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What Makes You Unique? [Answer for the Interview Question]

What Makes You Unique? [Answer for the Interview Question]

Tell us what makes you unique.

 

It’s a teeth-chattering interview question.

 

Answer wrong, and the interviewer thinks, next!

 

Choke, and someone else gets that fat job, 401k and flexible hours.

 

Don’t worry.

 

There’s a good reason employers love this interview question.

 

There’s also a time-tested way to answer it right.

 

This guide will show you:

 

  • What they mean by what makes you unique.
  • Great what makes me unique sample answers.
  • How to answer the what makes you unique interview question so the recruiter knows you’re perfect for the job.
  • Why an achievement is the best answer to what makes you different (and other versions of this question).

 

And if you want to make sure you’ll turn every interview into a job offer, get our free checklist: 42 Things You Need to Do Before, During, and After Your Big Interview.

  

Want to land more job interviews? Create the perfect resume in our builder:

 

  1. Pick a professional template.
  2. Get expert resume tips from recruiters.
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Start getting more job offers. See 20+ resume templates and create your resume.

 

sample resume templates

Sample resume made with our builder — See 20+ templates and create your resume here

 

 

 

Want to discover job-winning answers to other tricky job interview questions? Read our dedicated guides with proven tips and sample answers:

 

 

Or, visit these guides for in-depth interview help:

 

 

Now let’s look at how to answer what makes you unique:

 

1

What Is the What Makes You Unique Interview Question About?

 

Here’s a nightmare:

 

The interviewer says, “Tell us what makes you unique.”

 

Your palms sweat. You stutter. Out pops a half-baked reply.

 

A gulf opens between you and that dream job.

 

Why is this interview question hard to answer?

 

Because you don’t know what the interviewer wants.

 

So—

 

Let’s peek into the employer’s mind.

 

Employer Asks:

 

  • What makes you unique?
  • What makes you stand out from other candidates / applicants?
  • Tell us something unique about yourself.
  • What makes you you?
  • What makes you who you are?
  • Tell me something interesting about yourself.
  • Tell me something about yourself.

 

Employer Means:

 

  • What makes you qualified for this position?

 

See that?

 

What makes you unique doesn’t mean, “How are you different?”

 

It means, “How are you different in the perfect way to fit this job?”

 

To paraphrase G.I. Joe, knowing that is half the battle.

 

These what makes you unique sample answers show why:

 

What Makes You Unique Interview Question Examples

 

Both examples below are for a job in customer service. The job ad emphasizes a cheerful attitude.

 

right

Something unique about me is that I’m the most cheerful person I know.

 

When I was a boy, my dad repeatedly told friends and family he had 15 nieces and nephews, but he’d never seen a kid like me. At Petrovich Management, 95% of the customers who called were very angry by the time they spoke with me. I took their anger in stride. I spent time to learn where they were coming from and made sure they knew I understood them. Then I worked to solve their problems within the framework of our company policies. Technically I wasn’t doing anything different than any of the other 120 customer agents on my floor. I really think my upbeat attitude is why my customer satisfaction scores were 20% above the company average.

wrong
What makes me unique for a job is I have a big heart. I really care about other people. When my mother was sick two years ago I took time off work to take care of her. My friends always say I’m the most caring person they know.

 

Massive difference.

 

The second of those what makes me unique examples is actually really nice.

 

But—

 

The first knows what the job wants.

 

See, what makes a person unique is interesting. What makes you qualified for this position will get you hired.

 

Pro Tip: What makes you unique in a way that fits the job? That comes down to the most important job skill. I’ll show you how to find that next.

 

Want answers to other questions besides What makes me unique for a job? See our guide: Common Job Interview Questions & Answers

 

2

How to Answer What Makes You Unique Interview Questions

 

Now you know what the what makes you unique interview question really means.

 

But—

 

How do you answer what makes you special?

 

There are three simple steps:

 

1. Know What the Job Needs

 

The more you know about the job, the better you’ll answer the what makes me unique interview question.

 

So—

 

What does the job require?

 

Find that in the job posting.

 

Look at this sample job ad:

 

Sample Job Posting for Tell Us What Makes You Unique Question

 

sample job posting

 

So—

 

What does that employer want?

 

They want a project manager. One who can do upgrades at client properties.

 

The perfect candidate has strong project management skills, organization skills, communication skills, and collaboration skills.

 

2. Find Your Biggest Achievement That Fits

 

Let’s continue the tell us what makes you unique example above.

 

Don’t just say, “Something unique about me is strong skills in project management, organization, collaboration, and communication.”

 

Anyone can say that.

 

Instead, prove it with an achievement.

 

For instance, maybe in a past job you finished 175 client upgrade projects. You used organization skills to plan them.

 

Then you communicated and collaborated with 30 team members to deliver.

 

That’s an answer to what makes me unique that fits the job.

 

Now let’s make it the perfect answer.

 

3. Answer What Makes You Unique and How it Helped the Company

 

When someone asks what makes you unique, it’s not enough to tell about a matching achievement.

 

To get hired, you must say how it helped the company.

 

Let’s use the what makes me unique example from above.

 

Remember, the job does upgrade projects at lots of client properties.

 

Look at these two what makes you unique sample answers:

 

right

Something unique about me? I really enjoy pulling together all the resources and people needed to finish multiple on-site upgrade projects.

 

At Perrault & Cakefield, I was in charge of project management at 50 client properties. I finished about 150 per year—on average 3 days ahead of schedule. I consistently came in 15% under-budget. I developed relationships with 30 local suppliers. Through those relationships, I worked deals that drove down project costs by 25%. It all came down to one thing—I love working with people to do what it takes to complete a schedule of ongoing projects onsite.

wrong
What makes me unique for a job? I love figuring out how things work. I’m always tinkering and taking things apart. My wife says I’d take apart my own head if I could find the screws!

 

The first of those tell us what makes you unique examples glitters.

 

Employers will notice it because it’s creative and fits the job requirements.

 

Pro Tip: To answer what makes you different, you need to know the company’s needs. Look in the job offer, but also reach out to employees on LinkedIn. Research the organization online too.

 

If you give a really awesome what makes you unique answer, they’ll ask follow-ups. For instance, if everything was so great, why did you leave? See our guide: Reasons for Leaving a Job: Best Explanation for This Interview Question

 

3

Five What Makes You Unique Sample Answers

 

Imagine this:

 

You gave the perfect what makes you unique answer.

 

You impressed the hiring manager and she hired you on the spot.

 

Let’s make that real.

 

These what makes you unique sample answers will guide your steps.

 

Note how each one says:

 

  1. What makes you stand out from other candidates in a way that fits the job.
  2. A challenge the company faced.
  3. How the candidate’s uniqueness helped the company.

 

Tell Us What Makes You Unique Sample Answers

 

For an accountant job that requires a strong knowledge of GAAP:

 

I like keeping my working knowledge of GAAP limber. I enjoy applying it to the efficiency of a corporate system.

 

For example, it wasn’t possible for my last company to compile actual cost data in real time. Without completely altering our existing cost-structure, we had to manage cost standards and conform them to our actual costs. I conducted an in-depth review of capitalizable costs. I implemented a monthly cost-update schedule. I also initiated a standard-to-actual reserve in our balance sheet. We were able to completely eliminate year-end inventory adjustments. That saved us 100 accounting hours each year. We also gained a better understanding of our production costs. Because of that, we were able to slash costs 20% over the next five years, saving $1.3 million. That all came from my passion for knowing GAAP like the back of my hand.

 

For a graphic designer job that creates brochures, magazines, and websites for high-profile clients:

 

What makes me unique? I thrive in an environment of creating design excellence for high-end clients. That includes websites, magazines, and other print materials that surpass expectations.

 

For example, at Poulin-Daviau Designs, we took on three new clients during our busy season. They were Disney, Royal Caribbean, and Six Flags, so we really had to make an impression fast. In three months I had to pull together gorgeous deliverables for 10 brochures, two magazines, and two websites, and they all had to be top quality. Not only did all three clients gush about the results, but our existing client list was very happy with the work we produced during that time. We turned all three new clients into repeat business, booking over $100,000 for the coming year.

 

The next of our what makes you unique sample answers really nails it. It’s for a software engineer job that needs Agile experience.

 

What is unique about me? I shine when it comes to designing and developing elegant software in an Agile environment.

 

When we switched to Agile three years ago at Kenyatrode, I took to it instantly. It spoke to my core belief in efficiency and removing impediments to getting the job done. I was chosen as a team mentor to get buy-in from 15 other software engineers. We got 100% participation in test-first programming, continuous integration, pair programming, and all other core Agile software development practices. As a result, customer satisfaction scores went up 25% in the next six months and time-to-completion dropped by 40% per project.

 

For an engineering job that requires strong continuous improvement skills:

 

What makes me unique is that I live and breathe continuous improvement.

 

At BAE Systems, I was tasked with supporting engineering design, test, modifications, and specialized test equipment in the antenna department. We had a strong continuous improvement program, and I bought into it 100%. I was really excited by how it removed employee frustrations while improving quality, cost, and time. For example, incorporating CI into our design process allowed us to slash rework by 45%, cut inventory 40%, and shorten our takt time average per product from 3 days to 3 hours. All in all, the CI efforts I was directly involved in led to annual cost savings of $1.5 million.

 

The next of our what makes you unique sample answers is for a nurse job. It wants a hardworking, efficient nurse with excellent teamwork skills:

 

Why am I unique? I love working hard in a team of skilled nurses.

 

At General Hospital, I was part of a great team of nurses who really knew their stuff. I worked on a 30-bed ward. The hospital had a low HCAHPS score of 3.5 stars. Our nursing scores were 15% below the national average. I was tasked with putting together a committee to find the problem and raise those scores. We discovered that the issue wasn’t poor nursing care, but roadblocks in communication between doctors and patients. We worked with management, doctors, and other nurses to remove communication roadblocks. With very little effort, we were able to raise HCAHPS scores 20% above average for the country. My passion for working hard in a team of skilled nurses was a big contributor to that.

 

See that?

 

Each of those what makes you unique sample answers shows exactly what the job is looking for.

 

Great what makes me unique answers don’t just say, “I’ve got XYZ skill.”

 

They say, “I’ve got XYZ skill, and here’s a story showing how that helped my company.”

 

Pro Tip: Add metrics to your tell us what makes you unique answer. What are metrics? Those are %, $, and other numbers that show how massive your achievement was.

 

Most of the what makes you unique sample answers in this guide use the S.T.A.R. method. To nail it, see our guide: STAR Method for Acing Behavioral Interview Questions

 

4

Pick Great Achievements for a What Makes You Unique Answer

 

Uh-oh.

 

You chose the wrong achievement for your what makes me unique answer.

 

Now the hiring manager is daydreaming about Better Call Saul while you talk.

 

So what are the most impressive achievements to answer what makes you unique?

 

The best ones show you used job-fitting skills to:

 

  • Cut costs X%.
  • Raise revenue by X%.
  • Improve quality X%.
  • Save X hours per week.
  • Raise customer review scores X%.
  • Train X employees.
  • Cut waste X%.
  • Receive X professional award.

 

Plus, these answers start with power verbs that recruiters just love to hear.

 

How to Answer Tell Us What Makes You Unique in 150 Characters

 

You may need to answer what makes you special on a job application.

 

And you might have a really tight character limit so be brief!

 

Here are two what makes me unique 150 characters examples:

 

Q: In 150 characters or fewer, tell us what makes you unique. Try to be creative and say something that will catch our eye!

  

I’m cheerful!

 

At my last job, I handled mostly angry customer calls. Thanks to my great attitude, my customer scores were 20% above company average.

 

Q: In 150 characters, what makes you different?

 

I live and breathe continuous improvement.

 

At BAE, I contributed to $1.5 million in CI savings. My passion helped cut rework 45%, and inventory 40%.

 

Those what makes me unique sample answers pack a punch in just a couple sentences.

 

Pro Tip: Got lots of professional achievements? Don’t know where to start? Pick the one most central to the job. That’s always the best way to answer what makes you unique.

 

What makes you different is really a situational interview question in disguise. The best answer talks about a situation. See our guide: 20 Situational Interview Questions and Answers to Nail Your Interview

 

Key Takeaway

 

Here’s a recap. How to answer what makes you unique:

 

  1. Know why they’re asking what makes you unique. In brief, they want to know why you’re better than others for this job.
  2. Review tell us what makes you unique sample answers. They’ll show you how to word your what makes you different answer.
  3. Know what the job requires. To do that, read the job ad with care. Research the company online too.
  4. Pick a quality or skill that makes you unique and fits their needs. Talk about how you used that skill to reach a big achievement.
  5. Add metrics like $, %, and other numbers to show how big your achievement was.

 

Got more questions about how to answer the what makes me unique interview question? Need more sample answers or examples? Not sure what makes you special? Leave a comment. We’ll be happy to reply! 

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Tom Gerencer
Tom Gerencer is a career expert who has published over 200 in-depth articles on Zety. Since 2016, he has been sharing advice on all things recruitment from writing winning resumes and cover letters to getting a promotion.
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