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How To Answer “What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates?”

Some interviewers like to ask what you may see as awkward questions. A small percentage may try and catch you out. Giving you a tricky question that it is never easy to give a full answer to.

For example, you may need to take a minute to think about How To Answer “What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates?”.

And that’s just one of the awkward questions; there are others as well, such as:

  • What makes you think you are unique?
  • What will you bring to this position?

what sets you apart from other candidates

It’s a Relevant Question

Despite occasionally being used to trip you up, what sets you apart from other candidates is a reasonable question. And they may ask you it for two reasons.

Confidence

They may see it as a test of your confidence. If you can answer that question clearly, without appearing condescending and in a confident manner, it may help your application.

This is because the position you’re applying for may well include contact with clients and the public. The company needs you to demonstrate certain skills. They need to see you in action rather than just taking a chance on you. So questions like this put you on the spot a bit. They demand a reply, and in that reply, the interviewer can measure your self-confidence.

Company Knowledge

Just coming up with an answer that is lacking in direction or positivity won’t be enough. If you’ve done a bit of research into the company, it might. If you have an idea of what skills the job in question requires, and what your success may depend on, you can answer.

The interviewer is bound to look favorably on a candidate who has done a little bit of homework about the position and the company. But there are some other things you can talk about that will answer this question. Let’s look at them.

what sets you apart from other candidate

Key Things You Can Do

Pre-Interview Research

I have mentioned it already, but I cannot emphasize this enough. It serves two functions. It gives you a clearer picture of the company and also about the position. But it will also allow you to take what experience you may have gained and relate it to the position.

How does your experience apply? As I said, the research will allow you to relate your own experience to the job. This is an important point when you are trying to answer the ‘what sets you apart’ question.

For example, do any of your previous activities mirror what the new company needs?

This could be a variety of activities, even down to software packages you are familiar with. If, as an example, the position involved requires the use of spreadsheets. If you know the specific package that will ‘set you apart’ from a candidate who doesn’t. It could also be reading a balance sheet if you might be applying for a marketing role; in some companies, that will be important.

Be Relevant

When you are discussing yourself and what you can bring to a company, it is very important to stay relevant. Therefore, only discuss things that are relevant to the position or the company as a whole. Professional work and experiences that are business-related are important to get across. Which football team you support isn’t.

Be Positive

Be positive about your work-related experiences, especially those that may apply to your position. And don’t be afraid to mention other specialist skills that you have acquired. You won’t know everything about this position, and something in your work experience might be relevant.

While it is helpful to show confidence, don’t go too far with it. That can sometimes have a detrimental effect on the interview.

what set you apart from other candidate

Sample Answers

It would be nice to be able to give some sample answers. However, that is futile for a couple of reasons. Firstly because you don’t know if you will actually be asked the question. Secondly because in what environment would the questions and the potential answers be asked?

I have absolutely no idea what position you might be applying for or even what segment of the industry you would like to work in. Therefore, it is impossible to set answers to the question? So, simply adhere to the guidelines I have discussed.

Some Things To Avoid

Treat the question with some respect. The majority of interviewees will be asking it for a reason. You must avoid trying to give a clever answer. You might think yourself clever. The interviewer probably won’t.

Don’t Go Over The Top

When discussing your strengths and how you might be more suitable than other candidates, don’t go too far. It’s one thing to be confident about things you have done and achieved. It is another to start spouting off about how wonderful you are.

Unfortunately, I have heard some say this is becoming a common fault. It isn’t a problem for the interviewer. They will probably see straight through you and just say “Thanks for coming” as they show you out.

Be positive, and don’t be afraid to speak up about any knowledge you may have that is relevant. But there is that thing called modesty. A far more endearing character trait than anything the ‘big shot’ offers.

Some Interview Shopping!

If you’re going for interviews, you do need to look your best. Here are some things that may help.

A quality attached case always goes down well at an interview; I would recommend the Tassia Luxury Leather Executive Case Attache Briefcase. And if you are asked to sign something, a prestigious pen gives a good impression; for a quality affordable option, go for the Parker IM Fountain Pen.

And just in case it is raining, the last thing you want is to arrive looking like a drowned rat, so get yourself a decent umbrella, such as the Lilyxin Premium Automatic Compact Umbrella Windproof, to make sure you look your best and dryest!

Need More Interview Info And Advice?

Firstly, let’s help you prepare for some additional interviews questions with my guides on how to answer them. Just check out my Answer Why Best Candidate Position, How Would You Describe Yourself, What Are Your Career Goals, What Are You Most Proud Of, How Do You Handle Stress, How Do You Handle Conflict, or even the Best Questions To Ask In An Interview to help you get started.

Secondly, we’ve done some research and found the Amazing Interview Answers: 44 Tough Job Interview Questions with 88 Winning Answers, the Hiring Squirrels: 12 Essential Interview Questions to Uncover Great Retail Sales Talent online books.

Or why not take a look at the Get That Job!: The Quick and Complete Guide to a Winning Interview, INTERVIEW with DESIRE and GET HIRED!: How to Ace the Interview, Sell Yourself & Get Your Dream Job, as well as How to Answer Interview Questions: 101 Tough Interview Questions all available online in 2022.

Final Thoughts

It wouldn’t hurt to think about the answer in advance in case the question is asked. And then practice what you might say. It mustn’t feel like it is coming from a script, repeated per se. That will sound false and is easy to see through.

But things rarely come out the way you want them the first time around. Five minutes of answer practice wouldn’t hurt on the day before you go.

All the very best with your Interview!

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About Wendy Young

Wendy runs an employment agency with her husband, Ian, in Rochester, New York.

She loves nothing more than hosting a good dinner party and spends weeks intricately planning her next 'event.' She often uses these to introduce clients to potential employers in a relaxed, informal fashion. The food must be delicious, the cocktails and wine must be a perfect match, and the decor needs to impress without being over the top. With all that going on, it's amazing that she gets any time to write about her thoughts on securing the dream job.

They live on the outskirts of New York with their poodle, Princess.

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