Interview Question: 'What Makes You Unique?' (With Answers)

Updated 14 December 2022

During a job interview, a hiring manager may ask various questions to determine how you're different from other candidates. While a hiring manager may ask specific questions about your qualifications, they may also ask, 'What makes you unique?' so that you can provide your own perspective. Understanding how to answer this interview question can help you communicate your unique attributes to a potential employer in a memorable way. In this article, we explain how to answer 'What makes you unique?' in a job interview and provide example answers for you to study.

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Why do interviewers ask 'What makes you unique?'

Interviewers may ask, 'What makes you unique?' to see what contributions you can offer to the organisation. They may also ask this question to learn how you view yourself as a candidate. Employers want to hire candidates who are confident in and aware of their abilities, so they may ask this question in an interview to give potential employees the opportunity to talk about themselves in a positive manner.

Related: How to Sell Yourself in 25 Words or Less (With Tips)

How to respond when an interviewer asks about your unique traits

Here's a list of steps on how to respond when a hiring manager asks you about your uniqueness in a professional environment:

1. Review the duties in the job description

The first step in creating a response is to consider the duties in the job description. Reviewing the job description can help you learn what traits are essential to experiencing success in the position. You may also learn what details employers might be looking for in a candidate's response. Depending on the position for which you're applying, you may choose to focus on different attributes that you have. For example, you may mention different attributes depending on if you're applying for a position as a computer scientist versus a position as a secondary school teacher.

Related: What Are Job Requirements? (With 8 Examples of Requirements)

2. Consider any feedback you've received from others in the workplace

Think about the feedback that you've received from others in the workplace. Regardless of whether you've received feedback from customers, supervisors or coworkers, it can be indicative of your future performance. While you can mention compliments you've received in your personal life, you may first consider compliments you've received at work to ensure that the comments are relevant to your career.

Related: 101 Self-Reflection Questions to Help with Your Career

3. Mention key personality traits and skills you've shown in the workplace

After you've reviewed the job description and reflected on past feedback you've received in the workplace, you can brainstorm key personality traits and skills that you've shown in the workplace. For example, you may be hard-working or exhibit strong problem-solving or conflict resolution skills. Try to summarise these traits or skills into a couple of words.

Related: 9 Character Traits That Attract Employers

4. Refer to past examples

You can answer the interviewer's question directly by stating the key personality traits and skills that you thought of in step three. Instead of ending your response with this declaration, you can strengthen your answer by referring to past examples. Think of past work situations in which you showed these unique traits and skills. If possible, reference past results of accomplishments using specific figures so that an employer can better understand your contributions. If you don't have past work experience because you're entering the workforce for the first time, you may discuss anecdotes from your personal life.

Related: Storytelling Skills (With Definitions and Examples)

5. Emphasise how you can benefit the organisation

Once you explain your unique traits and skills through a past example, you can emphasise how you can implement these traits or skills to benefit the hiring organisation. Show your enthusiasm for the organisation's future success. Describe that you can adapt to the organisation's unique operations and implement your skills and traits as the organisation needs them.

Related: Interview Question: 'What Can You Bring to the Company?'

5 sample answers to interview questions about your uniqueness

Here are five sample answers you can use for reference when answering interview questions about your uniqueness:

Example 1

Here's an example response from a candidate who's applying for an entry-level position as a park ranger and doesn't have work experience yet:

'My upbringing makes me a unique candidate for this position. When I was growing up, my family and I lived in a cabin on a riverside. I spent a lot of my summers fly-fishing with my dad, who taught me everything I know. During those summers, I learned a lot about fishing regulations in the area and how to respect nature. This unique experience qualifies me for the available park ranger position. I enjoy being outdoors, have a profound respect for the natural environment and am deeply familiar with the wildlife that exists in this area'.

Example 2

Here's an example response from a candidate who's applying for a position as a content writer:

'I'm a unique candidate because I have a strong desire to learn. At my previous place of employment, I felt that the leadership team wasn't giving me and other content writers opportunities to advance our skills. I was frustrated with my lack of professional development, so I advocated for an initiative within the company. This initiative would introduce training courses that were available to all staff members.

Once the training courses became available, I took as many as my schedule allowed. As a result, I improved my competencies and qualified for a higher-level role within the company. Now, as I'm applying to this organisation, I hope to foster a culture of career development so that employees can have the resources they need to experience success in the workplace'.

Example 3

Here's an example response from a candidate who's undergoing a career change and has job experience in another field:

'I believe that my former career as a firefighter makes me a unique candidate for the available personal trainer position. As a firefighter, I developed physical strength and conditioning, so I can help clients meet their goals in those areas. I also have strong communication skills that can help me interact with clients, as I interacted with many diverse individuals in the public during my former career. I also have training in CPR and first aid thanks to my time as a firefighter, so I know how to react if an emergency were to occur with a client'.

Related: Answering the 'Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?' Interview Question

Example 4

Here's an example response from an information technology (IT) candidate who learned a new program in their previous position:

'In my previous position as a computer scientist, the company for which I worked used the same computer software for years. One day, the management team announced that the company would have a two-week period to transition to using new software to complete the tasks. I took initiative to learn the new software and helped train other employees who were experiencing challenges on how to use it. Now that I'm applying to work for this organisation, I can offer my versatility and adaptability to help the organisation remain current with industry changes as they occur'.

Example 5

Here's an example response from a candidate who draws on work experience in the same field:

'I'm a unique candidate because I'm not afraid of failure. In my past position as a search engine optimisation (SEO) specialist, my team and I had the responsibility of increasing organic traffic for the company website after years of bad practices from former team members. During our first six months, we didn't experience any organic increases in traffic. In fact, some traffic decreased.

Despite our shortcomings, we preserved. By the end of the first year, we had managed to increase the website's organic traffic by 50%. We realised that time was essential to undoing years of unethical practices. Using the failed strategies during our first year helped us optimise the process for future websites. Now, as I apply for this SEO consultant position, I realise that some projects require significant time and effort, and I'm willing to dedicate all of my resources and energy to produce optimal results'.

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