3 Ways to Answer This Interview Question

I’m sure that at some point in your life you’ve been asked this uncomfortable question during an interview – “What Makes You Unique or different from other candidates?”.  

And then … you scramble to think of reasons that set you apart from the crowd without looking like you’re overselling yourself. This question is highly agonizing but unfortunately one of the most commonly asked during a job interview.  

So how exactly do you find the sweet spot for answering this question without sounding too pretentious? Well, take notes, I’m here to guide you.  

1. Mention one of Your Best Personality Traits

While your qualifications might not be good enough for you to stand out from the crowd, your personality definitely can. Everyone is unique in their own way and you can never have two people of the same personality working in one company. Use this to your advantage.  

There was once when I was applying for a social-related journalism job when I was asked this question. Considering that the job required me to liaise with Singaporeans and their unique stories, I knew that I would have to highlight my strength in communication and building relationships with people.  

In my answer, I foregrounded my ability to quickly form relationships with people and my strength in getting them to feel comfortable enough to open up to me. With this personality trait that I brought up; I also gave sufficient evidence to back up my story. I shared with them 2 other video-interview projects that I had done before, where I made the talent feel comfortable enough to share their unfiltered opinions on camera (both of them actually teared on camera!).  

I managed to hit the right spot with my employers. In social news related companies, employers look for interesting and raw stories to share for their audience. Being able to capture raw and unfiltered moments is what sells in this industry. By mentioning this personality trait, I am proving to my employers that I am very suitable for the role and exactly what they need in their employee.  

While this is just my example, there are several other personality traits that you can highlight based on your own life and prospective jobs too! For example, if you’re looking to land a manager or leadership position, it would be wise to highlight the personality traits that display your qualities as a leader.  

2. Highlight Your Past Experiences

Again, everyone goes through different experiences and this could be the unique selling point about you. For example, if you’re shifting from one marketing agency to another, highlight the positive experiences you’ve had in your previous company and the new skills you’ve learnt from there that would be useful to your new company.  

One of my friends Jayna did exactly this for an interview. She had previously worked in a marketing agency and helped the company fully utilize social media as a marketing platform. One of the more outstanding projects that she embarked on was creating a Tiktok account for the company.  

This venture proved to be highly successful as several of the company’s videos went viral on Tiktok and helped the company gain a steady stream of customers through this social media page. My friend brought up this experience and phrased it in a manner that highlighted not only her marketing capabilities but her skills in production as well. After providing this example, she also shared about how the experience would be useful for the new company as she could also use the social media marketing skills to gain customers for the company.  

In this sense, using how your past experiences have shaped and refined you is a great way to sell yourself without sounding over the top. But, don’t forget to share how these experiences have given you transferable skills that you can use in the new company as well.  

3. Talk about How You Can Contribute to the Company

The question essentially asks you to stand out from the crowd and explain how exactly you could contribute to the company – so make sure you include this in your answer. Use either your experiences or your personality traits to explain how exactly you will be beneficial to the company’s growth. The bonus tip would be to add in your own plans for the company.  

One of my friends was asked this question, to which she explained how she was a forward thinker and a meticulous planner. She went ahead to explain how in her previous company, her foresight made projects run smoother and helped the company gain substantial clients. After talking about her experience and personality traits, she included how this would help her new company. She quickly stated a brief one-year plan for her role if she were to be hired. The interviewers were so impressed by her response that she was hired within 2 hours after the interview!  

When you’re asked this question, keep in mind that you should also turn it around to show how you would be beneficial to the company.

Check out our career guidance page for more useful lifestyle and career tips!   

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