Development of a rapid approach for universal microbial detection is required in the healthcare, food and environmental sectors to aid with medical intervention, food safety and environmental protection. This research investigates the use of enzymatic hydrolysis of a substrate by a microorganism to generate a volatile organic compound (VOC). One such enzyme activity that can be used in this context is nitroreductase as such activity is prevalent across a range of microorganisms. A study was developed to evaluate a panel of 51 microorganisms of clinical interest for their nitroreductase activity. Two enzyme substrates, nitrobenzene and 1-fluoro-2-nitrobenzene, were evaluated for this purpose with evolution, after incubation, of the VOCs aniline and 2-fluoroaniline, respectively. Detection of the VOCs was done using headspace-solid phase microextraction-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-SPME-GC-MS) with obtained limits of quantitation (LOQ) of 0.17 and 0.03 µg/mL for aniline and 2-fluoroaniline, respectively. The results indicated that both enzyme substrates were reduced by the same 84.3% of microorganisms producing the corresponding volatile anilines which were detected using HS-SPME-GC-MS. It was found that nitroreductase activity could be detected after 6–8 h of incubation for the selected pathogenic bacteria investigated. This approach shows promise as a rapid universal microbial detection system.