Answering "What sets you apart from other candidates?" In An Interview

It's a question one will hear in just about every interview for any type of industry or position: "What sets you apart from other candidates?"

This can be a tough one to answer. On one hand, you probably don’t want to be too cocky or overconfident in your answer. On the other hand, you don’t want to sell yourself short and seem like you don’t know what your assets are.

In this guide, we'll be covering how to answer this age-old interview question, how to avoid an ineffective answer and a few examples of how you should answer. Let's start by taking a look at why hiring managers ask this question.

Why Do Interviewers Ask "What Sets You Apart from Other Candidates?"

When you hear this question, keep in mind that the hiring manager isn’t trying to get you to badmouth other prospects or point out their flaws.

What they are trying to do is get some insight into what strengths and experiences you believe are valuable, and how they would benefit the company as a whole. This is simply an opportunity to let your hiring manager or interviewer know why you belong in this company.

What you should avoid answering with

There are a few things you should keep in mind when answering this question:

What should be in your answer

When tailoring and rehearsing your answer, consider these key things that you should implement into your answer:

Now that we know what not to say and what to say, let’s take a look at some sample answers to get your creative juices flowing!

10 example answers to “What sets you apart from other candidates?”

1. I think my positive attitude is one of my biggest assets, especially when it comes to a professional setting. In this industry, I've seen a lot of people in my position and other positions become burnt out and less likely to make sales or work well with the general customer base. When I come into work, I enter a completely different frame of mind. I know that for each and every hour I'm in this building, I'm setting an example for the company. I take care of my mental and physical health outside of work so that when I'm here, I'm at 100%.

2. I’m very good at self-management and self-discipline. This is a high-stress industry, and I think it eventually becomes too easy to stop trying as hard to be the best one can be in this position. I know it can be easy to stop being as organized or good at management after a while. I strive to avoid this frame of mind and make organizing my work and managing my team the first priority.

3. Communication is key to this role. I believe my communication skills, as demonstrated by this interview, are on point. Through being excellent at communication, I’m also quite good at dealing with coworker conflicts in a positive way as well as communicating needs for the product production with the appropriate teams. I never leave anything up to assumptions, and thus my past projects have been relatively error-free and launched quickly.

4. When I read the job description, I noticed that the company specifically mentioned that they were looking for someone with [insert skill] experience. As you can see on my CV and resume, I have [number] years of experience in this field. I think what really sets me apart from the other prospects is my ability to combine that experienced and tailored skill with team building skills. I definitely value lasting coworking relationships and rapport, and I always seek to build those relationships with every team member at all levels. My passion for this industry and the people that make up this industry are what make me a valuable addition to any team.

5. I have a great willingness to learn. I think many prospects may expect to be hired for this position and not continue to cultivate their skills, but that is a priority of mine.

6. You may have noticed on my resume that the majority of my work history has been as a [insert position] while is a role which that has given me a great understanding of how [elements of the industry] work. In my previous roles, I was responsible for not only managing teams and tracking projects, but I was also responsible for overseeing business accounts and payroll. I also interacted with customer accounts and billing as well. I grew a deep understanding of the current environment for [industry] and can implement my experience into this position. I am confident that my work experience will be beneficial to this company and I am very happy to begin this new timeline in my career.

7. I’m a quick decision-maker. In this industry, I think that’s an irreplaceable skill. As you can see from my past projects on my resume, I’ve had to make hard decisions and make them quickly. Most of them turned out to be the right decisions, and the ones that weren’t, I actively worked with my team to remedy the issue and learn from it.

8. I don’t think many people in this position may have the commercial awareness or business acumen that I have. I’ve been in this industry for a very long time, and I believe my ample experience has given me insight into the biggest and smallest aspects of how a company in this industry operates and succeeds.

9. I’m extremely motivated. I think that can be hard to find. I’m also a quick learner. Although I’m new to the world of [industry], I’m definitely not new to customer service. I noticed in the job description for this position that interacting with customers is a major element. During my time as a volunteer for [business], I realized just how much I loved helping people in a professional setting and making sure that not only are the customers well taken care of, but their experience will be a positive one.

10. Not everyone can be a people person or a leader. As you can see by my resume, I’ve been in many successful leadership positions. I think management was what I was made for, and I’m excited to bring my leadership skills to this position.

We hope this guide was extremely helpful for you in your upcoming interviews. Remember to practice, stay focused, be patient and good things will follow. Which one of our examples was your favorite for answering this common interview question?

Related interview questions

If you are looking for related interview questions, the following should be helpful:
What are your leadership examples
Describe your leadership style
How did you hear about this position
What do you know about our company
What motivates you
What makes you unique
What interests you about this position

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