How To Answer What Makes You Unique
Maybe you’re someone who can brush your teeth and comb your hair at the same time. But that’s not what the Hiring Manager wants to hear when he asks you “What makes you unique?”
This question is an opportunity for you to stake your claim for the job and share the unique skills, abilities, and experiences that differentiate you from the other candidates and make you the best fit, and the right choice for the position.
Another way to view this question is the Hiring Manager asking you “Why should we hire you and not someone else?”
If you’re not prepared for the question, you might end up having an uncomfortable moment on the interview chair. With the proper answer, you’ll make a positive impression on the job interviewer and move closer to your goal of getting hired.
How To Answer The Question “What Makes You Unique?”
You might be asking yourself “How can I differentiate myself from others if I don’t know what their qualifications are?”
And that’s a good question!
The answer is to not focus on anyone else except yourself. Identifying the skill sets, abilities, and experiences that make you unique is based on what the company requires for someone who’s accepted for the position.
Thus, your answer to what makes you unique must be customized to what the company needs.
Before you come up with your answer to this question, here are a few things we want you to do:
- Review the Job Description Carefully – What are the duties and responsibilities of the position? Did the company list the scope of work or the targets/goals to be assigned to the person who will be hired?Write these tasks down on a piece of paper or type them under a column on a spreadsheet.
- Assess Your Current Work Experience and Skill Sets – Do you possess all or most of the qualifications for the job? Do you have previous experience that best exemplifies your unique traits?List down these skills and experiences on the same spreadsheet but opposite the job duties and responsibilities column. Are your skills and experiences relevant to the job you’re applying for?
- What Are Your Most Defining Personality Traits? – Identify at least 3 personality traits that best describe who you are and your approach to work.You can refer to these traits as your core values but they must be non-negotiable. This means that regardless of the situation, your decision will always be influenced by these values.
- How Do Your Peers/Co-Workers Perceive Your Most Identifiable Personality Traits? – Oftentimes, our peers/co-workers perceive us differently from how we perceive ourselves.For example, you might think working during the weekends is a sign of hard work but your co-workers might think you’re not focused on quality.
With those tips in mind, here are 5 ways you can answer the question “What makes you unique?”
Share an Experience When You Were Self-Employed
This is a proven effective tip, especially for those who are fresh out of college or those looking for their first job!
Sure, recruiters will value work experience because it shows you have applied what you’ve learned in school and knows what it’s like to function in a workplace environment.
However, self-employed work experience is also valuable because it implies having a sense of responsibility, and maturity, and being exposed to opportunities to generate income while interacting with different people.
“What makes me unique is that I have self-employed work experience. When I was in college, I worked as a freelance web designer. I did this not only to support myself financially throughout college but also to gain experience working with more experienced and talented web designers, developers, graphic designers, and digital marketers.
“My advantage over other candidates for this position is that I have better business acumen having worked directly with business owners and as a freelancer, I was running my own enterprise. I know what it’s like to run a business and how important it is to stay profitable by streamlining costs and managing income.
“Thus, you can expect that I have a better understanding of the value of time and productivity.”
Identify a Core Value That Aligns With the Goals of the Company
The job applicants who got invited for the interview are the ones whose resumes impressed the recruiter the most. But HR professionals know that the true test of a candidate’s technical skills or abilities is the workplace.
The challenge for HR is to hire a candidate who’s not only qualified in terms of technical skills but also has the personality that’s an ideal fit for the company’s culture.
If you’re applying for the Warehouse Manager job, it’s not enough that you’re knowledgeable with Inventory Management Systems, Logistics Management, Supply Chain Management, and Operations Management.
Let’s assume that the company you’re applying for needs a Warehouse Manager who’s great at optimizing the potential of his personnel. Which unique traits do you have that will convince the Hiring Manager to hire you over anyone else?
“Warehousing operations are automated. But in my experience, the success of the warehouse isn’t based on whether the facility is built with the latest technologies. These machines are run by people. The sensitive areas of operation are run by people.
“Therefore, to run a productive warehouse operation, the Warehouse Manager must have great interpersonal and communication skills, is an effective motivator, and is a strong believer in the value of teamwork.
“These are the skills that make me unique over others because my success as a Warehouse Manager the last 7 years is rooted in my ability to get the most out of the people who work not for me, but with me.”
Cite An Example That Highlights Your Unique Value Proposition
“I’m hard-working, dedicated, and committed.”
“I deliver results on a consistent basis.”
“I take on all challenges. When the supervisor gives me a new task, I think, ‘bring it on!’”
HR professionals who preside over the job interview have heard it all. Many of the unique skills and abilities have started to sound cliche.
To get the interest of the Hiring Manager, cite an actual example of an experience that best highlights your claimed unique value proposition.
“In my line of work as a Safety Engineer, you can’t take chances. I believe the qualities that make me stand out from others are my high degree of attention to detail, creative thinking, and being results-oriented.
“Years ago, a food tenant at the Landisville Mall complained of the dining area smelling like gas. I asked the manager to shut down the operation immediately so my team could do a thorough inspection. My engineers checked the gas line and everything was secured.
“However, I remembered there was an earthquake a week earlier and there might have been structural damage. I had my engineers dismantle the lighting fixtures that adorned the pillars of the restaurant. That’s when we saw the cracks on the wall and uncovered the damaged gas lines.
“It took an entire day to replace the lines. We also asked the tenant to move the lighting displays to another area that’s far removed from the gas lines.”
Find Relevance With Your Previous Work Experience
You want to apply for the position of Sales Executive but your previous work experience was as a Market Researcher for an equities company.
These jobs seem ideal for people with unrelated skills.
A Sales Executive position is best suited for someone who enjoys being on the field, meeting people, and responding to product/service inquiries. Market Research seems to fit those who prefer solitude, going through studies, conducting tests, and documenting results.
How can an introverted Market Researcher fit the role of an extroverted Sales Executive and get hired for the job?
The answer is to find relevance between your previous experience and the job you’re applying to.
“As a Market Researcher for an equities company, I was updated on changes in trends in various industries. I knew the causes of changes in demand and consumer preferences for certain products and services. To validate my studies, I would conduct interviews and surveys with a random sampling of targeted market segments.
“My research work on the market for household pest control products gave me helpful insights into why consumers started to patronize non-aerosol products more. The knowledge was a light bulb moment because I knew why the household consumer products market has been sluggish.
“Your company manufactures pest control products that are applied, situated, and activated but not sprayed. In the last few years, your company has shown sluggish growth. If you hire me as a Sales Executive, I know how to realign your sales strategies to give your company significant growth in revenue and a bigger slice of the industry pie.”
Cite a Skill That’s Not Required For the Position
A standard tip in resume writing is to keep it relevant. This means that all of the information stated on your resume must be relevant to the job you’re applying for. While this is correct, the job interview allows you to bend this rule a bit.
“If you hire me as an Insurance Agent, you’ll realize that what makes me more effective than other candidates is my certification in personal fitness training. I’m certified by the American Council on Exercise (ACE) and this has put me in a position to best discuss the importance of acquiring health insurance for even the fittest people on the planet.
“While exercise does improve health and the quality of life, doing too much or too little, and incorrect exercise programming can do more harm than good. For example, did you know that strength training has been proven to reduce the risk of early death by 65% – much higher than cardio?
“Not many people know that and push too hard in cardio resulting in compromised immune systems. As a licensed PT, I know which plans your clients should get.”
The person who gets hired is the person who best marketed and promoted his best qualities – the ones that the Hiring Manager felt fit the needs of the company.
If we can compare the resume to your marketing brochure, the job interview as the sales pitch, then your response to the question, “What makes you unique?” is your UVP – Unique Value Proposition.
The skills, experiences, or personality traits you share must convince the Hiring Manager that hiring you will give the company greater value over any other candidate.
Discover other job interview questions and how to answer them
- How to answer tell me about yourself
- How to answer what are your weaknesses
- How to answer why do you want to work here
- How to answer salary expectations
- How to answer why should we hire you
- How to answer why are you interested in this position
- How to answer what is your greatest weakness
- How to answer what are your strengths
- How to answer behavioral interview questions
- How to answer what areas need improvement