How to answer “What sets You Apart From Other Candidates?”

When organizations publish new vacancies, they will probably get feedback. And among this feedback, they’ll have to define which of the candidates will perfectly suit the position. It’s the reason you must make every effort to stand out among other applicants. And one of the methods is to respond to the most frequent question the employers ask on the interview – what makes you stand out from other applicants (or, in other words, what are your strong qualities). In our post, we’ll discuss the reasons why employers question it and how to prepare to respond to it. Besides, we’ll give you several response examples.

Why is this question so frequent?

People naturally tend to compare themselves with others. And this is what employers do, too. When you go for an interview, they’ll study every tiny detail of your application and compare it with the other candidates’s documents (academic record, certificates, previous job experience).  This question will help them assess which candidate is more appropriate for the position. Generally speaking, it gives them a chance to estimate how you see yourself in comparison to other candidates that are also applying for the same vacancy as you are.

The reasons the companies question you it

 Everything is quite simple – the company likes to know your best qualities (in your opinion), your experience that highlights you from the others, and the reasons you’ll perfectly suit the position. 

 There’s one important note here – this question doesn’t concern other applicants for the position; it concerns only you. The aim here is to tell about your abilities and how you will use them to succeed. And based on it, the HR manager or employer who’ll hold the interview will try to picture you in action. In some way, it reminds a story about yourself and your strong points. But in fact, it is not the same. 

Sometimes an HR manager or employer asks you this question at the very beginning of your interview, sometimes it may take a while. In this case, you’ll easily answer it by telling about your experience but if they ask you right after getting basic information about yourself and your career, then prepare to answer thinking on the story way that will be interesting for both sides. 

How to show your strong points?

 To get ready to respond to this question brilliantly, you should carefully study the vacancy description and concentrate on things the company looks for. Believe us – this recommendation has never failed anyone. 

 So, you need to take several steps to prepare for the response: 

  • Carefully study the vacancy description to know all demands and duties. It will help you get a great vision of what the company searches for and include the necessary abilities and expertise. 
  • Think of some examples that will prove your strong abilities. It is better to see what you’ve done for previous employers or during previous jobs, but if it isn’t possible, use your education and the qualities acquired there.
  • If you find out you lack any qualities they are looking for, show how precisely you plan to develop them in a future job.
  • Create a qualification list. Take the qualifications that the company requires and compare them with your own ones. After that, you can choose the most vital points and use them for your response. These points include professional qualities, knowledge of some spheres, various achievements, and experience. Careful! It is not necessary to tell about all your qualities (it may happen they are not so important for the position). You should choose only those that will let you be ahead of other applicants.
  • Think about the methods of beating the rivals. When collecting all information, we recommend you imagine what other candidates will say, what strong points they can use to beat others and try to find examples that can easily defeat them. 
  • Try to be positive. It is not the best option to say that you are definitely much better than other candidates because everyone can say just the same thing. Come up with something more unique and original so that an employer immediately sees your difference.
  • Be confident in what you are saying! Your voice should sound energetic, everything should be clear and easy-to-understand for the interviewer. But don’t exaggerate your value – even if you are wonderful, don’t tell it directly from the first phrase of your response.
  • Think about the qualities that make you the perfect candidate for the position. We advise choosing a few qualities or experiences that differ from what the other applicants can suggest.  For example, if we talk about a sales manager position and among other things it is required to have strong leadership qualities and the ability to work with different personalities, then you may tell that your ability to communicate easily will be an advantage for you as well as your experience in teamwork.
  • Don’t get off the topic. During the answering, keep remembering that your response must correspond to the job you are applying for. Speak about the expertise and capabilities that are appropriate to the post. 
  • Be prepared for questions that will follow after your response. In the interview, the employer is allowed to ask you about details of previous jobs and what have been done in them. He can also give you a task to solve with the aim of assessing how exactly you plan to deal with it.
  • Don’t be nervous! Interviewers want to make sure a candidate has enough knowledge and skills before inviting him or her for a real job. They try to assess whether an applicant is really ready for future duties and responsibilities not only by his words but by his actions too. So, don’t be afraid if they ask you some unexpected question – they just want to find out more information about you! 

How do you answer the question “What sets you apart from other candidates?”

  • I always set only the most difficult goals and try to achieve them.
  • I think my experience in teamwork will be an important advantage for this position.
  • My ability to communicate easily with people, as well as my experience in teamwork, will be an advantage for me as well as a sales manager.
  • Each candidate claims they have all the necessary skills and qualities to get a job. This is not true because everybody can say just the same thing about themselves. So, instead of talking about each detail here, I would like to point out a few abilities that make me stand out among others.

Experience shows that if one wants to be successful and achieve good results, one should pay attention to the following:

  • Personal qualities – always set yourself a higher goal and work hard to reach it.
  • Experience – if we talk about sales managers here, we mean the ability not only to communicate with customers (it is also necessary because of such as client service) but to do that easily. I think my experience in teamwork will give me an advantage over other candidates.
  • Skills – each manager needs to have strong leadership skills and the ability to deal with different personalities. This means one should be able to understand people’s attitudes and behaviors and adjust himself or herself accordingly. These qualities make me stand out among other candidates for this position. 

Let us now consider the situations when there are various applicants for one vacancy. In this case, each candidate can give examples of their own professional qualities and achievements as well as those which they need to improve upon. You should also choose such moments to show your uniqueness and how exactly you’ll use these qualities in your daily routine.  

You know how to get ready. And here, you’ll definitely wonder – how to describe your strong points to attract the potential boss? We’ll share several recommendations:

  • Prepare some examples. When speaking about your strong qualities, you need to be ready to prove them. Before the interview, reflect on your experience (work, academic, or something else) to show your strong points at work.
  • Be concise and clear. If you didn’t understand how to answer “What sets you apart from other candidates?” don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer for more information.
  • Don’t try to sound too modest. Everybody knows that this is a common trick at job interviews – interviewers always want to know if a candidate would be able to communicate with people and say new things or not. But don’t do it! It only shows a lack of self-confidence and makes an impression of somebody who doesn’t like his/her strong points.
  • Get ready to describe the project that demonstrates your strong qualities. Here, you can describe any situation where you’ve shown your strengths and share what it’s led. If you pay attention to details, you can also tell about the case when this quality has helped you stand out from your work among the others.
  • Don’t be afraid to give some examples that show your weak points. It may sound weird, but this is a brilliant way to convince the employer that you are able to learn and develop yourself.
  • Let them know how determined you are. This quality will help you achieve success in many spheres of life, not only at work. Describe your experience if it shows how hardworking you are – maybe the moment when you used all your strength for something good, or an example showing what happens if one fails to overcome difficulties.
  • Give a short, concrete, and nice response. Do not make a long answer that will make your listener tired and bored. As we’ve recommended before, just choose a few strong qualities that will describe you the best way. 
  • We know that we have already said that, but we will repeat it again: when describing the reasons you are the best candidate for the position, you need to stay concentrated on your potential boss and what he’s looking for. 

So, to help you be more confident in your answer, we’ll give you some examples of how to tell about your strong qualities. 

Describing the appropriate expertise and abilities

I’ve worked as a project manager for five years, so I have expertise in working on similar projects. That’s why I have an explicit vision of what problems can appear and how to avoid them. This precise knowledge will save the team’s time and make them more concentrated on their duties. 

Moreover, I’ve demonstrated the skill of project control. I’ve overseen many projects from the beginning to the end, and I know how to make the team complete the tasks in time and within the planned budget. In my last job, I’ve created a unique template for all future projects – it contains all necessary information, documents, tasks, deadlines, budgets, and team proposals. This template has helped increase the team’s effectiveness and improve project management. 

Incredible expertise

I have established my company after graduation. And in my opinion, this experience opens great perspectives for me. Yes, it’s been tough to manage the business and work on my products simultaneously, but it helped me grow up in a personal and professional way. 

To my mind, many people who apply for technical jobs do not understand the tasks of the managers, their duties, and why they do that. And thanks to this experience, I have become a connecting link between these two elements, and now I better understand them.

Exclusive certifications

I understand that others can have the same academic experience in social media management, but I have certification in Digital Marketing Strategies and Social Networks from the Digital Business School (Barcelona). So, I know how to effectively manage social media accounts and build great communication between your company and clients.

To sum up

When describing your strong qualities, you don’t need to be shy. Here, the employers wait for your confidence and demonstrate the ability to present yourself. And during the answer, don’t forget to show your interest in the organization and the job you’re applying for. 


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