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  3. So your interviewer wants to know what makes you unique? Here’s how to answer this question
So your interviewer wants to know what makes you unique? Here’s how to answer this question

So your interviewer wants to know what makes you unique? Here’s how to answer this question

Artwork by: Pablo Cammello

  • What makes you stand out?
  • Refer to your previous job roles
  • Think about what your employer is looking for
  • Focus on your most prominent traits 
  • 6 Traits to focus on when answering “What makes you unique?”
  • 1. Effective communication skills
  • 2. Aptitude for learning
  • 3. Ability to take calculated risks
  • 4. General approachability 
  • 5. Technical proficiency
  • 6. Work ethic
  • What makes you unique answer examples
  • Key takeaways

During a job interview, your interviewer is likely to ask you questions on what sets you apart from the other applicants. Read on to learn more about how to respond to this question.

A job interview is an opportunity for your potential employer to learn more about you. The interviewer not only wants to know whether you’d make a good fit, but they’re also curious to know what makes you unique. After all, the ‘ideal’ candidate in their view must have a number of skills and personality traits that would make them a solid addition to the team.

In this blog post, we’ll take a deep dive into:

  • What makes you unique?

  • How to answer the “what makes you unique” interview question

What makes you stand out?

When an employer wants to know what makes you unique, the last thing they’re expecting is an insight into your quirks or odd habits. As harmless and casual as this question sounds, the hiring manager really wants to know whether you have the right attitude and temperament for the job. 

While every individual is unique and has different strengths and weaknesses, there are a couple of traits that could potentially help you stand out in a job interview. These traits are typically associated with the job role itself. For example, if you’re applying for an accountant job, your employer is likely to expect you to have excellent mathematical and analytical skills, as well as a strong attention to detail.

If you’re having a difficult time determining what makes you unique, here are a few tips to help you out.

Refer to your previous job roles

If you’ve previously worked at other organizations, then this could be a good starting point for some self-reflection. Think about a particular situation at a previous job where you received praise from your supervisor and colleagues. What did you do right? What skills/traits enabled you to achieve the desired result? 

For example, you may have worked as a customer support representative and you were able to handle an escalation. In this case, your unique trait might be your ability to sense when a customer is getting irritated and quickly using your conflict-resolution skills to diffuse the situation. 

Think about what your employer is looking for

In most cases, hiring managers look for individuals with specific skills and ideas that will enable the company to achieve its long-term goals. For this reason, it’s important to review the job description carefully, understand the challenges the company is expecting the new hire to solve, and then try to align your skills and strengths with the issue that company is trying to navigate.

For instance, if a company needs someone to lead a team of engineers, you should consider mentioning your ability to motivate others, improve productivity, and successfully liaise between technical and non-technical departments.

Focus on your most prominent traits 

At some point in your life, you must’ve been complimented by your friends and family members for certain skills and traits. If that’s the case, then think about what those skills were and how you can use them to succeed in your new job role.

For example, your friends and peers may have praised your patience and dedication. When you’re in a job interview, you could use this information to talk about your ability to remain calm, composed, and focused even in challenging situations or when faced with tight deadlines at work.

6 Traits to focus on when answering “What makes you unique?”

When talking about your unique attributes, it’s important to mention how these traits have helped you in the past and made a positive impact on a company’s bottom line. Consider using the STAR interview method here. When responding to a question about your uniqueness, here are a few key traits you may want to focus on and the right type of response:

1. Effective communication skills

“I have good communication skills, which is why it’s easy for me to develop a professional relationship with my team members and supervisors. It also helps me connect with other department leaders so we can collaborate  on the key challenges they’re facing.”

Communication skills are among the most sought-after skills these days. As organizations are investing heavily in promoting diversity, inclusion, and equity at the workplace, they need empathetic people with good written and verbal communication skills to foster a culture of trust and collaboration. This skill not only makes you unique, but it also allows you to put your best foot forward in an interview if you have large gaps in your resume and/or insufficient work experience. 

2. Aptitude for learning

“What makes me unique is that I’m constantly on the lookout for opportunities to learn and grow. I’m passionate about acquiring new skills, learning new software solutions and tools, and discovering new ways to help my team members.”

When you focus on your passion for learning, you’re letting the interviewer know that you’re innovative, driven, and unafraid of challenges. Another benefit is that this ability will likely set you apart from the other candidates. While other job applicants may have more experience than you, your willingness to learn showcases your ability to meet and exceed expectations and present new ideas to address issues at work. 

3. Ability to take calculated risks

“One of my biggest strengths is that I’m not afraid to take risks. Sometimes, when addressing complex challenges at work, you need to think outside the box, come up with a strategy, and then check to see whether it helps address those challenges. That’s something I’m good at. For example, [insert an example from your previous jobs where you took a risk and how it positively impacted the company’s bottom line].”

This type of response shows that when it comes to solving problems, you’re not afraid to push the boundaries. However, it’s important to talk about how this type of behavior has worked in your favor in the past. Otherwise, you’re likely to come across as someone who always takes risks, even when the situation can be resolved easily. 

4. General approachability 

“What truly sets me apart is the fact that I’m a problem-solver. I’m an active listener who believes in creating win-win situations for all. For this reason, my colleagues often turn to me for advice, especially when it comes to conflicts at work.”

If you’re uncertain on what makes you unique, consider talking about your approach to problem-solving. Talk about how you address issues at work and why your strategies are different from others. Also, it’s important to present yourself as an amiable individual who people can confide in when discussing problems.   

5. Technical proficiency

“Throughout my professional career, I’ve had the opportunity to acquire different technical skills. This allows me to address different issues at work and serve as a subject-matter expert on the design and implementation of new systems and strategies.”

This type of response focuses on your transferable skills, which can work in your favor when you’re switching industries. You can talk about your technical proficiencies to explain why you have the right type of knowledge and skills for the job. 

6. Work ethic

“My career is extremely important to me, and I’m not afraid to go the extra mile to deliver results and meet my targets. I take a lot of pride in my accomplishments, and my quality of work is a testament to my dedication and work ethic.” 

In an era where people want work-life balance and more time with their families, talking about your dedication and commitment to work might help you stand out. It shows that you don’t just view your job as a means to pay your bills, but as a matter of pride. Also, it focuses on your drive to learn new skills, deliver exceptional results, and improve the company’s bottom line.

What makes you unique answer examples

Example 1

One personality trait that I feel sets me apart from the rest is my ability to work with all types of people. I started my career working a retail job, which gave me the opportunity to interact with different people, listen to them attentively, and respond to their questions. This also makes me a good team player, especially when I’m working with people from different ethnicities. I noticed in your job description that you’re looking for a team player with excellent communication skills, which is what piqued my interest.

Example 2

As a former software engineer, I’m familiar with a wide variety of programming languages and coding. My passion for software development allows me to take a cautious, well-planned, and data-driven approach to problem-solving. This approach sets me apart from other candidates and makes me the ideal candidate for your Design Engineering Lead role.

Example 3

What truly sets me apart is my aptitude for learning, improving, and constantly challenging myself to deliver exceptional results. I’m good at organizing and managing my workload, setting realistic targets, and communicating with all stakeholders. At my previous jobs, I’ve worked with different project management tools to keep track of work and designed new systems to facilitate coordination between cross-functional teams. I’m also self-motivated, and my previous supervisors have often complimented me on my ability to meet and exceed expectations with minimal supervision. 

Example 4

My unique skill is my ability to lead projects. I’m good at multitasking and team management, which gives me an edge when it comes to handling complex, large-scale projects. I’ve always enjoyed leadership roles that allow me to showcase my interpersonal and organizational skills. After reviewing your job description, it became clear to me that your company recognizes and rewards effective leadership and a collaborative mindset, which is exactly what I wish to offer. For this reason, I think I would make a good fit for your organization.

Example 5

My expertise lies in my technical skills. As a content writer, I’m not only familiar with copywriting, but I’m also well aware of how search engine optimization (SEO) and pay-per-click (PPC) marketing works. I also have a lot of experience with WordPress and website development. This allows me to collaborate with web designers and SEO experts to create all-encompassing digital marketing strategies for a wide variety of clients. Since your organization is looking for individuals who understand how to create, manage, and monitor content, I believe my knowledge of content creation, web development, and SEO will prove me to be an asset. 

Example 6

In today’s workplace, there is immense value in diversity. As a team player with exceptional interpersonal skills, I value diversity and working with individuals from all backgrounds and ethnicities. In some of my previous roles, I created a space for all team members to communicate, collaborate, and even voice their concerns in a safe environment. This enabled us to work together and successfully complete large-scale projects well within their deadline and foster an environment of trust in each other. 

Preparing for an interview might seem overwhelming at first. But with the right tools and strategies by your side, you can significantly increase your chances of acing a job interview.

Key takeaways

  1. During a job interview, the interviewer is likely to ask you questions on what makes you different from the other job applicants.

  2. When responding to a question on your unique personality traits, talk about how these traits have helped you in the past and will help you deliver value to the new company.

  3. Make sure the personality traits you mention must relate to the job role you’re applying to. For this reason, it’s important to read the job description carefully.

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