If you are looking for just about everything there is to know about the term detail-oriented, we’ve got you covered.

Having strong attention to detail can be a valuable skillset for school, interviews, and life in general. 

In this article, we will:

  • Define detail-oriented.
  • Explain how to spell detail-oriented.
  • Highlight the best detail-oriented synonyms.
  • Share the difference between detail-oriented and detail-orientated.
  • Identify key signs to tell if you are detail-oriented.
  • Provide a detail-oriented example answer specifically for an interview.

Detail-Oriented Definition

Detail-oriented is a common term used to describe oneself.

But exactly what is detail-oriented?

Since detail-oriented is considered a compound (two words), you will be hard-pressed to find the definition of detail-oriented in any dictionary.

So, let’s break down each word individually first.

Detail: Extended treatment of or attention to particular items. (Courtesy of Merriam-Webster)

Oriented: Intellectually, emotionally, or functionally directed. (Courtesy of Merriam-Webster)

Now we’ll put them together to create a simple to understand definition for the term detail-oriented.

Detail-oriented: Having the ability/urge to focus extensively on a particular thing.

Prove to yourself that you are detail-oriented and continue reading this article!

Is Detail-Oriented Hyphenated?

Yes. Detail-oriented is hyphenated.

“Detail oriented” is technically incorrect.

In the simplest terms, a hyphen’s main purpose is to glue words together. They notify the reader that two or more elements in a sentence are linked.

If for some reason you don’t like hyphens or are afraid you will forget the proper use, just use the phrase “attention to detail” instead.

There are much more technically specific rules regarding hyphens that can be found here.

Detail-Oriented Synonyms

Detail-oriented can easily become overused, especially when it comes to writing a resume.

Here are 10 great synonyms for the term detail-oriented:

  1. Accurate
  2. Attentive
  3. Comprehensive
  4. Exacting
  5. Fastidious
  6. Meticulous
  7. Precise
  8. Scrupulous
  9. Systematic
  10. Thorough

If you’d like to see more synonyms for detail-oriented, you can go here.

Detail-Oriented vs. Detail-Orientated

There seems to be a lot of debate on the internet about the difference between detail-oriented and detail-orientated.

Well, allow us to put that to rest.

Despite what some people believe, both versions are technically accepted.

In almost every dictionary, both the words oriented and orientated are defined with nearly identical meanings.

However, if you were to ask which one is better to use, 9/10 people would agree that detail-oriented is better than using detail-orientated.

Detail-oriented is the winner!

Signs You Are Detail-Oriented

One of the most detail-oriented people we know is Santa Claus.

You always hear about his list, and how he’s checking it twice. Ba-dum-tsh.

All jokes aside, detail-oriented people have been known to do the following:

  • Proofread their work
  • Recall random details
  • Match faces and voices
  • Easily read emotions
  • Sticklers on grammar
  • Ask lots of questions

While not everyone with strong attention to detail does the things above, they are definitely signs that you could be detail-oriented.

(Related: If you are looking for more words to describe yourself, check out Words to Describe Yourself in an Interview.)

Detail-Oriented Pros & Cons

When it comes to being detail-oriented, more often than not this is seen as a good thing.

But just like anything in life, too much of something good can quickly turn into something bad.

Life is about balance and being overly detail-oriented (aka perfectionist), can be seen as a negative trait by many.

Pros: Being detail-oriented means that you are likely to make fewer mistakes. Detail-oriented professionals take pride in what they do and always attempt to submit only the highest quality of work. This is definitely a positive trait in most peoples eyes.

Until it isn’t…

Cons: If you are an over-the-top perfectionist, this can come off as annoying to your peers. For example, if a report is supposed to be done by Friday, and you can’t submit it on time because it is not “perfect”, this could be seen as a detrimental attribute. Focusing on detail and being a perfectionist is typically a good thing, but some people take it too far and lose sight of the more important goals, which may include meeting a particular deadline.

Detail-Oriented Examples (Interview Question)

If you are ever asked whether or not you are detail-oriented in an interview, here’s a tip…

Say YES!

Being considered detail-oriented is more often than not a good attribute.

Being detail-oriented means that you can get things done, without a ton of mistakes.

What hiring manager doesn’t love that?

In addition to saying yes, it can help to illustrate this by telling a story.

Here’s an example of what to say when asked if you are detail-oriented:

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Are you detail-oriented?

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Absolutely. One of the things that I pride myself on is my attention to detail. Having employed contract software developers in the past, I learned quickly how important it is to be detail-oriented. If I sent over any task without clearly defining each step, there would be errors that were time-consuming and expensive to fix. I am proud to report that in the last 6-months, we haven’t had a single error to report.

Here’s another example of what you could say when asked if you are detail-oriented:

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Are you detail-oriented?

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I like to think so. Ever since I was a child, my attention to detail has been spot on. Whether it was finding a typo in class that nobody else noticed, or picking up on unique accents and remembering where it came from. I have always felt it is important to ask a lot of questions and proofread my work. While I wouldn’t say I am a “perfectionist”, because I can prioritize urgency over perfection, I do feel I have a very strong attention to detail.

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