Are You Detail-Oriented? Resume & Job Interview Tips

Detail Oriented

Definition of Detail-Oriented

Detail-oriented means paying close attention to the finer details of a task, product, service or situation.

There is no official definition however, since detail-oriented isn’t in the dictionary (given that it’s two compounded words).

So, if we look at meticulous as a synonym for detailoriented, the Merriam-Webster definition is:

Marked by extreme or excessive care in the consideration or treatment of details.

So basically, being detail-oriented means paying attention to the small particulars when working on a task with a view to producing a flawless output.

Why is being Detail-Oriented when Job Searching?

It is a well known fact that recruiters and hiring managers only spend a small amount of time performing an initial review of a resume.

And often, resumes with errors such as spelling mistakes, poor grammar, or badly formatted will get rejected quickly.

So it’s important that your resume is error-free so that it passes this initial review and gives you the best chance of being invited to interview.

Traits of Detail-Oriented People

Detail-oriented or detail driven people tend to notice things that others don’t, such as:

  • Poor spelling and grammar. This can be a big irritation for detail-oriented people, given that we tend to be reading some form of text on a daily basis!
  • Things moved out of place, such as objects or furniture around the house.
  • How people dress – what shoes, accessories, make-up, etc. that other people are wearing. They also pay attention to how they dress themselves.
  • Small changes in body language that may give away clues on how others are feeling or responding.

Detail-oriented people also tend to do the following things:

  • Proof-read their work, and that of others, often multiple times to check for any mistakes or opportunities to improve.
  • Ask lots of questions to make sure they fully understand a topic.
  • Notice the body language and social cues of the people they interact with.
  • Organize their work and their daily schedule.
  • Write things down so they don’t forget.
  • Prepare in advance, for meetings, calls and presentations – and of course, for interviews!

Strengths and Weaknesses of Being Detail-Oriented

Like anything, there are upsides and downsides to being detail-oriented or detail driven:


Generally speaking, detail-oriented people tend to do things better. The quality of their work is higher, and they operate to a higher standard than others.

Detail-oriented people:

  • Make fewer errors, and spot errors made by others. This saves time and money by avoiding re-work, customer returns, etc.
  • Produce higher quality outputs, operating to a higher standard and pushing others to the same level.
  • Tend to plan better, considering all requirements and eventualities.
  • Spot patterns or opportunities.
  • Often manage finances well.
  • Being on time for meetings, calls and events.

This can mean that they help organisations save time and money, protect their reputation and brand, and identify opportunities to grow and expand.

Being detail-oriented is often perceived as being a strength by prospective employers.


Paying too much attention to detail can also have its drawbacks. For example, a detail-oriented person:

  • Tends to be too much of a perfectionist, resulting in work taking longer to complete.
  • May over-focus on tasks to the point of complication.
  • Can alienate colleagues by focusing on semantic details, and missing out on emotional aspects of inter-personal relationships.
  • May suffer from anxiety and stress (mental and physical) when their high standards are not met, including panic attacks, insomnia, depression, high blood pressure.
  • Can fail to see the bigger picture or the greater problem because they are too focused on specific details of their immediate task.

Tips for Improving your Detail-Oriented Skills

Whilst being detail driven is often a natural character trait, there are ways you can improve your detail-oriented skills:

  • Organize your daily routine in advance so that you have a schedule to stick to.
  • Maintain a consistent routine.
  • Minimize distractions whilst working on a task or project.
  • Actively take care of your mental and physical health to help concentration.

Detail-Oriented Jobs

As with any skill set or personality trait, there are jobs and careers (Job Vs Career – what’s the difference?) that may be a better fit than others.

  • Research – medical, scientific.
  • Accounting / Finance.
  • Data analysis.
  • Proof-reading or editing.

How to Demonstrate that you are Detail-Oriented on your Resume

Either you know that having great attention to detail is a great skill for many occupations, or the job you’re applying for specifically states that as a requirement. So you write ‘great attention to detail’, ‘detail-oriented’ or ‘detail driven’ on your resume.

But how do you actually demonstrate that is a true statement?

Your Resume

The first and most obvious example is your resume itself.

If you are claiming to have great attention to detail, but your resume has typos, spelling or grammar mistakes, or is not well formatted, then you just demonstrated that you don’t have attention to detail.

Bad start.

So make sure your resume is immaculate. Completely flawless.

Specific Examples

Then you need to show, not just tell, how you are detail-oriented through descriptions of specific examples.

Now you don’t have too much space on your resume (see how long your resume should be), and there are other skills you are trying to showcase, so you can’t give too much information – save that for the interview.

But you can give some specific examples such as:

  • When you have edited, reviewed, checked or proof-read the work of other people and made corrections / improvements.
  • Working with numbers or data, and how you had to pay attention to the detail in order to avoid mistakes and get accurate results.
  • Creating or following specific instructions where it is important to get every step of a process correct.

Detail-Oriented Interview Question and Answer Examples

In a job interview you may be asked if you are detail oriented, or if you pay attention to detail, and you need to be able to give a convincing answer to demonstrate that. Simply answering ‘yes’ to the question will not cut it.

So how do you demonstrate that you are detail oriented?

Giving specific examples from your work experience is a good start.

Example 1

For example, you could explain how, in a previous role, you spotted a mistake in a sales document, or a contract, or a process flow, or an instruction manual.

Then explain how you went about correcting that mistake. Did you feedback to the document owner? Did you change it yourself? Talk through what you did to fix the error.

Then, to cap things off, explain how that benefited the company. And to further demonstrate that you’re detail-oriented, give specific details about how your work benefited the company in your answer.

For example:

“In my current role I spotted a mistake in the inventory documentation that would’ve resulted in 500 incorrect orders being shipped at a cost of $50k.”

Example 2

An alternative approach is to give a real-time example that your interviewer can directly relate to, and that they can actually see themselves (rather than having to take your word on a previous employment example).

What do we mean by that?

Well, imagine your interview asks ‘Are you detail-oriented?’ and you can respond with something like:

“Yes. The receptionist I spoke to when entering the building is called Matthew, and he was wearing a dark blue suit, with a white shirt and a yellow tie. On the coffee table in reception, there is a copy of the Financial Times, and the June edition of the industry magazine.”


Now that’s something that will have a powerful effect. Within a short space of time you’ve managed to take in and retain lots of detailed information about your new environment.

And your interview can directly relate to and understand your answer.

They know the receptionist is called Matthew. And even if they don’t know what color tie he’s wearing they can easily go check for themselves after the interview.

That’s powerful stuff.

If you can then follow on with an answer such as Example 1, you will have given an excellent response to this interview question.

Detail-Oriented Synonyms

  • Attention to detail
  • Accurate
  • Particular
  • Precise
  • Analytic
  • All-inclusive
  • Attentive
  • Systematic
  • Exacting
  • Comprehensive
  • Meticulous
  • Diagnostic

Detail-Oriented or Detail Oriented? Is there a Hyphen?

The potential irony in writing on your resume that you are detail-oriented would be getting it wrong grammatically.

Without going into too much grammatical detail, two words that function together as a single adjective (i.e. the words detail and oriented) formwhat is called a ‘compound modifier’.

If a ‘compound modifier’ is used in a sentence before the noun that it’s describing, then it is hyphenated. For example:

I am a detail-oriented person.

If a ‘compound modifier’ is used in a sentence after the noun that it’s describing, then it is not hyphenated. For example:

That person is detail oriented.

So make sure you get it right to avoid disproving your own claim that you are a detail-oriented person!

See what have to say about the use of hyphens generally.

Common Mistakes


Whilst not strictly a mistake, using orientated instead of oriented will generally raise some eyebrows.

Whilst orientated is slightly more common in British English than it is in American English, it is still very uncommon compared to the use of oriented.

There is a great explanation on


Detailed-oriented is just flat out incorrect, so should never be used.