And here we again. They ask you something you cannot realistically know, because you do not know the other candidates for the job. Maybe you think you have more experience, better attitude, or a skill with a particular software program useful for the job. But what if one of the other candidates actually have it as well? And how many candidates are there? 5, 15, 50, 500 people compete with you for the job? Obviously unless you know something very few people in the world know, or have some special skill, it isn’t easy to know whether something actually makes you different from the other candidates. Yet you will face this question often, while applying for both low-wages and mid-wages jobs. How to deal with it, without sounding over-confident or ridiculous?

You do actually have a few options. One is betting on the mix of abilities and skills. Some of the other job candidates certainly excel as much as you do with MS Excel, and some people have a great attitude to work. And some others love their brand as much as you do. But you can offer the employer all three things, basically the “whole package”, and that makes you different. Other option is betting om humility, giving actually some praise to other candidates, saying that you’re sure everyone has something to offer (and perhaps you aren’t different in some major way).

Third option consists in a philosophical answer, talking about uniqueness of each human being, and how in fact everyone is different to everyone else, which is true and the beauty of creation :). Last but not least, you can actually pick some skill, or achievement, or experience that makes you different, if you believe so. Let’s have a look at sample answers for all these options.


7 sample answers to “What makes you different from other candidates?” interview questions

  1. I believe my life situation makes me different My girlfriend is just expecting twins, we live in a very small place shared with another family, and I have all motivation in the world to change our situation to better. Sure, other candidates can talk about motivation. And no doubt some also have their share of problems. But I feel that my motivation is stronger, based on something life-changing such as a birth of twins, and you can be sure if I get a chance here I will make everything possible not to disappoint you, and keep the job. It is a low-paid job, but for me in my situation it is perfect, since I have another part time job in the mornings, and need this one to make enough to cover the expenses of my family (in the making).
  2. I believe that I match the job requirements as well as anyone can match them. Worked as a financial analyst for two years already, have done internship in one of the big 4 companies, excel in Math and with computers, know a lot about your brand and the corporate values which happen to resonate with me. Of course, something like a perfect employee doesn’t exist. But I believe I am as close a match to the job as it is possible in this world.
  3. In my opinion, no two people are exactly the same. We may share some characteristics when it comes to education and experience. But each of us is unique, in terms of their personality, expression style, goals and dreams. I have no doubt these things make me different from other candidates, just like they made them different from me. Each of us has something unique to offer to you, and it is up to you to decide. It isn’t an easy task indeed, but I hope you will make a good choice, and will happily congratulate one of the other candidates, if you eventually decide for them instead of for me.
  4. What makes me different, or at least I believe so, are my references. You can have a look yourself what my former managers and employers said about me. Interview is a sales talk, and everyone tried to make the best possible impression. And let’s be honest, some people will let their imagination roam, or tell you just what they find fitting to tell. With me it is different. You can read the recommendations from my former employers, and you can give a phone call to any of these people, and you will hear from them how great it is to have me onboard…
  5. My achievements speak for me. I managed to double the sales in my last job, over a period of 12 months. And in the one before, I put together a team of managers that collectively generated greater sales volume than any other team in the company, across the country. Numbers do not lie. It is one thing saying that someone is a good manager, and another one demonstrating it with numbers. I have a lot to show for my words, and I believe it makes me different to other candidates here.
  6. To be honest, I cannot tell. Because I haven’t met the other candidates, haven’t talked to them in person. Of course, I have confidence in my skills. Can work with SAP, Excel, do not mind learning new things, do not mind working overtime. But how can I know whether the other candidates cannot offer you the same, or even better? You know, I do not live in a small bubble of my selfishness, thinking that I am better than everyone in the world. On the contrary, I can appreciate the others for who they are and what they achieved in life. And I also never cease to work on my skills and abilities.
  7. My experience makes me different. I worked for one of your biggest competitors for three years. Know everything about their processes, real numbers, why they succeeded in some projects and failed in other. I honestly believe that such a knowledge can help you a lot here, and I doubt any other candidate can offer it. That’s why I believe it makes sense to hire me, and not one of the other candidates for the job…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also sample answers to other tricky interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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