How to answer "What do you think sets you apart from other candidates for this role?" (with sample answers)

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This post is part of our series on behavioral interview questions.

Why Employers Ask This?

Employers want to find the right person for the job. When they ask this question, they are looking for a candidate who not only meets the qualifications for the role, but also has something unique to offer. Hiring managers want to know what sets you apart from other candidates and what value you can bring to the company that no one else can.

This question also enables the interviewer to assess your level of self-awareness, confidence, and ability to communicate effectively. Your answer provides insight into what you consider to be your strongest traits and what makes you a good fit for the role and the company culture.

Therefore, it’s crucial to prepare an answer that showcases your strengths and experiences that can set you apart from other candidates and make you the best choice for the job.

How to Answer the Question

When answering this question, it’s essential to highlight your qualities that align with the job description and the organization's values. Here are some tips:

  1. Research the Company and the Role: Understanding the company’s mission, values, and culture will help you tailor your answer to what the organization needs and expects from its employees.
  2. Identify Your Unique Selling Points: Identify your strengths, skills, experiences that make you stand out from other candidates. Provide real examples that demonstrate your abilities in action.
  3. Be Authentic: Avoid generic answers and be genuine about your accomplishments and how you can bring value to the company.
  4. Don't Compare Yourself to Other Candidates: Focus on what you can offer and don’t worry about other candidates that applied for the role. Highlight your qualities, not others’ shortcomings.

Remember that while self-promotion is key in this question, don’t come across as arrogant or boastful. It’s all about striking the right balance and connecting your unique strengths and achievements to the company you’re interviewing with.

Sample answers

  1. Bad answer: "I don't really know what sets me apart from other candidates. I'm just hoping to do my best and let the hiring manager decide."

    Explanation: This answer shows a lack of self-awareness and doesn't highlight any specific skills or experiences that make the candidate stand out. The hiring manager is looking for someone who can showcase their strengths and communicate why they are the best fit for the role.

  2. Good answer: "I believe that my extensive experience working with XYZ software and my ability to work well under pressure make me a strong fit for this role. Additionally, my track record of consistently meeting and exceeding deadlines sets me apart from other candidates."

    Explanation: This answer highlights specific skills and experiences that make the candidate stand out, while also demonstrating their confidence in their abilities. By mentioning their track record of success, the candidate is providing concrete evidence of why they are the best fit for the role.

  3. Bad answer: "Well, nothing really sets me apart from other candidates. There are probably plenty of people just as qualified, if not more so, than me."

    Explanation: This answer shows a lack of confidence and doesn't provide any specific reasons why the candidate is a good fit for the role. This can make them come across as unenthusiastic or uninspired, which is not a desirable quality in a potential hire.

  4. Good answer: "I believe that my experience in both customer service and project management gives me a unique perspective and skillset that sets me apart from other candidates. Additionally, I'm highly adaptable and able to quickly pivot when faced with unexpected challenges, which has been an asset in my previous roles."

    Explanation: This answer highlights the candidate's specific experiences and abilities, and demonstrates how those qualities make them a strong fit for the role. By mentioning their adaptability and problem-solving skills, the candidate is also showing that they are proactive and solutions-oriented.

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