How To Reply To “What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates”?

Published on: 9 June 2021 Last updated: 9 June 2021

You nailed your CV and you got invited for your dream interview.

But don’t think that you’re hired just yet. There is still a lot to go through to get your dream job.

You’ve got your interview, but so did many more people who want the job as much as you do.

That’s a lot of competition and it inevitably raises the question “What sets you apart from other candidates?”.

It’s a tough one, but don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. After reading the article, you will be good and ready to answer that question with confidence.

What we’re going to cover sums up in:

  • Why Do Interviewers Ask “What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates?
  • Preparations to answer “What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates?
  • The best answer you can give the interviewers in various occasions
  • The most common mistakes to avoid

If not only this, but many more questions intimidate you before your big interview, you should check out these 5 Tricky As Hell Job Interview Questions or our awesome services – they will really help you to Nail Your Next Job Interview.

And don’t forget – the interviewer is not the only one allowed to ask questions. Before your big interview, consider what Questions To Ask Your Future Manager Before Joining The Team.

Dive in with us and we will get you ready and confident.

Why Do Interviewers Ask “What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates?”

Hiring managers ask this question to find what specifically you can bring to the table. They want to know more about you and your unique qualifications.

Don’t waste their time by explaining why every other candidate sucks, focus on your own advantages.

This question combines “Tell me more about yourself” and “What are your strengths?”, but requires a slightly different answer.

What the hiring manager wants to know here is what you can offer to the position that no one else can. Tricky!

They want to learn more about your relevant experience and strengths.

When you are asked “What sets you apart from other candidates?”, you have the opportunity to share your unique talents and goals with the future employer.

Use the opportunity to share what you hope to do in this position. By being specific with that answer, you are showing the hiring manager that you are an ambitious candidate.

Imagine being in the position of the hiring manager with dozens of professionals with nearly identical skill sets, applying for the same position. Is it going to be easy to pick the right one?

Here comes the question. You need to show the hiring manager that you are a better fit for the job than all these other professionals.

Remember: avoid cookie-cutter responses. Employers don’t want to hear that. You should keep in mind the job description, but try to also think outside of the box.

You need to figure out what makes you special and what you can offer to the job.

Try picturing yourself in the employer’s place. Determine why you would hire yourself, instead of someone else. That would definitely increase your chances.

Another reason employers ask this question is to understand what you value about yourself. The things you mention in your answer will be critical strengths you are currently improving.

Preparation to answer “What Sets You Apart From Other Candidates?”

The first thing you need to do before answering this question, and before the interview, is to do your research on the job description and the company.

If you skip this research, the hiring manager would know, and will probably choose a candidate who did the extra steps for the job.

So don’t skip your homework. It is crucial.

Another thing you need to do is relate your background to the current position’s requirements.

Think back on situations in your previous companies when you were really successful and got significant recognition for your work. Think about all the skills and abilities that helped you achieve that success.

Your past accomplishments are likely to be strongly appreciated by a new employer, so you should mention them.

This isn’t one of those questions where you have to be humble. This is a question where you need to show some real confidence.

If you need help to look more confident, we got you covered again with our Body Language Tips.

You don’t need to be modest, the employer actually wants you to brag a bit.

So you should answer with confidence and tell the hiring manager directly why they should hire you, instead of any of the other candidates, and what sets you apart.

Another thing you need to keep in mind is that you should not be too intimidated by the word “unique”. Employers are looking for interesting skills, but they don’t expect something they have not heard before.

Instead of thinking of uniqueness of yours, focus on why your hiring would benefit the employer.

That way you can give them a more confident and, as a whole, better answer.

What sets you apart from other applicants best answers

You Speak Another Language

A fluency in another language is always a great advantage that you should bring up on your job interview, no matter the position.

Here is a great example of how to do it right:

A unique talent that I can bring to the table is my fluency in Swedish. I see that your company is trying to broaden your reach to the Scandinavian region, making this skill a valuable asset. If you ever need someone to speak to a client who speaks Swedish or translate something, I would love to help. While learning Swedish, I also spent over a year in Sweden. This would make me a top candidate for the many business trips I see this position requires. I have the ability to acclimate to new cultures and make meaningful connections with clients overseas.

Having International Experience

Having international experience instantly raises you above many candidates, so don’t hesitate sharing that with the hiring manager.

Here is what your answer should look like:

What sets me apart from other candidates is my organization skills. During my internship with my last employer, I managed a project that required me to put these skills to use by creating marketing campaigns and brand recognition strategies, and the result was 83% raise of engagement in our social networks. In addition to being highly organized and detail-oriented, I am fluent in 3 languages and have had extensive experience working with international partners. This experience will allow me to excel in this role and hit the ground running.

Coming From Different Industries

Even coming from a different industry can be played out as an advantage for you. It adds significant value due to the ability to view the organization’s challenges from a different perspective, compared to other candidates’ one-sided approach.

Don’t believe us? Check out this awesome example and see for yourself:

I noticed on the job description that you’re looking for someone who can manage projects and communicate directly with clients, too. One piece of experience that sets me apart from other candidates is my background in software project management in a medium-sized company, where I was asked to do exactly this – be the project manager speaking with the clients, but also manage everything internally. So I think I’d have a unique advantage in this role, and would be able to get up to speed faster and contribute more quickly than other candidates.

Flexibility

Being flexible and open minded is a very important quality that not everyone has. It is particularly important if you want to start working with a startup company.

Check out this awesome example:

The unique skill that I can bring to your company is my ability to take any task up and get jobs done quickly and efficiently. Having already worked at a small startup before, I am used to taking on additional responsibilities outside of my usual field of work, and I am always keen to get involved with new areas of the business. I understand the importance of being open minded and flexible, particularly within a startup environment.

Original Thinking

Original thinking is one of the most important personal traits you could have. That makes you the person with the ideas, the one everyone depends on for innovative thinking.

If you are wondering how to present that quality of yours, check out our example:

I think one of the main qualities that makes me unique and different from other applicants, is my ability to come up with very innovative ideas. I have always been a very creative person, throughout college and high school my ideas were often the final choice in group projects, and all my friends come to me if they need ideas for anything at all! I would love the opportunity to bring my creative spark to this role and your company.

The Most Common Mistakes to Avoid When Answering

  • Be professional and concise
  • Do not mention other candidates or talk negatively about them
  • Do not self-promote or brag about your successes

When it comes to mistakes when answering “What sets you apart from other candidates?”, the biggest one that you could make is not having an answer.

Sarcastic answer is no better either.

What you want to do here is be professional and concise.

Anything else is a mistake.

The other big downturn you can make is not having done your research about the job position and the company.

There is no way for you to answer this question relevantly, if you don’t know what the position is or what the company’s beliefs are.

And finally, when answering this question, keep the answer straight forward and about yourself.

Don’t waste your time talking negatively about other candidates, that does not work in your favour.

Takeaways: What Sets You Apart from Other Candidates Interview Question

Now you know how to answer “What sets you apart from other candidates?”.

You know the motives behind the question, as well as how to answer it.

Keep in mind our awesome examples and modify them according to the position you are interviewing for.

Don’t skip on making your research about the job position and the company, and don’t speak negatively about other candidates, keep the answer about yourself.

Now go and show the hiring manager that you are the perfect fit for your dream job!

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What are your thoughts? How have you distinguished yourself from other candidates up until now? Give us a shout out in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you!

Kal Dimitrov

Kal has 10 years of experience as a marketer and lecturer in youth leader organisations, with a focus on career and job skills enhancement. He has written and edited over 100 resume creation guides for different jobs. Kal is also a co-founder of a career accelerator hub that helps students and recent graduates excel at job interviews and get the job of their dreams.

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