How to answer the “What makes you stand out from the other candidates?” Interview question
When you apply for a new job, it’s probably very clear that you won’t be the only applicant trying to get the role. Unfortunately, job seeking is like a competition, you have to constantly compete with people to try and win the ‘prize’. In this case, the job in question. Employers need to know if they are choosing the right person for the job and it’s all about skills and what you can bring to the company. Employers want someone that can bring something different and that is why they ask you this question. It can be phrased as ‘What sets you apart from other candidates that have applied for this role?’ or ‘What makes you unique?’. Whichever way the interviewer phrases it, we have some advice on how to prepare and answer this popular interview question.
Why do employers like to ask this question?
This question is asking more from you than to just list your skills, there are going to be plenty of candidates that have the same skill set as you. This question focuses more on the things you value about yourself and how your own personal experiences have helped you prepare for a role like the one you are interviewing for.
This question is about you, not the other candidates. Sometimes the phrasing of the question can make you feel a bit nervous and begin to doubt yourself. But in reality, you will never meet the other candidates, so you’re better off not over thinking it and focusing on yourself. Discuss what you are good at, what you can bring and focus on positives. Talking yourself up can be difficult, but employers are looking for more than just skills. So, it’s time to have some confidence and talk about why you are the perfect candidate.
How do you prepare for this question?
The secret behind answering any interview question, is to prepare in advance. Ensure you know the job description well and the company as a whole, knowing this will help you understand what they value as a company and can help the conversation feel more natural. This way, you don’t have to memorise an answer, go with the flow and it can help you feel more comfortable.
Read the job spec – Always go through the key skills they are looking for. They give you a template of what they want from someone, so why not use it to your advantage? Link the skills described in the spec to your personal skills and experience.
Back up your claims – When you name a skill or suggest something about yourself, ensure you are giving them an explanation. The key to answering these questions is to use more than just one word, keep it open to discussion. If you say you love their brand, say why. If you say you are highly motivated, talk about why this is and what got you to where you are today.
What is valuable to you – It’s important to highlight skills that you think are valuable to the employer but talk about skills that you value in yourself as well. The interview can feel less stressful if you are honest and open about your personality and your experience. A job is something you spend a lot of time doing, so make sure you will be valued there.
What is your USP? – Everyone has something that is unique to them. Find your unique selling point and work with it. Do you have work experience that is rare to find? Do you have ideas that are valuable to the company and the role? Discuss this and anything else you think is important about your character.
Potential skills to highlight
The beauty of popular interview questions, unless very specific, is that there is no right or wrong answer. Everything is going to be tailored to you and the employer will value what you have to say. When thinking of skills to highlight, think about why you want the role as much as the skills they have listed on the description. Popular examples include:
- Organisation skills
- Highly motivated
- Love the brand / company agenda
- Your experience – maybe you have an impressive amount of experience in this sector
- Your love for the sector
You don’t have to make it complicated either. You are likely to say something that another candidate has said before, but the important thing to remember is to explain yourself. You don’t have to be one of a kind, you just have to want the role and be the one they are looking for.
You like what the company stands for – “The thing that makes me different from the other candidates applying for this role, is the dedication I have for the company already. I have been wanting to work for this company for a number of years and once a position that suited me came up, I had to give it a go. I’ve been researching this company and how you work as a team and I think I would make a good addition to this environment. My desire and motivation to work for this company and expand my knowledge and experience at the same time, is what sets me apart from the rest.”
Motivated at work – “I would say my motivation to do well at work. I am very dedicated to my own professional development and I will always be sure to give it my 100% every day I am at work. I believe that you get out of a job what you put in and I’m ready to work for a respectable company in a role that I enjoy ensuring I progress here.”
Your experience – “What makes me unique, is my years of experience in this field of work. I have had many years of experience, but I find that there is always something new to learn. I take time with my work, learn from it and am determined to make myself a better individual from it. I have had first-hand experience of the problems we are facing in the sector today and I have ideas on how I can help this company solve those problems.”