Attention to detail refers to a person’s behavioural tendency towards thoroughness, accuracy, and consistency when accomplishing tasks. It's a core competency that's often included in a CV or selection criteria.
For example, when drafting documents, employees with exceptional attention to detail will do their best to avoid spelling errors, avoid internal inconsistencies, and relay all vital information that the document requires.
Attention to detail is essential to performance in any role where errors can be costly to the employing organisation. For example, suppose an accountant accidentally lists the wrong figure on a large invoice. In that case, this could result in tangible financial losses for the organisation and may cause significant embarrassment in front of a supplier or customer.
A lack of attention to detail could result in poorly written contracts, policies, and procedures, which leaves the organisation vulnerable to legal challenges in more senior roles.
Attention to detail is a common performance criterion for highly processual work or roles with a qualitative focus. Generally, positions that involve adherence to strict processes and involve a great deal of writing most commonly require staff to show excellent attention to detail and will be most negatively impacted when their staff display negligence.
Having this ability ensures that employees work to a high standard and minimises the amount of supervision that employees require, as employers can have confidence in their workforce’s ability to avoid errors.
It is a standard core competency, and hiring managers often seek candidates that express excellent attention to detail.