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5 Smart Answers: “What Sets You Apart”

Why Interviewers Ask This Question

Hiring managers and employers frequently ask the question, “What sets you apart from other candidates?” during interviews. They do this for several reasons. First, interviewing several candidates can be time-consuming, and recruiters want to identify the right person for the job efficiently. By asking this question, they hope to learn what unique qualities you possess compared to other applicants.

Secondly, this question helps employers gauge your self-awareness and understanding of the job requirements. When you articulate your strengths and how they align with the position’s needs, it demonstrates that you have put thought into how you can contribute to the company.

Another reason interviewers pose this question is to assess your communication skills. Your ability to convey your unique skills and experience in a concise manner reflects your ability to communicate effectively, which is often a key factor in job success.

Additionally, asking this question encourages you to sell yourself as the best candidate for the position. Employers are looking for people who can bring value not only through their technical expertise but also through their character and work ethic. They want to hear about the combination of skills and qualities that make you a great fit for the role and the company.

Understanding the Components of Your Answer

Identifying Your Unique Qualities

To answer the question “What sets you apart from other candidates?”, start by identifying your unique qualities. Think about personal traits and characteristics that differentiate you from others. These can include your work ethic, communication style, or ability to adapt to new situations. Reflect on your past experiences and pinpoint the qualities that have helped you succeed in different roles or projects.

Related: 35 Smart Answers to “What Are Your Strengths?”

Determining Your Relevant Skills

Next, consider the relevant skills that make you a strong candidate for the position. Analyze the job description and requirements to identify the key skills the employer is looking for. From the list, determine which of your skills align with the desired skill set. Focus on your strengths in these areas, and provide examples of how you have demonstrated these skills in past work-related situations. This will show the interviewer that not only are you aware of your abilities, but also that you have a track record of success utilizing them.

Related: 36 Smart Answers to “What Makes You Unique?”: Tips for a Winning Job Interview

Highlighting Your Accomplishments

Lastly, be sure to highlight your accomplishments when discussing what sets you apart from other candidates. Talk about the specific achievements and milestones you are most proud of and how they relate to the kind of work you will be doing in the new role. This could include projects you’ve completed, awards you’ve received, or quantifiable results you have achieved. By showcasing your unique strengths and skills through tangible examples, you will make a lasting impression on the interviewer.

Remember to keep your answer brief, while still effectively communicating your unique qualities, relevant skills, and accomplishments. It is important to be honest and avoid making exaggerated or false claims. Use a confident, knowledgeable, and neutral tone to convey your expertise and show the interviewer that you are the best possible fit for the role.

Related: How to Cultivate Self-Awareness (10 Tips)

 

“What Sets You Apart”: 5 Templates of Smart Answers

Template 1:

“What sets me apart is my ability to [skill or trait]. For example, I have [specific example of how you’ve demonstrated this skill or trait]. I believe this makes me a valuable asset to any team or organization.”

Example: “What sets me apart is my ability to think creatively. I have a track record of coming up with innovative solutions to complex problems, such as [specific example of a project or challenge where you demonstrated this skill]. I believe this makes me a valuable asset to any team or organization.”

Template 2:

“I have a unique perspective on [industry or topic] that sets me apart from others. For example, I have [specific experience or expertise in this area]. I believe this gives me a competitive edge in [specific aspect of your career or industry].”

Example: “I have a unique perspective on marketing that sets me apart from others. For example, I have experience working in both B2B and B2C marketing, which has given me a holistic understanding of the industry. I believe this gives me a competitive edge in creating effective marketing strategies for any type of business.”

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Template 3:

“What sets me apart is my ability to [skill or trait] in a way that is [unique or differentiating characteristic]. This has allowed me to [specific accomplishment or achievement].”

Example: “What sets me apart is my ability to communicate complex ideas in a way that is easy for others to understand. This has allowed me to lead successful training sessions and workshops, resulting in increased employee engagement and productivity.”

Template 4:

“I have a strong passion for [specific aspect of your career or industry], which sets me apart from others. For example, I have [specific experience or accomplishment that demonstrates this passion]. I believe this passion drives me to continually improve and innovate in my work.”

Example: “I have a strong passion for sustainability in the fashion industry, which sets me apart from others. For example, I led a project to implement eco-friendly practices in a fashion company, resulting in a 25% reduction in waste. I believe this passion drives me to continually improve and innovate in my work.”

Template 5:

“What sets me apart is my ability to [skill or trait] while also [unique or differentiating characteristic]. This has allowed me to [specific accomplishment or achievement].”

Example: “What sets me apart is my ability to work well under pressure while also maintaining a positive attitude. This has allowed me to successfully manage multiple projects with tight deadlines, resulting in high-quality deliverables and satisfied clients.”

Additional Examples

Example Answer 1

When asked what sets you apart from other candidates, you could focus on your unique combination of skills and experiences. For example:

“In addition to my strong background in sales and marketing, I have a certification in project management, which allows me to effectively coordinate and oversee projects from start to finish. This combination of skills is rare in the industry and has helped me consistently exceed targets and deliver positive results for my previous employers.”

Example Answer 2

Sometimes your education and relevant experience can set you apart from the competition. You might say:

“Having worked in the tech industry for over five years, I have gained hands-on experience in a variety of roles, including development, QA testing, and product management. In addition, I recently completed a master’s degree in computer science, which deepened my understanding of the underlying technologies and processes involved in software development. As a result, I am well-equipped to tackle the challenges of this job opening and contribute to your team’s success.”

Example Answer 3

Highlighting a particular personality trait or attitude that is valuable in your line of work can also make you stand out from other potential employees. For example:

“One key attribute that sets me apart from other candidates is my exceptional attention to detail. In my previous roles, I have consistently identified and addressed overlooked issues before they became major problems, improving productivity and reducing costs for my employers. My strong focus on accuracy and quality assurance not only benefits the projects I work on but also fosters trust and collaboration within the team.”

Preparing Smart Answers Strategically

Comparing Your Skills to the Job Requirements

To prepare, begin by researching the job description. Identify the key requirements and responsibilities. Then, compare your skills and experience to these requirements, highlighting where you excel. This will help you craft a valuable and relevant response, demonstrating to your potential employer that you have taken the time to understand the organization’s needs.

For example:

  • Sales position: If the job requires strong negotiation skills, you can mention your experience in closing deals and your ability to build rapport with clients.
  • Technical role: In case of a software development position, point out your expertise in the specific programming languages or frameworks specified in the job description.

Understanding the Company’s Needs

Next, research the company itself. Gain insight into their goals, values, and culture. Understanding the company’s needs enables you to tailor your answer to show how you can address their specific challenges. Be prepared to discuss both your technical and soft skills that will benefit their business.

For example:

  • If the company is focused on fostering a collaborative environment, emphasize your teamwork abilities and experiences of working in cross-functional teams.
  • If the organization values innovation, describe how you have implemented creative solutions in your previous roles.
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Matching Your Personal Values to the Company

Consider how your personal values align with the company’s mission and vision. Demonstrate your genuine interest in their objectives by explaining how the company’s values resonate with you. This will not only showcase your cultural fit but also reflect your confidence in your ability to contribute to the organization’s success.

Tailoring Your Answer to Different Interview Scenarios

Responding in Behavioral Interviews

In behavioral interviews, focus on giving specific examples from your past experiences that highlight your unique qualities. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your response. Describe a situation where you faced a challenge, the task you were assigned, the actions you took, and the results you achieved. This will showcase your problem-solving abilities and allow you to stand out from other candidates effectively.

Adapting Your Answer for Technical Interviews

For technical interviews, emphasize your expertise in specific programming languages, software, or methodologies that set you apart from other candidates. Be ready to discuss your experience working on similar projects or with relevant tools. Mention any certifications, training, or special skills that demonstrate your competency in the desired field. Use concrete examples of your achievements to illustrate how your technical skills have benefited past employers or projects.

Answering Questions about Skills Gaps

Addressing any skills gaps in your resume is crucial for setting yourself apart from other candidates. If you lack a particular skill or have limited experience in a certain area, be honest but also highlight your adaptability and eagerness to learn. Showcase your dedication by discussing relevant courses, tutorials, or workshops you have attended or plan to attend to fill the gap. Additionally, emphasize your transferable skills and experiences that may make up for any shortcomings.

Additional Tips to Keep in Mind When Answering

Be Honest and Authentic

When answering this question, it’s important to be honest and authentic about your strengths and accomplishments. Avoid making exaggerated or false claims, as this may be discovered later on in your job application process. Instead, focus on your dedication, unique talent, and areas of expertise that are relevant to the position you’re applying for.

Focus on Key Selling Points

Highlight your key selling points, such as your creativity, customer service skills, motivation, or project management experience. Emphasize your accomplishments that set you apart from other candidates, which could include awards, promotions, or successful projects. By focusing on your most relevant and unique skills, you will showcase your value and increase your chances of receiving a job offer.

Key Selling Points Examples
Dedication Long-term projects, going above and beyond
Creativity Innovative solutions, problem-solving
Customer Service Positive feedback, customer satisfaction
Motivation Self-driven, ambitious goals
Unique Talent Specialized skills, niche expertise
Accomplishments Awards, successful projects

Practice and Prepare

Before your interview, you should practice and prepare your answer to this question. Note down your key strengths and align them with the job requirements to create a compelling response. Rehearse your answer and consider enlisting a friend to help you practice. This will help you become more confident in your delivery and ensure a clear, knowledgeable tone during the actual interview.

Leveraging Your Unique Traits in Other Interview Questions

Connecting Skills to Achievements

When answering interview questions, it’s essential to connect your unique skills to your achievements. For example, mention how your ability to acclimate to new cultures has helped you succeed in business trips and collaborate with diverse teams. Discuss your experience ordering inventory and how your entrepreneurship skills allowed you to optimize processes, reducing costs and boosting efficiency.

Reflect on your personality and identify traits that make you motivated and resourceful. Use these traits as the foundation for the stories you share in your interview, demonstrating how they contributed to your success in various projects or initiatives. Always tailor your answer to the specific job requirements and company values, ensuring a clear connection between your uniqueness and the organization’s needs.

Discussing Personal and Professional Growth

In addition to showcasing your skills and achievements, highlight the personal and professional growth you’ve experienced throughout your career. Your ability to learn, adapt, and improve sets you apart from other candidates and demonstrates your potential to excel in the company.

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When discussing your growth, share examples of how you’ve embraced new challenges, learned from your experiences, and consistently improved your performance. By doing so, you’ll convey that you’re not only a valuable candidate but also someone with the potential to continue growing and positively impacting the organization.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some good examples to showcase uniqueness during an interview?

To showcase your uniqueness during an interview, focus on sharing specific examples and stories that demonstrate your strengths and accomplishments. This may include a challenging project you successfully completed, leadership experiences, or a creative solution to a problem. Try to mention any unique skills or experiences that directly relate to the job position.

How can I effectively demonstrate my skills as a better fit for the position?

To effectively demonstrate your skills as a better fit for the position, tailor your examples and stories to the specific requirements, qualifications, and tasks mentioned in the job description. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to provide clear and structured answers. Emphasize how your skills were developed and how they improved performance or resolved issues in previous roles.

What should I emphasize to stand out among college applicants?

To stand out among college applicants, emphasize your academic achievements, involvement in extracurricular activities, unique talents, or community service experiences. Showcase your ability to overcome challenges, demonstrate leadership, or exhibit personal growth. Highlight a distinct passion or interest related to your intended major or career path.

How do I answer what I can do better than other candidates?

When answering what you can do better than other candidates, focus on highlighting your unique attributes and strengths. Rather than directly comparing yourself to others, showcase how your skills, experiences, and qualities make you a strong candidate. Use specific examples from your work or educational background to showcase these benefits.

What strategies can be employed to articulate my qualities in an interview?

To articulate your qualities in an interview, practice and prepare concise, specific examples showcasing your strengths and accomplishments. Use body language and active listening to engage with the interviewer and show confidence. Be genuine and honest, focusing on the elements of your experience that truly set you apart and are relevant to the position.

How can I better prepare for the ‘What sets you apart?’ question?

To better prepare for the ‘What sets you apart?’ question, reflect on your experiences, skills, and achievements relevant to the job description. Identify your unique selling points and practice storytelling to illustrate those qualities. Research the company and the role, aligning yourself with their values and culture. Rehearse your response, ensuring it is concise, clear, and tailored to the specific role and organization.

Example of storytelling to illustrate your qualities:

“When I was working as a project manager at X company, we were tasked with completing a complex project with a tight deadline. The team was struggling to keep up with the workload, and morale was low. I decided to take action and organized a team-building event that was both fun and productive. We spent a day volunteering at a local charity, which not only helped us bond as a team but also gave us a sense of purpose and fulfillment.

As a result of this experience, I learned the importance of taking a proactive approach to problem-solving and leadership. I also realized that by investing in my team’s well-being and happiness, we were able to achieve better results and meet our goals more effectively. This experience has shaped my approach to management and is something that sets me apart from others in the field.”

By telling this story, the candidate is not only highlighting their problem-solving and leadership skills but also demonstrating their ability to think outside the box and prioritize team morale. Storytelling can be a powerful way to differentiate oneself from other candidates and make a lasting impression on the interviewer.

Posted in: Job Interview