What Makes You Unique? 6 Best Answers to This Interview Question

Most interviewers ask their interviewees stock questions. One that continuously trips many people up is, “What makes you unique?”

Whether you’re an inexperienced applicant, shifting careers, or an expert in your field, everyone has the capacity to answer this interview question easily and honestly. You just have to know how. Check out our tips and sample answers to get started!

Why Do Employers Want to Know What Makes You Unique?

Before coming up with an answer as to what makes you unique from others, consider what the employer wants to hear from you. You’ll have a better idea of which direction to steer your answer toward (while still giving a genuine answer about why you’re unique in a job application).

1. Understanding Your Best Qualities

Your potential employer wants to learn more than what you’ve already stated in your resume/CV. This includes other abilities and skills that might put you ahead of other candidates.

This question invites you to highlight your relevant achievements, experience, skills, and personality traits. This is the time to let them know what you’d be bringing to the team.

2. Measuring Your Confidence

Knowing what makes you a unique candidate for a job is a great way to showcase your confidence. While it’s certainly not the sole measure of success in the workplace, your self-assurance can allude to your work ethic (and how you get tasks done).

Talking about your unique capabilities can also help leave a good first impression. To avoid sounding arrogant, it’s recommended to answer this question in a measured way.

3. Gauging Potential for Growth

Employers want to hire people who are driven, lifelong learners. Knowing what makes you unique might help these assessors determine your growth potential (both professionally and personally).

Your answer also helps them know if you can grow with them and align with the company’s long-term goals.

4. Knowing If You’re Right for the Company Culture

Employers also need to consider how interviewees will fit into the company culture. Your unique qualities and personality should align with the company’s team culture and work ethic. After all, a good hire should add a positive dynamic that builds a stronger team bond.

5. Learning How Passionate You Are

Passionate employees tend to be more motivated and innovative. Therefore, recruiters want employees that are self-motivated about their work.

If you know what makes you a unique candidate, you can show your passion for driving more measurable results.

How to Answer the Question: What Makes You Unique?

What makes you unique?—Man interviewing another man in a café setting


Once you have a clearer idea of what potential employers might be looking for, it’s time to learn how exactly you’re supposed to answer the question.

1. Recall a Memory

Think of a time when your actions positively impacted a company you worked for. You may have come across a typo on the company website. You might have found some discrepancies in a particular report that saved the business serious time or money.

Be sure to mention the specific skills highlighted by your actions and how your manager reacted to the situation.

2. Use What Others Often Compliment You About

Do you possess a certain positive quality or trait which people often tell you about? Compliments include favorable first impressions or specific characteristics that set you apart from other people.

This could come from your friends, family, colleagues, or clients.

3. Bring Up Your Greatest Achievement

Let’s say you’re applying for a role in which you already have experience. Were you an employee of the month? Did you get a sales bonus? Let your employer know about your greatest achievements in that position.

It doesn’t always have to be an actual event or award. Sometimes, it can relate to a situation where you handled a complicated situation or addressed a problem with noteworthy success.

Note: Whenever possible, use metrics to highlight your achievements.

4. Mention a Fulfilling Moment

If you don’t have significant skills or achievements to highlight, talk about a fulfilling moment in your career. This can include the following:

  • Methods you used to turn a challenge into a success
  • How you shifted your mindset on your career or company goals fulfilled your tasks
  • Ways that you helped a colleague or client

Back this up with a short anecdote. Ensure it can relate to the job position you’re applying for.

5. Think of Your Best Productive Habits

Employers want to see how productive a candidate will be when they become a team member. To help them evaluate how much you can contribute to the company, mention that you’ve taken productivity books, have studied online courses, and have even taken on more work when a colleague was struggling.

6. Consider Your Best Skill

If you want to let the interviewer know about a particular skill that isn’t on your resume (but is still relevant to the job), feel free to bring it up. This could be anything from an acquired skill you’ve learned along the way or a certification that few candidates possess.

9 Tips to Improve and Refine Your Interview Answer

Two people standing and shaking hands after interview


While the previous section is a great jumping-off point, there are a few more tips to refine your answer and successfully explain what sets you apart as a candidate.

1. Do Your Research

Research and review the job requirements, job description, and the company before the interview. This way, you’ll better understand how to tailor your responses and ensure that they align with the company’s needs.

2. Choose One or Two Skills

Although having plenty of skills is a plus, reciting all of them could make your interviewer pay less attention. After all, you’re supposed to include these elements in your resume.

It’s best to mention one or two of your best skills/qualities and ensure they’re relevant to the job description (unless the interviewer specifically asks about them).

3. Be Honest

Your potential employer already knows that you’re trying to impress them. Make sure that you’re interviewing with honesty and sincerity. Don’t be the candidate who exaggerates their capabilities without the ability to follow through.

4. Make It Clear and Concise

Keep your answer short and to the point. Feel free to add anecdotes to your answers (but avoid going off-topic or rambling).

5. Focus on the Role

Always try to tie your answer back to the job. Relate your skillset, work ethic, and best qualities to the description while emphasizing how these can benefit the company. This way, you’ll make it easier for the recruiter to evaluate you for the position in question.

For example, while being a team player is a great skill to have, it’s considerably more attractive when applying for a team-oriented position (like a marketing manager or HR recruiter). More independent roles like graphic designer, technical writer, or accountant require significantly less social interaction.

6. Avoid Generic Answers

“I’m a hard worker.”

“I’m a lifelong learner.”

If you’re considering using these answers, they’re clichés for a reason. You can still use them to respond to questions, but be sure that you’re wording them in a unique and refreshing way.

For example, instead of just saying you’re a hard worker, start with the following:

 “I have a resilient mindset when faced with unexpected situations in the office. I work hard and exhaust all available options to get the job done. I demonstrated this quality when….”

7. Listen Actively

Observe your interviewer’s questions and responses as the interview progresses. Doing so will help you tailor your answer accordingly. Be ready to improve your answer on the fly.

8. Use the STAR Method

The STAR Method (Situation, Task, Action, and Result) is a great way to produce answers during interviews. Instead of simply listing which skills set you apart, demonstrate your uniqueness with a story. Provide a specific example of your unique qualities in action.

9. Practice

With a friend or relative, practice your answer with someone. Accept their feedback to further improve your response and confidence.

What Makes You Unique: Sample Answers

Two women in casual office meeting for interview

We’ve created industry-appropriate answers to help you determine how to construct a better response.

1. I’m an Efficient Worker

One of my best traits is my ability to pick up work and get it done promptly and efficiently. I used to work in a smaller company before, so I understand the importance of being flexible in everything I do. If it means getting work done sooner, I’m happy to lend a hand with responsibilities outside of my area.”

Describe what sets you apart by highlighting a personal skill that applies to the rest of the company. In this case, the candidate used their past experience to establish a useful trait for the company.

2. I Take Failure as an Avenue for Improvement

“Failure is an essential part of learning, no matter your field. I see it as a way to grow and improve the different aspects of my life. I’m not afraid to take risks if it means I get to have new experiences and improve my perspective. Due to a machine error, I once miscounted inventory, resulting in backlogs for a month. After that, I worked to develop a system that prevented those instances, leading to the company speeding up processes by about 30%.”

Anyone can say they are willing to take risks and accept failure in their work. Make your answer more compelling by giving them an example of how you turned a dire situation around and improved the company.

3. I Communicate Well with Others

I communicate well with others, making it easier for my colleagues to approach me with any potential issue. Communication is the backbone of any good team, so wherever I go, I ensure that I emphasize dialog with care and empathy.”

Emphasizing people skills is incredibly helpful for candidates seeking leadership roles. Communication skills, conflict resolution, empathy, and compassion are some of the skills you can highlight.

4. I Trained People and Developed a Program for My Previous Company

“I used to be one of the training managers at my previous company. I would get invited into several sessions several times a month to train in leadership and mindfulness courses. Eventually, I was able to develop the company’s first-ever learning program in that field.”

This answer pairs well with candidates applying for leadership roles. Whenever applicable, construct an answer that combines your achievements and how you demonstrated being a coach or an initiator.

5. I Have the Necessary Skills from Experience at My Previous Company.

“I have skills and experience I can uniquely apply in this job from my time as a marketing manager at [my previous company]. For example…”

If you’re a candidate who’s trying to shift career paths, improve your chances of standing out by applying your experience from previous work opportunities.

Avoid Saying These Things During a Job Interview

Casual interview with two men sitting at wooden table

Remember that a coherent answer is more important than an exceptional response. If you’re nervous, just remember to breathe, present the key ideas of your answer, and speak spontaneously with certainty.

More importantly, ensure that you avoid the following elements when constructing your answer.

Negative Responses

Avoid answers that can undermine your company, colleagues, and even yourself:

  • “My coworkers were a mess, but I always ensured we met our deadlines.”
  • “My colleagues would be lost without me.”

If you want to mention a negative experience in the past, say it constructively and finish with a positive outcome. You might say the company wasn’t a great fit for your talents and work ethic:

  • “My coworkers preferred an individualistic approach to tasks, whereas I thrive in a communicative environment where teammates work together towards a common goal.”

From there, follow up with the elements you can bring to the table and how you’re aligned with the interviewing company’s values.

Contradictory Explanations

It’s less likely to give contradictory statements when you stay concise and honest. Organize your thoughts before explaining yourself.

Before the interview, consider establishing your key ideas so you don’t have to memorize a lengthy script. Even if the interview diverges from your rehearsed statements, you’ll have something to fall back on.

Going Off Track

Keep your answer short but impactful enough for your prospective employer to remember you. Avoid rambling or going off on tangents.

Again, focus on what’s relevant to the job and what you want the interviewer to remember about you.

Don’t Be Defensive

Avoid being defensive if your prospective employer asks a follow-up question. Interviewers often pose challenging answers to try and throw candidates off. Stay composed, remember your answer, and respond carefully.

Avoid Vague Statements

There’s nothing interviewers hate more than general, cliché answers. A vague response can easily indicate that you haven’t thoroughly considered the question. Moreover, you may give off the impression that even you don’t recognize your own unique qualities, skills, or experiences.

Always be as specific as you can.

Don’t Brag

There’s a line between showcasing your unique strengths and boasting. Practice your interview to make sure you avoid coming across as arrogant.

Try to present your unique qualities while acknowledging room for improvement:

“I am a great communicator with strong opinions I’m not afraid to share. That said, I’m not always correct but am open to constructive criticism.”

Remain Honest

No matter what happens or what you have to say, don’t lie or exaggerate your answers. For example, if you don’t have the expertise needed for the job, you can say:

“While I don’t meet all the technical requirements, I am more than capable of learning quickly and working hard to contribute to the company.”

Note: Think about how your unique qualities can accomplish your promise!

Final Thoughts

It’s nerve-wracking when an employer asks what makes you unique. While it seems intimidating at first glance, a little preparation can give you a memorable and impactful answer.

Remember: The key components of a good answer include remaining humble, honest, composed, confident, and concise. Good luck with your job interview!


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Emma Collins is a tech writer for Productivity Spot. She's been writing tech tutorials & how-to guides on Windows, Android, iOS, Social Media, Data Recovery, Cybersecurity, Gaming, and more as a tech writer for over 6 years. You can find her work on many established tech websites, including Hackr.io, MakeUseOf, Help Desk Geek, Online Tech Tips, Switching To Mac, HandyRecovery, Cleverfiles, and more.

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