What makes you unique? - interview question

Self confidence | Motivation | Cultural fit | Be honest and upbeat

What makes you unique? - interview question
How to answer what makes you unique will determine what exactly makes you different from other applicants. Some sample answers & approaches are discussed in this article.

The approach to how you can answer the qualities on what makes you unique is very situational. You cannot give generic responses and instead, you need to take into account your background, how you were raised, and what type of company or person you're interviewing for.

Regardless of what type of company/person/situation it is, there are some universal qualities which every personal brand should show.

Self Confidence

A hiring manager tries to perceive how you fit into the company and you try to determine how you fit within the job role. That's where the soft skill of self confidence comes in.

You need to show that you have a solid track record of being an excellent communicator with great delivery. Plus, you should show that have the ability to take on new responsibilities, and have some level of initiative. This kind of self confidence comes from experience and not being afraid to take on new tasks or challenges.

Being sure of yourself in light of challenging or unknown circumstances is a very difficult quality to develop, especially if you have shy or introverted personality traits.

One way to get around this before an interview is to prepare plenty of sample answers for every question you know you will be asked.

Since it is a scripted interview answer, you should feel confident enough to convey it and repeat it over and over until you get the message of what makes you unique across. Rephrase and craft your responses "in your own words" where possible to deliver a compelling answer. In an interview setting, this is your opportunity to shine.


If you're interviewing for a highly technical position, it's important that you show that you have some level of skill in the technical arena. For example, if you're interviewing for a software engineer position, showing them that you understand the programming language and frameworks that are used within the industry are important.

An exceptional candidate tends to demonstrate their interest outside of the typical academic and work settings.

His skillsets and experience could come from pastime activities (learning from Quora, Techcrunch, reading books) or volunteer work - anywhere atypical is fine, since this shows they're not just driven to work 9-5 and go home. Such ideal candidates may pick up less common skills and knowledge which ends up being one of many transferrable skills they possess.

Some people can be great at their jobs, but still aren't motivated to do anything else outside of what they're paid for (and maybe not even that).

Those are the people that tend to get stuck in the same position for a long time because they're almost never going to move up in their position or get a new job. They lack ambition and progression, which is extremely important to most companies.

In most jobs, motivation tends to dissipate because of the monotonous work that can be done. However, if you can demonstrate that you are motivated to learn new things and are able to execute on new tasks, you show you bring strong contribution to the table with an unusual combination of skills.

Having personal ambition is in fact a very attractive quality for many employers as it shows you are clear on your career path you decided on and that you are actively working towards it.

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Cultural Fit

Cultural fit is one of the most important aspects of an interview. It's also one of the most difficult to quantify and describe.

This is where you have to be honest with yourself and think about how your personality traits will fit into the company culture.

Your expressiveness and interest becomes the qualities that make you unique. As cultural fit can come in an indirect behavioural interview question, it's important that you have a genuine response to the question which shows off your personality.

The best responses to culture fit questions come from anecdotal evidence. A sample answer, for example, could be if one of the company values is being innovative and you were part of a team that had innovative ideas in the past, mention it.

Likely you have adopted an experimental process to get things going - give strong, concrete examples here - possibly you stepped out of your job position to help a team with your experience.

The structure of an interview is one where you build rapport with the interviewer. Mentioning a shared interest or past experiences help you to stand out as more unique than the rest of your competition. To make a strong impression and really show that you are special, it is helpful to highlight a personal trait that you have that isn't common amongst other candidates.

How to Build Rapport With Your Interviewer
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Such personal quirks give you the slight edge over your competing job candidates.

You could also talk about how you love working with fast-paced environments and that you thrive off new challenges every day or how excited you get when a problem gets solved.

Be Honest and Upbeat

Nothing turns off a potential employer more than a high strung individual. Job seekers who have been through too many job interviews over a short span of time tend to lose the enthusiasm and liveliness - this can unintentionally come off poorly on the job seeker's personality traits.

Stressful situations often puts the pedal to the meddle. How you respond in trying times makes you unique and shows a lot about how you can function in a stressful situation.

Don't let your reactions, a bad answer or stress get the better of you. In an interview setting, employ certain coping methods to manage the stress that you may be feeling - deep breathing exercises, staying hydrated, and sticking to a routine are all helpful tools to combat the biological process of stress. Maintain a positive outlook with an upbeat approach through the application process.

After all, if you don't get the job you applied for, it's important that you're able to pick up the pieces and move on to something else. Having a positive attitude will definitely help with that.


Outside of social media, we are inundated everyday with messages from networking events to company career pages - each trying to give us direction and focus on where we are going with our careers and what we need to do in order to get there.

There can be an extended laundry list of things that make you unique, and frankly, there is never enough time in any interview for the hiring manager to ask the real questions and see the real you. What it comes down to is whether you stand out from the crowd or not in those short face-to-face moments.

Here's a final piece of career advice - continue being genuine, respectful and exercise active listening skills. Include as many strong examples on your past experience and "laundry list" skillsets to allow for a well rounded discussion about you as an individual, so that the hiring manager can get an accurate gauge on whether or not you would fit into the company.

You need to stand out above everyone else and look special, even if it's just by being personable and that little bit more enthusiastic in your interview than they are.

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