What makes you unique?
The “What makes you unique?” interview question is becoming more popular with interviewers. For candidates, it can be hard question to answer well if you have not prepared for it. The word “unique” can throw some people, testing your confidence more than other similar questions because of the phrasing.
The interviewer is giving you a great opportunity to talk about your best skills and experiences so make good use of this opportunity.
Think of the question as a version of “What are your greatest strengths?”. What makes you unique is the combination of skills, character traits and experiences that you have.
Other candidates that will have several of the same strengths and experiences that you have because you are applying for the same role. It will be unlikely that any other candidate will have the same combination as you. Be confident that you are unique and answer the question with the combination of your skills, traits, and experiences in mind.
The interviewer is looking to find out:
What set of skills, character traits and experiences you have and which ones you choose to talk about. This can be compared to the other candidates.
They are also interested to find out how much you know about the role and challenges it faces through the answer you give.
With all answers, the interviewer will also be assessing how you come across, your confidence levels, how well you communicate and so on.
Make your answer relevant to the employer
It is important that you spend time to understand what the employer is looking for. i.e. what is the problem or set of problems. When you understand this even at a high level, you will be able to give answers that are relevant to the employer.
The more relevant your answer, the more interest they will be.
For example, if as a hiring manager, my problem is that I don’t have anyone to create and manage the company’s Facebook campaigns and in interview you are talking about your experience with YouTube marketing I will not be as interested. Compare this to if you talk about your Facebook experience and strengths.
If you want to get job offers, keep your focus on providing answers to the hiring managers problems.
To find out what these problems are, go through the job advert carefully, take note when the recruiter is describing the role (and make notes) and spend time researching the company. Also think about the problems you know are faced by this role.
What are you best strengths?
When you have a good idea of the types of problems faced by the hiring manager, starting listing all your strengths – skills, character traits and experiences relating to these problem areas.
One of the best ways to “find” these is to think about your current and previous roles. Think about what you enjoyed, what you were complimented about, what your colleagues or friends say about you. Which projects, big or small, were a great success.
What about you helped you be successful in your work, projects or out of work?
Choose several of these skills, character traits and experiences. Create a short story for each which demonstrates why the strengths you have chosen are valuable to the potential employer.
Always frame your answers in terms of how these strengths help the company in which you are working.
Always include examples in your interview question answers
If you tell an interviewer that you can solve a problem, then the interviewer will be interested in understanding more. If you can prove that you have solved the problem and can do so again, they will be interested in hiring you.
All candidates make statements during interviews. The problem the interviewer has is working out which candidate is the best at solving the problem. Even if you make your statement with total confidence, the interviewer will still have some doubts if you can actually deliver what you say you can.
Good interviewers look for proof. In the interview setting, the proof is in the examples that you provide. The better candidates always provide examples.
Great candidates provide clear, well-structured, highly relevant examples.
Example answers for “What makes you unique?”
I am determined, very keen to learn, have 10 years of managing teams and have turnaround around several teams’ performance. These combined, I believe, make me unique. A good example is that I was asked to lead an underperforming finance team which was 6 months behind in producing management accounts. I was determined that we would get back on track with reporting and we did this within 4 months as well as uncovering and resolving a number of significant issues such as tax reporting to HMRC.
The was achieved through understanding each member’s strengths, giving clear direction on what was expected and what each person needed to do, and then spending time training each person. I also removed one person who was not able to improve their performance and recruited stronger more experienced staff members.
The managing director was really impressed at the dramatically improved contribution of the function to the overall business, helping improve net profits by 5%, as well as the speed of getting the reporting issues resolved. The team were also happier and more motivated as proved by 20% increase in NPS scores and a 40% drop in absence.
Make your answers structured, clear, credible, and relevant to get job offers