Whenever you apply for a new job, you can be sure many of your traits, abilities and skills overlap with other candidates also vying for the position. However, you have specific experiences and skills that make you unique — things that make you stand out from the crowd and a must-have talent.
“What makes you unique?” is one of many curveball questions an interviewer or hiring manager could ask you during an interview. It’s one of the most popular questions they ask. It’s an opportunity for you to share your best qualities and use it as a platform to differentiate yourself from a pool of other candidates.
If your answer is honest and relevant, the hiring manager will realize just how much of a valuable addition you can be to the team. Although you might hear this question with varying wording, it all tends to mean the same — make yourself stand out. Provide an answer that leaves an impact and suggests you’ll benefit the company, the better your chances of landing that dream job.
“What makes me unique is my ability to naturally empathize with and relate to people. In my previous role, I was the head of the department and I was line managing eight people. Along with my workload, I had to be there emotionally and be present for my team.
“I was quickly able to identify their challenges and ambitions. I understood how they communicated to establish trust and build effective relationships with them. Due to this trust and reliability, they consistently outperformed other teams and brought the business great results due to the backing they constantly received.”
This answer quickly establishes you as someone trustworthy and can excel in a manager role. It also references how the company benefited from your skills as a happy team turned into a productive (and profitable) one.
“I’d say my unique trait is that I constantly enjoy learning new things. I never sit still. I’m always learning and searching for new opportunities. It allows me to pick up new skills for self-development, which I can then apply to my place of work.”
Showcasing your passion for learning is a foolproof approach. It shows you’re focused on growth, not afraid of challenges and can pivot whenever something new gets thrown your way. Answer the question like this is also a subtle way of telling the hiring manager you’re more than qualified compared to other candidates.
Yes, others might have more experience, but your constant desire to learn shows you’ll get to grips quickly. You’ll aim higher than others and want to exceed expectations.
“My unique trait is that I’m not afraid to fail. You have to innovate and try new ideas in an industry like ours. Yes, it can be risky, but you don’t know the impact it can have until you try. I’m as experimental as they come and I apply logic to every decision made.
“I have several examples from my previous workplace. I led the charge to move towards a points-based pricing model, which worked and is still in play. I suggested moving from Asana to Accelo, which was a learning curve but the right tool the business needed. I also helped restructure our best-performing development team by mixing up teams with different programming languages, helping us increase project delivery by 25%.”
An answer like this shows the hiring manager that you aren’t afraid to think outside of the box and use your initiative to get the job done. Companies don’t just want to hire a yes-person. They want someone who will bring fresh ideas and approaches to the table.
Find the right balance, so it doesn’t sound like you make so many mistakes, but also that you believe in your ideas and will make the reality happen. It’s also a good idea to provide real examples with the outcome, too.
“What makes me unique are my organizational skills and process-driven thinking. The way my mind works, I applied these skills to transform my employer’s processes and increased our marketing ROI by 40%.”
Answering the question like this immediately tells the interviewer how you can help their company. That’s what they want to hear. It’s short, simple and to the point with a quantitative point to back up the claims.
“My unique skill is the ability to thrive in a fast-paced environment without getting stressed. It’s the type of company where I do my best work and working as an account manager solidified that. I was managing seven clients at one, juggling tasks, taking calls. I love the adrenaline rush and driving results for them all.”
This answer shows that you can work in a fast-paced environment and not let situations get to you. You have thick skin and know how to get the job done, which the clients wanted. Being specific with how much you took on in a previous role also shows it isn’t empty words, but there’s the genuine experience in a thriving environment that not everyone is suitable for.
“I have a unique ability to manage difficult client relationships. I used to work in a sales role, so I know how to communicate with people, especially in potentially negative situations. My previous employer noticed this and I was given three of our most demanding clients. Two of them retracted their notice as I was able to help get things back on track.”
Using this as your unique skills shows you can be trusted to take on vital tasks the company might need to throw your way. It shines you in a positive light by showcasing the impact of you taking on a tough challenge, so the interviewer knows you can be relied on in a similar situation.
“I know the candidates for this role are probably used to working in companies of this size, but what I bring that’s unique to the table is my experiences in start-ups. I know the ins-and-outs of the industry, I know what happens on the shop floor and I’ve been able to learn the intricacies to realize the impact they have much higher up the chain.”
This answer isn’t shooting yourself in the foot. If the candidate pool is competitive, refer to the journey that got you to where you are. It shows you’ve been around the block and you know what it takes to do things the hard way. Highlighting areas of your background shows how your trajectory was different and helped you achieve things others couldn’t.
“My determination makes me unique. I wasn’t given a chance to go to university and had a family at a young age. Despite working in recruitment, I went back to school, completed nearly 10 courses and clawed my way to becoming a senior developer in what’s been a nine-year journey. I know how to work hard to get what you want and I apply that same logic and experience to all of my work.”
Answering what makes you unique like this quickly runs through your journey to the interview. If you have a great story about the hoops you had to jump through and how you achieved success the hard way, interviewers will love the determination as they know you won’t get lazy in the role.