?

Time-keeping is an essential sign of someone with a high level of attention to detail.


Consider all of these points and you're bound to find a star employee who sweats about the small stuff!

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