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Attention to Detail Tests: Avoiding Hiring Mistakes with Pre-Employment Tests


As told in Alexander Pope’s poem “To Err is Human”, people have long been aware that they are prone to making mistakes. This is particularly important for large organizations and companies that work in a highly complex business and regulatory environment.

The ability to efficiently use cognitive resources (your brain) for precision when performing work-related tasks, regardless of their size or importance, is known as “attention to detail”. Employees with strong attention to detail skills can increase their productivity, efficiency, and performance at work.

Companies naturally seek these qualities in candidates because they make them more effective in their jobs and reduce the chances of mistakes. Mistakes can equate to bigger expenses, miscommunication, and sometimes even life and death (medical sector, for example). Both public and private sectors dedicate significant resources to these often preventable mistakes.

How can these mistakes be prevented? One option is pre-employment tests, which are being utilized by the companies to screen for candidates’ attention to detail ability.

Read on to learn more about:

The Role of Attention to Detail Tests

When the term “attention to detail” is mentioned, most people think of it in its broadest sense. Being punctual, not making mistakes on a resume or cover letter, being attentive in a conversation by actively listening to your partner, avoiding multitasking, and more.

Although these examples of attention to detail are valid in a personal context, a more narrow use that businesses in the public and private sector utilize is the capacity to check for errors, cross-reference information, compare various strings of information, and more.

Although attention to detail is a skill mostly deemed necessary for clerical and administrative positions, these abilities should not be overlooked as they are equally applicable to most other positions. Minor clerical errors (such as dropped commas or a simple misspelling) might result in lost money or embarrassment for the firm and potential loss of clients.

Each year, businesses lose billions of dollars in lost productivity and missed opportunities due to poor hiring practices, such as the lack of pre-employment testing. It is projected that when there is a hiring mistake, the total cost for the business can amount to 5-20 times the annual salary for the position in question. As a consequence, businesses strive to manage their costs.

Pre-employment tests, by testing attention to detail, reduce turnover, boost team satisfaction, and reduce training time. Although attention to detail can be learned and improved, hiring managers would be wise to save time and money by hiring the finest prospects from the beginning.

How to Measure Attention to Detail

Pre-employment testing has made it possible to determine which individuals have the skills and knowledge required to succeed in a company, much earlier in the recruiting process. Attention to detail tests are ideal for any office job that requires precise management of minute details.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, attention to detail is necessary for a myriad of different positions such as customer service representatives, nurse practitioners, aviation inspectors, inventory clerks, and others. Common responsibilities include analyzing numbers/email addresses for accuracy, discovering grammatical or spelling issues in reports, creating a document or email, entering numbers on a spreadsheet or filling out a check request, and more.

Competent candidates should be able to demonstrate that they can discover data inconsistencies, spot errors in both their work and others’, and fully and accurately follow instructions.

Through a sequence of multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank questions, candidates should be able to demonstrate their level of attention to detail in real-world scenarios. While not all businesses require all of these abilities in their daily tasks, attention to detail is generally a necessary skill across all industries and government sectors.

It might be frustrating to witness newly hired employees’ lack of attention to detail. Basic mistakes like these can make a team appear inept, not only to internal staff but also to clients. Every candidate that is interviewed will claim to be meticulous, but pre-employment tests will reveal exactly what they are capable of.

Implementation of pre-employment tests is now easier than ever. With so many solutions available online, hiring managers can conduct these tests over the Internet by simply sharing a link and waiting for the potential new hire to complete it. A process like this streamlines the hiring practice, helps HR teams spot the top talent, reduces hiring mistakes, and saves business resources.

Clerical Workers in the Public Sector and Attention to Detail

The benefits of adopting pre-employment testing in hiring processes aren’t confined to privately owned businesses. The same is true in the public sector, where government agencies rely heavily on administrative tasks.

Clerical employees deal with a large volume of data in the form of spreadsheets, data entry, emails, scheduling, filing official forms and documents, etc. Without attention to detail, clerical workers would easily overlook mistakes.

Digitalization and process automation have solved numerous problems and greatly decreased the frequency of attention to detail errors, but they have not totally eliminated them.

Because all government institutions are sustained by taxpayer dollars, it’s even more critical that every dollar is used carefully. This emphasizes the need for screening for the appropriate skill set and expertise for any job role that requires meticulousness and attention to detail.

Pre-employment attention to detail tests can be beneficial because they save money by preventing hiring mistakes and increasing the productivity and efficiency of public sector personnel. Also, they are quickly implemented and don’t add time to the hiring process – a single test might take no more than 10 minutes for a candidate to complete.

Minor Errors Have a Big Impact

Paying attention to detail is a crucial skill for every professional to have, from grammatical errors that can give the impression of unprofessionalism to inaccuracies in figures and data that can lead to major mistakes. Noticing little things can have a big impact on a business or a team.

The attention to detail test successfully evaluates applicants’ abilities to analyze details by presenting candidates with tasks that require them to match or filter information, compare claims, and assess the consistency of information. The test can reveal insights about their alertness by asking candidates to identify mistakes, omissions, or inconsistencies in the material presented.

Candidates who perform well on attention to detail tests will be able to process textual and numerical data and arrive at the correct solution, without overlooking subtle nuances that can make a significant difference.

If a business wants to find candidates who are thorough in their work and take careful consideration of facts before coming to a conclusion, such a test can be made a part of the hiring process. In addition, this is a great way to check candidates’ overall analytical skills.

Transformation of the Hiring Process

Traditionally, hiring professionals were able to learn more about potential candidates from their resumes and cover letters, and interviews (if those candidates made it past the first selection round).

Most job recruiters and hiring managers have seen the phrase “attention to detail” on a resume. Candidates might claim to be “meticulous” and “detail-oriented” but merely using those words at face value can be insufficient and misleading. According to CNBC, millennials are most likely to lie on their resume to try and stand out from other candidates.

Pre-employment tests have been revolutionizing the hiring process by making it possible for hiring professionals to get more insight into potential hires and make smarter selections based on unbiased data from screening tools. The value is found in showcasing attention to detail, and then providing particular instances where having this skill helped accomplish important tasks.

Because attention to detail and work quality are frequently linked, it is considered a valuable skill that all employees should have. Managers feel more confident about avoiding hiring mistakes with powerful tools on their side to help them make better decisions based on data, rather than on the interviewer’s impression of a candidate.

Which Jobs Require Attention to Detail the Most?

Attention to detail is a skill that is needed in all sectors and all businesses. To say that one position requires this skill more than another would be faulty logic. For tasks where the repercussions of a mistake are very severe or difficult to correct, attention to detail is a critical need.

Pharmacists and nurses, for example, must be extremely careful to ensure that the details and the dosage of medication are precise, as the wrong medicine given at the wrong time might seriously harm a patient. Yet despite that being known, there have been cases where overlooked mistakes had serious consequences. Experts estimate that up to 98,000 individuals die each year as a result of medical mistakes in hospitals.

This competence may be necessary for an office or retail setting for people who manage money, sensitive documents, and delicate relations with important clients and government authorities. A personal assistant who misspells a customer’s name or scribbles down a message incorrectly may irritate a key client.

When the customer realizes their bill has been wrongly calculated – for instance, a billing clerk submitting the invoice as $5000 instead of $500 – it might cause countless hours of drama. A single word (or comma) missed by a lawyer in a hundred-page document can cost a corporation millions of dollars or a lost trial case.

In fraud detection and financial analysis, spotting minor discrepancies in data is common. Most financial professionals have highly developed attention to detail skills. Many fraud cases start with someone noticing a very minor detail that is out of place, which leads the investigator to a larger problem. If getting the details of a task incorrect costs organization time or money, employees will almost certainly need meticulous attention to detail.


Employees who are meticulous in their work can be trusted to work remotely on sensitive projects and assignments. As a result, they are incredibly significant assets for any business or government organization. Employees with strong attention to detail abilities consistently produce extremely accurate and error-free work.

Resumes are useful for getting a general idea of candidates’ talents, but according to an article on Inc.com, roughly 85% of candidates lie on their resumes. It’s not enough to just mention terms like “meticulous” and “detail-oriented.” Throughout the hiring process, potential new hires should aim to demonstrate their attention to detail skills, rather than just list them on their resume.

Pre-employment tests have made it easier for HR professionals to determine which candidates have the required skills for a position they are looking for, regardless of the sector or industry. Avoiding hiring mistakes can reduce hiring costs by 5 to 20 times. This all but guarantees cost control within the company or government agency, as well as saving money on any mistakes made by new hires who lack attention to detail.

EmployTest specializes in creating pre-employment assessments to help organizations identify top talent in their hiring pool – try a free sample of our attention to detail test to learn more about our process.