The internet is full of helpful information (if you know where to look!). Particularly when you’re a job seeker, you can find a mountain of information about how to prepare for and answer common interview questions. You can even find information on how to answer uncommon interview questions!
One interview question that doesn’t seem to come up often is, “What makes you unique?” However, once you dig into what the question is asking, you’ll find this “unique” question is far more common than it seems.
Why Employers Ask “What Makes You Unique?”
There are two reasons why an employer might ask, “What makes you unique?”
First, it’s likely you aren’t the only applicant the company is interviewing for the role. And it’s equally likely that all the candidates are similar in background, education, and experience. So, while the employer is asking you to talk about what makes you unique, what they’re really asking is, “Why should we hire you over the other candidates?”
The second reason employers ask this question is because it’s unique! You may have been expecting and even prepared for, “Why should we hire you?” and the employer knows this. So, by throwing you a curveball, the employer is trying to measure how well you handle the unexpected and think on your feet!
How to Answer “What Makes You Unique?”
As you formulate your answer, remember that in this case, “unique” doesn’t mean “one of a kind.” For example, it might be unique that you know Morse code. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll need this particular skill for the role. The employer wants to know about the combination of skills and experience that only you possess and how you will use them to benefit the company.
Your answer needs to be specific to the role without being generic. Saying you’re unique because you have top-notch communication skills isn’t, well, unique. And while saying you have top-notch communication skills because you know Morse code is very unique, it’s probably not relevant to the role.
However, saying you have top-notch communication skills because you’ve spent the last few years creating press releases that increased traffic to the company website by 44% is unique, compelling, and specific!
Lead With Confidence
You might have a lot of skills or traits that make you unique. So, pick the one skill or trait you’re most confident talking about.
This doesn’t have to be a hard skill. You could discuss a soft skill or even an aspect of your personality that will help you excel in the role. For example, if you’re interviewing for a customer service role, you might choose to highlight that you’re an excellent listener or have an uncanny ability to understand where people are coming from.
Relate Your Uniqueness to the Role
Then, talk about how this skill or trait is relevant to the role. Using the example above, you could explain that being a good listener is essential in a customer service role because you recognize that often when people call, they are angry. Angry people usually want to be heard, and you have no problems hearing them out and being sympathetic.
How Will This Benefit the Employer?
Finally, explain how your unique ability will benefit the employer.
As a good listener, you’re able to hear what the customer is saying, and you take that information to soothe the customer and help them find a solution. This can help retain that customer and even turn them into a loyal, repeat one!
Sample Answer for “What Makes You Unique?”
Here’s what the pieces look like together:
One thing that makes me unique is that I’m a fantastic listener. This serves me well as a customer service agent because I can listen sympathetically to the customer and help them understand that I’m here to help. I’ll then work with them to find an agreeable solution. In my current role, I’ve received a five-star rating at least 98% of the time, with the majority of the customers saying that they were satisfied with the outcome and willing to recommend us to others.
As Unique as You
While there’s only one you, the other candidates may be pretty similar to you. Help an employer understand why they should hire you by talking about your uniqueness in a way that explains why you’re the best person for the role!
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