How To Communicate The Things That Make You Unique
Author: Robyn Gilder
Published date: 2018/07
When you’re going through the interview process, there’s no doubt you’re going to get asked some curly questions. It’s fair – your interviewer is trying to ascertain why they should hire you over other the other qualified candidates that have applied. You need to find a way to communicate, in a warm and interesting way, what it is that sets you apart. In a world filled with Job Descriptions and Personal Summaries, it’s important to consider the things that make you unique.
Those difficult-to-answer questions
Have you ever been in a job interview and been asked: “What do you consider to be your weaknesses?” or “Tell me about a time things didn’t go your way and how you handled it.” They’re tricky questions to answer, because you’re primed to present yourself in the best light possible! The last thing you want to talk about is anything negative.
Well, how about this one: “What makes you unique?”
It’s giving you an opportunity to talk about your individual qualities in a positive way, but it’s still a bit of a minefield. In the context of an interview, what does that question really mean?
Let’s be clear here – your interviewer does not want to know that you’re passionate about Poetry Slam, can put your lipstick on with your toes, or that you collect porcelain cats! The real question they are asking is, “Why should I hire you?” or “What makes you the best candidate for the job?” That’s what you need to communicate. It’s easy to overlook the core reason you’re in that room…to convince them to hire you! When you answer this question correctly it will give you a critical edge over the other candidates that also meet the criteria (on paper at least).
Here are some great ways to answer this question and tell the hiring manager what they really want to hear.
Talk up your background
While you might have a similar employment history to other candidates in the mix, there will be something in your background that helps set you apart. Make sure you think of a specific example to demonstrate this.
What to say:
“My background is a little different from others in the field, which gives me a unique perspective on this position. I can come up with creative solutions when faced with a problem, for example I came up with X solution to solve Y problem, and it worked exceptionally well. The end result was Z.”
Use facts and figures to quantify your unique perspective
If you’ve spent a lot of time in your interview talking about your ‘soft skills’, this is a great opportunity to present some impressive numbers or percentages. It will show that you are well-rounded and results focussed, and can be both analytical and relational.
What to say:
“In my last job, I created a new system for reporting that streamlined our productivity and improved it by 20%.”
The addition of “by 20%” transforms what would be a good answer (“I streamlined our productivity”) to a standout answer. You’ve made your value tangible. Also ensure that you talk through not just the result, but how you did it. This is just as, if not more, important in many cases. It will demonstrate to your interviewer the process you go through to solve a problem (an underrated skill!).
Play up your education
If your education or the degree you hold is somewhat left of centre for the role you’re applying for, don’t necessarily see this as negative or roadblock. Instead, find a way to use that to your advantage.
What to say:
“I believe my degree / diploma in _____, combined with my recent experience in _____ position gives me a deep and educated understanding in this field. I’ve been looking for a position that give me the opportunity to utilise what I learnt in a business environment and I think this role is the perfect fit.”
Always be humble
It’s important to remember when answering this question that you maintain some sense of humility. There are other candidates in the race who are equally qualified, sometimes more so. The employer’s asking you what makes you different, not special. Start by acknowledging the quality of your competitors, and then discuss your unique differences.
What to say:
“While I know all the candidates applying for this job are unique, I think my background in _____ will help me stand out in this role for _____ reason.
Your answer is all about you, not anyone else. Never bad-mouth someone else to get ahead.No under-hand tactics needed here!
Using the tips and scripts above, tailor yourself a few answers to some common interview questions. On the day, choose the one that best fits what you know about the organisation’s goals or culture. Leaving the interview knowing you’ve made it clear why you’re the most uniquely qualified candidate for the job is a great feeling, and will make you extremely memorable!
Robyn Gilder is a Property Consultant at Fetch Recruitment with multi-national experience and a passion for developing unique talent. You can connect with Robyn on LinkedIn here.