This is the type of question many interviewers will pose as a means of gauging your work or management style. When being asked to choose only one response, you can generally assume that big-picture people would generally be considered better management material whereas a detail-oriented person would be better suited to smaller-scale projects.
Obviously, it’s important to possess both qualities to an extent, but much of what the question is asking is whether you can make a clear decision. Make sure your response satisfies both aspects of the inquiry.
Points to Emphasize
Assuming that you wish to advance to the highest possible position in your future occupation, you should seek to illustrate your big-picture focus:
- Highlight your observational skills—big-picture people usually can’t help but see everything.
- Consider discussing your planning skills and ability to multi-task to further your point.
- Use real-world examples, including evidence from work performed for previous employers.
- Describe the need for balance between the big picture and the details without riding the fence.
It’s okay to possess keen observation skills for the details, but make sure you choose one personality type and keep your response focused.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
Even though you need to make a clear choice, don’t strive to stand too far to one side of the discussion. Every big picture involves plenty of details, so you need to have both types of vision.
- Don’t suggest you’re somewhere in the middle—the question specifically asks you to choose one.
- You don’t want to ignore the smaller stuff in favor of the big picture, but your focus should be dedicated to one or the other.
- Avoid speaking as though the finer details are not worth your attention; successful managers need to possess both types of skills.
- Don’t say that your focus depends on the situation, as the question relates to your personal disposition.
You are who you are—if you’re truly detail-oriented, don’t suggest otherwise. Just keep in mind certain types of jobs are better suited to certain types of people.
Use the following example as a starting point for fashioning your own response to this question:
It’s definitely important not to lose sight of the details, but I personally see the big picture first and foremost. I’m used to recognizing opportunities on a larger scale and putting the right people and processes in place to make the greatest impact. I do enjoy having opportunity to focus on the finer details but I feel my instincts and talents are best suited to big-picture focus.
This response doesn’t disregard the details, but displays confidence and focus in one’s abilities to act at the macro level.