During the height of the pandemic, almost 16,000 COVID cases went unreported in England due to an Excel error committed by Public Health England (PHE). We know that a slight mistake can cost companies millions of dollars. However, in some cases, it can even result in the loss of precious lives.
That’s why attention to detail is a highly sought-after trait in any job interview. Detail-oriented employees are more likely to spot an error and prevent it from causing colossal damage. No wonder employers prefer to work with teams that will make as few mistakes as possible when handling projects, assignments, or any other organizational tasks.
What Is Attention to Detail?
Attention to detail is the ability to achieve thoroughness and accuracy when tackling tasks. It’s the ability to focus on what really matters and be able to perform your duties efficiently and effectively.
It means approaching your actions with a critical mindset and thinking through every detail without allowing distractions to interfere with the process. Attention to detail is a commonly used phrase by many hiring managers when analyzing a potential candidate’s resume. So, this skill is extremely valuable if you want to raise your chances of landing a good job.
There’s a good reason why FlexJobs included attention to detail as one of the top soft skills to highlight in a resume. For an employer, a team of detail-oriented employees means that they can identify the little mistakes that often go unnoticed. These are mistakes that can have a big impact on the company’s performance and profits.
In his article titled Best Advice: Pay Attention to Detail, Josh Bersin, a Global Industry Analyst, elaboartes on how the advice on paying attention to detail has been the most transformational advice of his career.
Attention to Detail Skills
Attentiveness to detail is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone. Luckily, anyone can master it with good practice. Below, you will find the most important attention to detail skills that can help you develop your career:
- Active listening skills
- Organizational skills
- Analytical thinking skills
- Time management skills
- Observational skills
Active Listening Skills
Active listening is the ability to intentionally hear what is being said. It’s truly listening to what someone else is saying rather than waiting for your turn to speak.
To practice this, try to remove distractions that might hinder you from giving the speaker full attention. Restate what the speaker is saying to be sure you comprehend what they mean. Avoid interrupting them before they finish their thought. Some of the skills that you should start working on include:
- Maintaining eye contact with the person speaking to you. This shows that you are attentive and keen to listen to what’s being said.
- Using body language to show interest in what the person is trying to tell you.
- Providing feedback by asking questions or paraphrasing what the speaker is saying. This shows that you’re actively following the speaker’s train of thought.
- Never making assumptions without assessing the situation. Avoid jumping to conclusions but rather learn to listen before offering a genuine response.
Organizational skills involve the ability to create order and structure while prioritizing tasks that must be completed to achieve the desired outcome. It’s how well you use your time, strength, and energy to work on tasks that require your immediate attention.
Having good organizational skills helps you to avoid developing poor work habits like procrastination, inefficiency, and miscommunication. Employers give priority to employees who are capable of keeping their work and workspace organized. Moreover, they should be quick to adjust to the organizational structure of a firm.
Being well-organized is an important skill that shows your attentiveness to details and your efficiency as an employee. Your organizational skills are evident in your ability to collaborate and communicate with coworkers, as well as how you can build and manage a team.
Thankfully, technology has now made team collaboration and engagement easily achievable. As a leader, you can implement the use of project management software programs, timesheet apps, time trackers, day planners, and calendars.
Analytical Thinking Skills
Analytical thinking skills are the abilities that allow you to observe, research, and assess a situation, subject, or information. Moreover, it involves coming up with ideal solutions in a timely and efficient manner. You employ analytical skills when brainstorming, interpreting data, researching new information, solving problems, improving products, identifying new clients, and making decisions.
Employees with strong analytical thinking skills can quickly analyze a situation, error, or mistake and formulate the best solution. This skill is required in most types of work, and it helps you become more focused on doing what’s best for the team and company.
Time Management Skills
Time management is a skill that can help boost your career. It goes hand in hand with organizational skills. After all, how you manage your day, tasks, and events will determine how well you will accomplish or complete them. For instance, if you’re able to organize your day well, you can create more time to attend to other matters.
Additionally, when you stay organized, you can have a clear picture of how your day will be like and stay engaged during your meetings. Learning time management skills improves your productivity and efficiency, reduces work/life stress, and increases opportunities to achieve your career goals.
On the other hand, failing to manage your time properly may lead to undesirable results. You might experience poor work quality, inefficiencies, missed deadlines, and higher work stress levels.
This is evident in Effectory’s COVID-19 Workforce Pulse surveys between late March and early June 2020. During the onset of the pandemic, around 62% of US employees found it difficult to strike a good work-life balance. Indeed, time management is critical, especially if you want to survive in a highly dynamic work environment.
Some practical ways to improve your time management skills include:
- Prioritizing tasks
- Working with deadlines
- Setting up goals
- Scheduling tasks using time management tools like Traqq
- Starting work early
- Avoiding multitasking
- Overcoming procrastination
Observational skills teach you to pay attention to your surroundings. This involves means watching situations, people, and events, and using your analytical thinking skills to analyze what you can see. Improving your observation skills allows you to become a better listener and enhances your attentiveness to details.
To be an efficient and effective employee, you need to listen well while being aware of your surroundings. You can practice observational skills by learning to watch people in crowded areas, paying attention to new things, and learning to pick out patterns. Instead of using your phone when in the park, try to observe things that are happening around you.
Attention to Detail Examples for Job Hunting
Attention to detail is especially useful when applying for jobs and preparing for interviews. You need to show your employer that you are detail-oriented and possess some of the topmost skills required for your job position. These are time management, organizational, observational, analytical thinking, and active listening skills.
Below, we share a few attentions to details examples:
One great way to show your attention to detail skills is to create a well-structured resume that’s error-free. Be sure to include attention to details in the skills section, giving examples of your strengths in active listening and organization. Remember to describe how you applied these skills in the position you held.
During an interview, employers or hiring managers want to know if you’re detail-oriented, and they may ask questions to test your skills. So, when preparing for an interview, be sure to dress appropriately and arrive on time. Use the observational skills that you’ve been working on to read the non-verbal cues from the job recruiter. Likewise, pay attention to your surroundings and be sure to thoroughly research the organization in advance so you can provide relevant answers.
Graphic design requires strong attention to detail. It calls for creativity if you truly want to showcase your craftsmanship. Plus, designing requires a lot of patience to complete a project.
To be able to communicate effectively, you need to pay careful attention to what you say or write when expressing your ideas or thoughts. For example, when generating a report or summary of the weekly or monthly events in your company, you need to be keen to ensure that all the details are accurate.
Proofreading and Editing
If you’re a writer, you must have a keen eye for details, quickly detecting an error or mistake in tenses, grammar, and writing style. Proofreading skills apply to many sectors like copywriting, resume writing, content writing, blog writing, and article writing, to mention a few. It’s also a great skill to review different types of documents for accuracy.
Roles Involving Numbers
If your job primarily involves mathematical work, then you need keen attention to detail. You need to be observant to ensure you’re always thinking clearly. After all, you must make quick mental computations while staying highly organized and logical.
Attention to details is critical in almost all sectors:
A pilot is tasked with the lives of hundreds of people. It’s their responsibility to intensely concentrate when taking off and landing an aircraft to ensure the safety of passengers.
A forex trader has to pay careful attention to details to correctly identify the negative and positive trends in the market.
Accountants have to make error-free calculations and present them in a way that shows the growth of the organization or how funds are being utilized.
What Are the Common Attention to Detail Interview Questions?
A Twin Employment & Training survey revealed that 47% of recruiters won’t make a job offer if the candidate evidently didn’t conduct research on the company. When you have little knowledge about the role, it shows how poor your attention to detail is. Remember that interviewers will observe the following:
- If you come on time
- If you prepared for the interview questions
- If you go into detail when providing answers
- If you ask relevant questions at the end of the interview
You should also expect interview questions that will gauge your eye for details. Here are some questions to expect:
- How did you resolve a problem or error that you discovered?
- When starting a new project, what are the first steps you take?
- Is there a project you’ve worked on that required a high level of accuracy?
- How do ensure the quality of your own work?
These types of questions are crucial in helping employers determine how you use specific skills in real-life challenges. So, make sure you go into detail when answering them.
Using the STAR Method
When answering interview questions for attention to detail skills, using the STAR method can be beneficial. It will provide you with a framework for your response. STAR stands for:
Situation – Describe the situation or event that you were in.
Task – Explain your role or task in the scenario.
Action – Share the specific steps you took.
Result – If possible, quantify what you’ve accomplished.
Let’s say the recruiter asked you about the time you showed initiative in the workplace. Check out this infographic below and see how you can respond:
How to Improve Your Attention to Detail
Attention to detail is not some natural quality that is exclusive to some people. The truth is, there are many ways you can improve this skill in your personal and professional life:
How to Improve Your Attention to Detail in Your Personal Life
One of the first steps you can take to improve your attention to detail is becoming organized. You can start by ensuring that all your appointments are listed on your calendar. You can also use a to-do list app to make task management easier for you. Even when you’re working from home, it would also help if you rid your desk of anything that may distract you. Having an organized desk can also improve your focus.
Make Reading a Habit
Another hack you can try is rereading your favorite book. On your second reading, pay attention to character motivations, plot foreshadowing, and other elements you haven’t noticed before. You already know the main points of the story, but this time, you will be able to spot details that you missed on your first reading.
Meditation has been known to improve focus and a person’s overall health. By reducing stress and calming your mind, this exercise can enhance your memory and attention to detail. This is the reason why meditation is one of the best ways to keep you focused while working remotely.
Lessen Screen Time
Spending too much time on your devices can negatively affect your concentration. Several brain scan research findings indicate that excessive screen time can result to gray matter atrophy in the brain. In layman’s terms, it can damage the frontal lobe which is responsible for helping you get things done.
Of course, in this digital age, using computers and phones is hard to avoid. However, there are plenty of ways you can regulate your screen time. For example, you can use time blocks to allocate time for using your computer and mobile device.
Become More Observant
When you slow down and observe your environment, you’re boosting your attention to detail skills. What’s more, you’re taking a step towards better mental health. Research from the University of Amsterdam documents the many benefits of mindfulness. Some of these advantages include a lower risk of burnout and smarter decision-making.
How to Improve Your Attention to Detail in Your Professional Life
Take Breaks Regularly
We all may hit a slump—it’s our brain’s way of telling us that we need to take a rest. When you’re swamped with work, you can easily neglect your feelings and thoughts. You might not notice that you’re thirsty, but you will definitely feel that you’re losing focus. Keep in mind that you need to do the work of noticing if you want to develop your attention to detail. So, you need to build self-awareness.
One hack you can use is using time blocks to plan your day. This way, you know when you’re spending too much time on a task and when you should take a break. Doing so will help you treat breaks as part of your daily work schedule.
Split Goals into Smaller Milestones
It takes multiple steps to achieve your goals. Some of the things you want to accomplish may seem simple, but in reality, they involve a series of actions. It’s important to look at the bigger picture, but you also need to pay attention to how you can get from point A to B. By working on smaller goals, you are teaching yourself to focus on details.
Focus on One Task at a Time
Scientists at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to understand how the brain works when multitasking. The study revealed that when given two simultaneous goals, brain functionality gets divided. As a result, a person tends to forget details, increasing the chances of making mistakes.
So, if you want to focus on the details, it is best that you work on one task at a time.
If the task in front of you requires your full attention, you should silence your notifications and phone. By minimizing distractions, you are able to focus on a single task at a time.
Pro Tip: Use Traqq to Manage Your Time
If you want a better way to manage your time, you should use time tracking app – Traqq. This tool helps you strengthen your attention to detail by showing you how to get rid of time wasters. The app will monitor how you work and record how much time you spend on each task or activity. If you’ve been spending too much time checking your social media accounts, that will be reflected in the daily productivity report on Traqq. By discovering what distracts you, you’re able to develop your focus and attention to detail.
Now that you understand what attention to detail is, it’s time to put it to practice and work on improving these skills. Attention to detail is the first thing that employers look for, starting from your resume to cover letter to the interview itself. Honing your attention to details skills will get you closer to landing your dream job.