Nobody wants to be a mediocre individual, nobody wants to get lost in the crowd. On the contrary, we try to stand out, in one way or another. Be it with our academic achievements, opinions and beliefs, or with more trivial things such as a haircut, tattoo, or choice of clothes. In reality, you do not need to do anything to stand out from the rest. Because you are a unique human being, and there isn’t anyone exactly like you among the 8 billion people who populate the Earth. Just we selfish people are too ignorant and blind to recognize the uniqueness in each other. Sad but true, hence you may face this question several times in your life: while trying to get to school of your choice, while applying for a job, or even while filling some form in a dating app. What should you say to make the right impression? And what you should rather avoid saying?
I will try to help you find out with 7 sample answers to the question. You will find on my list both answers for students and job applicants, men and women, conventional answers but also some out-of-the-box answers. Read them all, and take them as a guideline. Do not copy any of them directly to your essay or job application or whatever. The answers should help you connect the dots in your own mind, and eventually come up with a perfect answer for you. Because you are you, and stand out from the rest of the people in your own way… Do not forget to check also the notes below the list of sample answers, for additional hints on how to make the best possible impression with your reply. Enjoy!
7 sample answers to “What makes you stand out from the rest?” interview question
- I believe my academic results, and my effort, make me stand out from the rest of the applicants for this study program. Always aiming for perfection, I never cease to work on my skills, trying to learn something new. What’s more, I enjoy participating in the college life, helping with organizing events, volunteering. Having said that, I know I am not the only one with such an attitude. But you will find one in fifty applicants or maybe one in a hundred, and I sincerely believe it makes sense enrolling all such applicants in your study program, since they are invaluable for the student community.
- Perhaps my life story makes me stand out. Looking back at my childhood, nobody thought I would make it this far. I was born in a poor neighborhood, and had to fight for bare survival, having odd jobs as a child. Most of my childhood friends ended up criminals or living on a fringe of society in one way or another. But I was a fighter, and I always believed in a better future for myself and my family. Kept studying hard during the nights, kept trying my best, and eventually I made it to this interview, applying for a job I really want to do. This opportunity means everything to me, and I will give it my everything. Because I know how hard I had to work for it. I believe I stand out in this way.
- My experience helps me stand out from the rest. Or at least that’s the way I see it. I’ve been working in retail for the past fifteen years. Four different stores, many managers, tens of thousands of customers I served, and often went above and beyond for. Any challenge you can imagine , you can be sure I’ve faced it many times already at work. Conflicts with colleagues, arguments with customers, heavy workload, dealing with an ethical dilemma, you name it. And most importantly, after all these years I still love retail, and hope to continue working in the field. I haven’t met other applicants for the job, but I believe not many of them, if any, can match my experience in the field.
- This may sound like a strange choice to you, but I would go with emotional intelligence. No doubt I am not the brightest analyst who ever sat on this chair. Neither am I the most gifted person, nor the best student. But I excel in social interactions, and help to bring understanding and compassion to the office. In my opinion, it is important to have such a person in every office or department. At the same time, with the competitive and ego-centered age we live in now, it isn’t easy finding people like me, and I feel I stand out from the rest in my own way.
- My humility. I am sure most people who apply here consider themselves superior to the rest, in one way or another. That’s not my case though. I try to stay humble, and enjoy discovering the beauty in others, things they are actually good at, things I can learn from. I always try to keep this attitude in both work and in my everyday life. It results in a few things. First of all, I never stop learning and improving. Secondly, I can appreciate others, give them the feeling of recognition, something all of us seek in life. And, when I look at it from a broader perspective, it should help me a lot in this particular profession.
- I stand out from the rest just like everyone else does. Look, I’ve met hundreds if not thousands of people in my life, and I found each one unique. Each human being has their own nature, personality, skills, character, and of course also their looks, and the way they interact with others and with the environment. It may not be easy to spot from someone who is ignorant or blind to subtle differences. But if you can stop thinking about yourself, and relating everything you see to your own life, you will notice and appreciate the uniqueness and beauty of the creation. I sand out, and so do you. The question only is whether you can perceive it or not. I certainly can perceive it, and enjoy it.
- Perhaps my low expectations. In my late fifties and unemployed for more than two years, I will be grateful for any working opportunity. You know, most people enjoy salary negotiation, and come here with a lot of expectations when it comes to working environment and everything. I am different, will not complain, and will accept the basic salary, since for me this job means more than it does for a typical applicant you interview here. Whether it is a good enough reason to give me a chance you will have to decide on your own, but I am ready to prove my words in the job from day one.
Humility will always win more hearts than confidence, at least in the interviews
It may seem that people look up to confident and successful individuals. And it is true, to some extent. However, in interviews for jobs and for places in a study program, you will typically achieve better results with humility. Show the interviewers that you can appreciate others, that you do not live in little a bubble of your selfish life. Tell them that you always see room for improvement, and never stop working on your skills.
Hiring managers and people sitting in school admission committees do not look only for best students and employees. They look also for people who will blend well into the team, for nice colleagues, people attentive to the needs and feelings of those they share the workplace, or the classroom with. Keep it on your mind while answering this question.
You should have something to backup your claims
Perhaps you decide to go with a certain ability, skill, achievement, or attitude in your answer. Fair enough, but it is important to have something that will help them believe the authenticity of your claims. Let me explain it on a few example.
You claim that you are an excellent designer, painter, whatever, In such a case, you should have your portfolio ready, to be able to show them your best works, to convince them of your words. Or you claim to be a stand-out student. That’s great, but they will find it hard to believe unless you can demonstrate it with achievements from competitions and events where you represented your school in the past.
And if you claim to stand out as an excellent colleague, in whatever way, it isn’t a bad idea to have two or three phone numbers ready, for the employer to be able to call your former colleagues, and get some feedback on how amazing it is to share the office with you… In any case, the key is to make sure that they won’t consider your claims just empty words.
Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check also sample answers to other tricky interview questions:
- Tell us about a time when you did something you were not proud of.
- Describe a time when you went above and beyond for someone.
- Why should we hire you with no experience?