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“What makes you different?”, “What differentiates you from other candidates?”, “What sets you apart?” – there are countless different ways of phrasing this interview question, and none of them make it any easier to answer.
In a graduate job interview, employers will be looking for information to help them make a decision on whether or not they should hire you. “What makes you unique?” is the perfect way to help them differentiate between you and other candidates.
Just like “tell me about yourself” and “what are your strengths and weaknesses?”, this open-ended question can be difficult to answer; because you’ll need to discuss your best qualities with confidence, while being careful not to come across as arrogant.
To determine the best approach to answering “What makes you unique?”, lets look first of all at the reasons why employers choose to ask this common interview question.
“What makes you unique?” actually translates to “What skills, qualities and experiences make you the best candidate for this job?”
By asking this question, employers are inviting you to brag about yourself and your best qualities, and tell them what differentiates you from other graduate candidates.
This is your chance to list the things that make you the very best candidate – so it’s important to think about 1 or 2 key things (this could be specific skills, qualifications, volunteering, work experience or otherwise) that you know not every candidate will have.
The skills and qualities you choose to speak about in relation to the interview question “What makes you unique?” will reveal how much you really know about the job and the company.
If your answer is completely irrelevant (i.e. you talk about your passion for art in a graduate finance job interview), you’ll be indicating to the employer that you don’t know much about what the job role requires, and therefore are probably not a good fit.
Employers also use this interview question to find out how well you can think on your feet. Coming up with a “unique” answer to the question will indicate to them that you are able to think outside of the box about why you are the top candidate for the job.
While you want to differentiate yourself from other graduates, this isn’t an opportunity to start undermining other people being interviewed. Rather than speaking negatively about the rest of the candidates, and why you are superior, focus on speaking about your positive traits and what you can offer.
While this is an open-ended question, it’s best to keep your answer as succinct as possible, and stick to 1 or 2 reasons why you are the best candidate for the job. Keeping your answer short and sweet will leave the employer with a lasting impression. Find out how to avoid rambling in an interview.
While you want to come up with something that sets you apart, there’s no reason to lie or exaggerate. As with all the common interview questions, you will only get caught out in the long-term – especially if it turns out you can’t do the thing you told the employer you could!
Check out our complete guide to answering common graduate Interview Questions here.