There are a few questions that you can often expect to be asked during an interview. “What makes you stand out among your peers?” is commonly heard in interviews for good reason. While some interview questions have completely different subliminal intentions- the true goal of asking this is closely related to the original question itself- inquiring about your specific attributes that you would bring to the position. Within today’s job pool there are many candidates seemingly qualified for certain positions- and interviewers look to find some distinguishing characteristics to determine the ideal candidate. This helps them to select the best individual possible.
A candidate who can bring unique qualities and traits to the position that would benefit both the individual in completing the role and the business as a whole will stand out amongst other applicants. In essence this question gives you an opportunity to leave a lasting impression with the interviewer and for you to inform them of your superior abilities and character traits that set you apart from the competition. By taking time to fully understand this goal and how to properly answer the question- you can give yourself a leg up during your interview process.
How to Answer the “What Makes You Stand Out Among Your Peers?” Interview Question
Focus on Your Key Qualities: When answering “What makes you stand out among your peers?” and related interview questions- intentionally focus on the characteristics and attributes that you will bring to the position and do not harp on what you believe other candidates may lack. Talking negatively about other candidates may cause you to appear “catty-” may not be true or valid- and is a waste of your limited interview time. Instead spend time talking about your qualities that apply to the position at hand. If you do this correctly you will naturally be a more attractive candidate than those who do not.
Do Not Brag: You do not want to appear prideful- because this can reflect poorly upon you- but you should put your best foot forward. To walk this fine line- you must stick to the facts and provide quality details to support your claims. However- you do not want to harp on any one subject too much. Give one or two strong examples that support your key outstanding attributes and paint a clear picture of your applicable abilities.
Support Your Claims With Experiences: The best way to validate your claims is by providing unique examples of your experience. Remember- during the first interview the interviewer is taking your word for face value and usually does not check facts until later in the hiring process. Having detailed examples can help to validate your claims on both your resume and during your time together. Your experiences can also make you more memorable than other candidates. Make sure that your story is relevant to the position that you are seeking and provide details- while keeping it concise and to the point.
Do Not Regurgitate Your Resume: For the most part interviewers will have already reviewed your resume before deciding to interview you. Therefore- it will not do well for you to repeat what they have already read. In fact- many interviewers are looking to learn more about you- so it is helpful if you volunteer such information. This also allows you to control such prying and avoid being caught off guard. Of course it is good to mention things that you have on your resume for continuity- but rather than saying the same thing or rephrasing it- take time to discuss relevant experiences that you have had in the positions you have listed. This helps to give a personal touch and to bring your experience to life in the eyes of the interviewer.
Sample “What Makes You Stand Out Among Your Peers?” Interview Answers
1. Through my previous positions in different industries I have amassed and honed a unique skill set that makes me a well-rounded and versatile worker. I am able to tackle issues with a wide perspective and formulate effective problem resolution options. In my jobs I have also had the opportunity to work with and under people with various personality types- so I am able to understand and work with different work styles- which helps me with team projects as well as when working on projects independently. These traits- along with my genuine desire to help others and knack for organization- help to set me apart from my peers.
2. In my previous position I had the opportunity to work closely with the assistant property manager. I not only learned the ins and outs of proper leasing procedures- but I also gained experience with advanced skills such as posting rent and consolidating accounts. These abilities- along with my long history within customer service and management- have allotted me a vast skill set and level of experience that I do not believe my peers would have.
By heeding the tips and examples provided- you will be well prepared to answer “What makes you stand out among your peers?” and similar interview questions.
How to Answer the Interview Question, 'What Are Your Strengths?'
Most people want to be recognized for their our own unique value, not valued for how they compare to other people. If you feel this way, it can be challenging when an employer asks you to elaborate on what makes you better than other candidates vying for the job.
For example, an employer might ask you something like, "What can you do better for us than another candidate?" or, "Why should we pick you instead of picking someone else?"
Be Careful When You Answer These Questions
It may seem sneaky, but this type of question can also be a trap to determine if you have an inflated view of yourself or tend to be overly critical of your colleagues. The best approach is usually to view these kinds of questions as an opportunity to highlight your strengths to the potential employer. Just be sure when you highlight your strengths, you don't imply that you are better than everyone around you.
Start With a Disclaimer
It can be helpful to start with a disclaimer that you are not aware of the strengths of the other candidates. Also, note that you are sure there are some impressive individuals applying for such an attractive position. After that, you can go on to assert that you have many assets that will enable you to make a solid contribution to the company should you be hired.
For example, you might say, "Although I am not familiar with the others who you are interviewing for this position, I am sure there are a lot of talented people applying for the job.
However, given my unique background and experiences, I consider myself to be a strong candidate for this position."
Follow Up With Your Strengths
Then, you can follow up by specifically describing your own unique strengths. But, it is not enough to present your strengths in general terms. You need to be prepared to reference 6 - 8 strengths in terms of the skills, past experiences, areas of knowledge, and personal qualities that you bring to the position.
Remember, your presentation will be most convincing if you provide concrete examples of how you have applied your strengths to add value to previous jobs including internships. Depending on the depth of your work experience, you can also draw upon school projects and volunteer work. Be sure to describe situations or challenges, actions you took and the quantitative results you generated by tapping into each of your unique strengths. This may seem like a lot of work, but it's worth the effort if you nab the job.
Before you go to an interview, review the description of the job and identify what responsibilities seem to be most important to the employer. Try to share as many of your attributes as possible that correlate with the core functions of the job.