Picture this… after spending the last six months applying for random jobs that you’re not really interested in, you finally find the position you’ve been waiting for. Your great resume and your killer cover letter will get you to the interview stage.
But, you need to be aware that there are some recurrent questions that are crucial to answer well if you want to increase your chances of getting hired. Therefore, I decided to go through one of the most common ones, which often leaves the candidate speechless.
Do you know How To Answer “What Makes You Unique?” If not, let’s find the perfect answer…
- Alternative Questions That Mean Exactly The Same Thing
- What Are They Really Asking You?
- The Same Question For Everyone
- What You Should Say?
- Common Mistakes
- “What Makes You Unique?” – The Best Answer
- What About All The Other Questions They Will Ask?
- Final Thoughts
Alternative Questions That Mean Exactly The Same Thing
The first thing to know when talking about How To Answer “What Makes You Unique?” is that, to be honest with you, I’ve never been asked what makes me unique at a job interview. And the chances are that you, too, never will.
So why should we consider it a common question?
And why is it so important anyway?
Because even if the recruiters don’t use the exact words, they might ask you the same thing using slightly different words. The great news is that once you’ve got your answer ready, you can use it to reply to any of the following questions:
- Why should we hire you?
- Why do you think you’re the best candidate?
- What’s your best quality?
- What’s your greatest strength?
Why does the same answer always work?
Because the information that the interviewer wants to know from you is always the same.
So, let’s find out what it is…
What Are They Really Asking You?
When recruiters ask you what makes you unique, they are not interested in what you do in your everyday life. They don’t want to know what makes you different from your friends or family.
They want you to talk about why you consider yourself the best candidate for the job and what makes you stand out from any other job applicant.
They also want to know if you’re aware of your best qualities and see if they match the job requirements. And lastly, they want to understand how much you know about the company.
If your answer is not relevant to the job, you’re telling them that you don’t know anything about the position. So how can they trust you when you tell them that you’re a good fit for that job if you don’t even know what it is about?
The Same Question For Everyone
To be able to compare the different applicants and decide which one is more suitable for the position, most recruiters ask the same questions to all of them.
So when they ask you ” What Makes You Unique,” it’s almost guaranteed that everyone else has or been in the same position. This could therefore be seen as a fantastic opportunity that can give you a clear edge over other job candidates.
The interviewers will be so bored of hearing the same predictable answers that they will be ready to give the job to somebody who comes up with an excellent reply.
Therefore, this is the perfect question to make you stand out, and it will be your chance to shine.
How can you do that? Let’s find out…
What You Should Say?
As you prepare for any question that might come up during an interview, you need to be aware of what you should say and, equally important, what you shouldn’t say. Let’s start with what you should tell them…
Focus on The Job Requirements
If you made it to the interview, you’ve probably already studied the job requirements before you wrote your cover letter.
It’s now time to look at them again. They will be the fundamental blocks on which you will build your answer.
The best strategy…
Read them carefully and pick up to three of them that match your qualities. This is exactly what the recruiters mean by unique.
You have to be able to show them that among all the candidates, you are the only one (or the best one) that can meet the requirements that are specific to that job. This will make you unique!
If you manage to do that, you’ll be on your way to sign the contract.
Make Your Answer Highly Relevant To The Job
Whatever you’re going to say, make sure that it completely correlates with the job you’re interviewing for.
If one of the requirements is the ability to perform under pressure, don’t start to talk about your basketball college career. Well, unless you’re applying for a basketball-related job.
Ok, so what do they really want here?
They want to understand how your capacity to work under pressure can benefit the company if they decide to hire you.
Provide Examples From Your Professional Career
This is a crucial passage that can prove to the recruitment team that what they’re hearing is not just nice words.
How to get that right?
Think about a situation in your past when you have demonstrated having that uniqueness that you’re talking about. If you’re a fresh graduate without working experience, it’s perfectly fine to mention episodes from your educational career.
The more specific you can be, the better. Build a compelling story where you describe the situation; you define what the task was, how you acted, and what was the result of your actions.
This is known as the STAR method…
And it’s a method that works perfectly for almost every question in a job interview.
Practice it in front of the mirror, paying attention to your body language. Try to be as natural and as confident as possible, without sounding like you’re repeating a script that you have learned.
Now that you understand what to include in your answer, let’s take a look at a few common mistakes that could immediately reduce your chances to zero.
Avoid General Answers
Among all candidates, the majority of them will be completely unprepared to answer “What Makes You Unique?”.
Let’s forget about those that will reply with something completely useless like” I can eat ten pizzas in one sitting,” and let’s focus on those that at least try to give a professional answer.
What will most of them say?
“I’m a hard worker.”
I can’t think of a worse reply. First of all, this is a completely basic requirement for any job, and therefore, even if it’s true, it doesn’t make you unique. Secondly, it’s too generic an answer. It lacks any explanation, and it’s not specifically relevant to the job.
Lastly, the recruiters hear it a million times and never give the job to that person.
Don’t Talk About Your Personal Life
I’ve already mentioned this, but it’s important to reiterate that the weird habits that make you unique in your everyday life will not help in any way in this situation.
Still, sometimes people feel like it’s a good idea to add some personal detail during a job interview because this will create a deeper connection with the recruiter.
You’re wasting precious time that could be used to show how skilled you are. The recruiter might appreciate that funny story and genuinely compliment them, but it’s unlikely that it will get them the job.
It’s Ok To Brag, But Don’t Overdo
Since the whole point of this question is to talk about what you can do better than anybody else, it’s perfectly fine if you sound like you’re showing off a bit.
But there’s a subtle limit between being confident, which is what they’re looking for, and being arrogant.
Here’s an example…
“I’m very good at learning new things quickly. I know this job will require an intense training process, and as I already proved when I was working at….”
“I’m so good at learning new things that after the training process, I’ll be better than any other employee you ever had.”
Don’t Go Off The Rails
It’s too easy to lose focus on the critical things with a question like this one. Even when we know exactly what to say, we often tend to add unnecessary details in an attempt to impress the recruiter.
What to do instead?
Go straight to the point, keep your answer relatively short, and once you’ve said everything you’ve prepared, smile and wait for the next question.
The more useless information you add, the greater the chance that the interviewer will forget how good your answer was in the first place.
Don’t Fall Into The Trap of Speaking Poorly of The Other Candidates
This is a relatively common yet unforgivable mistake. It often happens when the question is asked in a slightly different way, such as, “What makes you better than the other candidates?”
Keep focusing on your positive qualities instead of comparing yourself to others. The recruiters will interview everyone, and they already have their resume, so comparing you with them will be their job.
What not to do…
Let’s see what a wrong answer looks like:
“While I was waiting for the interview, I had the chance to talk with many of them, and I realized how much more qualified I am.”
This is what you could say instead:
“During my five years at (name of the company), I gained invaluable experience in the position of….”
The two answers are basically saying the same thing, but the second doesn’t even mention the other applicants.
“What Makes You Unique?” – The Best Answer
It’s now time to put all this information together and give you an example of a compelling answer from start to finish. Use it to get an idea of how you can structure your reply.
Suppose you apply for Restaurant Manager; you need to:
- Make your initial statement
“I believe that what makes me unique is my ability to quickly detect and resolve conflicts before they escalate.”
- Relate it to the job
“Through my research, I noticed that this is also one of the main skills required to apply for this position.”
- Give an example
“Three years ago, when I was working at (name of the restaurant), I noticed that there was some tension between the new Head Chef and the Sous Chef. I knew I had to take action before the situation would get worse.
On these occasions, the problem always comes from a lack of communication. Therefore my job was to give them the chance to freely express their feelings. Therefore, I took them out for dinner on our day off and let them have an open discussion about the underlying problem, which turned out to be a single incident of miscommunication.
And now for your punchline…
From that day, they have been working together without any issue, and the kitchen has been quicker and more efficient than ever.”
What About All The Other Questions They Will Ask?
Have no fear! I have created in-depth guides to effectively answering all common interview questions. Read about Answering Tell Me About Yourself in Interview, responding well to Why Do You Want to Work Here, and blowing them away with your answer to Why We Should Hire You in 2023.
If you’re interviewing with a major outlet, we also have a database full of interview questions to expect per company! Everything from Cheesecake Factory Interview Questions, Kmart Interview Questions, to Bed Bath and Beyond Interview Questions and Aeropostale Interview Questions. Simply search our site to check!
Back to today’s guide…
Knowing How To Answer “What Makes You Unique?” is imperative for everyone who wants to be fully prepared for a job interview. As we have seen, the question might come in various forms. But if you know what the recruiters mean, it will make no difference.
Like any other question that they could ask you, it’s essential to leave your personal life aside and to focus only on your professional career and the position you’re applying for. If you manage to show them that your uniqueness is strictly relevant to the job, your chances of getting hired should go through the roof.