This million-dollar question “What makes you unique?” has a purpose and an ideal way to go about fulfilling it. Know why your interviewer is asking you this, what they want to know about you, and what will compel them to say those three magic words.
The pitch to ‘sell yourself’ need not be improvised; you can prepare for it well in advance and win over the people on the other side of the table in the interview chamber!
In today’s workplace, creativity is treasured. Even technology-focused jobs may at times require candidates who can think creatively to arrive at innovative solutions. Interviewers are often seeking that creative spark through a question like this one. If you give a mundane answer here, they will judge you as less creative and more conforming in your thoughts. So try thinking out of the box when you are preparing a pitch on what makes you unique. If you cannot say different things, say the same things differently!
If your answer is relevant to the job role you are applying to, it signals to the interviewer that you understand the role well and are already streamlining your thoughts and energy towards the same. It is, therefore, essential that your uniqueness should be in the context of how well you qualify for the job instead of just some random unique trait you possess.
The interviewer, when she puts you a question on your unique qualities, is trying to know how much more value you can bring to her team compared to other people who might have applied for the same role. She does not want to hear unique things about you that are of no relevance to the job. Therefore, talking about your personal inclinations and accomplishments may do you little or no good. Brief references to personal life are fine but you should primarily focus on the unique value you can potentially bring to your team instead of your own quirks.
Make a list of your strongest points and talk of them when asked about what makes you unique. It is always better to back them up with results you achieved owing to the same traits. For example, instead of just saying how analytical your mind is, talks of one particular example where you drew a brilliant insight out of data and helped your company make a profitable decision.
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Is there a project on your professional portfolio that won you glorious rewards? Why not use it to your advantage at the next job interview? Prepare an answer with a broad overview of the project, your role in it and how you went about achieving what you achieved. Elucidating your unique accomplishment is one of the best ways of letting the interviewer know how much value you could potentially add to their team.
Different jobs demand different skill sets and therefore different personality traits in the people holding them. The same trait that makes you an ideal candidate for one job profile can make you less desirable for another. For example, while research-oriented profiles may be great for an introvert who can work singularly most of the time, sales job recruiters may see the same traits as a red flag.
Therefore, how you position yourself should be a function of which job you are applying to. Make a list of the desirable traits and focus your answer on what makes you unique? on one of the same traits.
Some companies have an open work culture and appreciate creativity and out-of-the-box thinking while others prefer abiding by convention. When an interviewer asks you about what makes you stand out, they want to hear an answer that helps them see how well you align with the company’s values compared to the other candidates.
If you have not already made it a point to study the company’s profile you are seeking to work with, start doing so now. And prepare your pitch according to what you read.
The interviewer will probably ask the same question to all or most other candidates applying for the job. Ensure your answer makes you stand out and creates a positive impression of you. When answering question about the uniqueness you have in you, try to focus your answer on the unique values that you can offer in your job and that which makes you more productive for the employer.