How To Answer “What Makes You Unique?” – Sample Answers Included

By Jeff Gillis

Have you ever gotten a question like this in an interview?

It’s becoming a fairly popular question to ask, and while it might seem like this question has very little to do (if anything) with the job you’re interviewing for, there’s a very good reason why the interviewer is asking it.

That also means there’s a right way to answer it, and a wrong way.

Let’s start out with why the question is being asked….

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Why Do They Ask You “What Makes You Unique?”

First off, it’s being asked specifically to throw you off guard!

It’s a question that most interviewees don’t prepare for, so when they’re faced with it, they’re stumped. What do you say?

Do you tell the interviewer about all your double joints and how you can fit your entire body through a tennis racket?

Do you confess your unending love for candy dispensers shaped like novelty forest animals?

Do you talk about your strange dietary habits where you spent the entire four years after college subsisting only on crackers, soda and beef jerky?

While it’s true, those are all incredibly…uh…unique answers, they’re not the answers your hiring manager is looking for.

Let’s go back to why the interviewer is asking the “What makes you unique” interview question.

While it’s true some might actually want to know if you can fit your entire body through a tennis racket (especially if you’re interviewing for the circus) odds are the real reason behind the question is the interviewer is trying to assess who you are and what you think is important.

An interviewer can tell a lot about a potential hire based on their answer. They want to see what you emphasize and how you work that into your answer.

What you have to realize is that the interviewer isn’t actually asking you to tell them what makes you unique…at least not entirely.

Confused? Don’t be.

Here, let’s play a little game.

How To Answer “What Makes You Unique?”

Take a minute and think of all the answers that pop into your head.

What are they?

Are they quirky traits that set you apart from your friends and family?

Are they odd habits that you’ve had since childhood that nobody else seems to have?

Is it a skill you’ve always wished you could share on late night television but never gotten the chance?

Okay, now let’s try that question again, but this time, I’m going to run it through the ‘What the interviewer is actually asking’ filter. Are you ready? Here it is:

“What about you makes you the best candidate for this job?”

Ooohh! I am betting you that the list of answers that just popped into your head is totally different from the first list of answers you came up with.

Rather than figuring out what makes you unique, think about what value you bring to the company. Now your list might include valuable things like “I’m highly motivated by a challenge” and “I enjoy working with a team to bring a project to completion.”

This question is meant to find out what makes you valuable both as a person and in the workplace…and why those differences set you apart from the other candidates.

Remember, an interviewer’s number one job is to find the best candidate for the position they are hiring for…and your job is to prove to them that you’re the perfect candidate!

Now that we’ve figured out exactly what the hiring manager is asking…how do you answer it? By doing a little prep ahead of time.

Top 5 Tips For “What Makes You Unique”

1. Do your Homework

Start with the job listing itself. Look at what skills are required and match those up with the skills you know you have. Make sure when you answer the question that you work those skills into the conversation through examples.

2. Self-Assess

After you’ve gone over the job posting and your related skills, spend some time asking yourself what sets you apart from other candidates and write those answers down. Come up with a list of skills that you think are unique to you that make you a valuable addition to the company that weren’t listed in the job posting.

3. Reference the Past

Share actual examples from your own work history to back up your answers. Make sure your stories are short, concise, and end on a positive note. Share with your hiring manager not only what makes you unique, but how you used that uniqueness in a positive, constructive way.

4. It’s Not All About You

Yes, it’s your interview, but really, it’s al