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A Simple Way to Answer “What Makes You Unique?” in Your Job Search (Plus Examples!)

Imagine a hiring manager asks you in an interview: “Tell me, what makes you unique?” Does your mind immediately jump to some random fun fact about yourself—like how you can eat a whole jar of pickles in one sitting or your passion for arm-knitting blankets?

That can’t be what they’re looking for, can it? (Spoiler: It’s not.)

This doozy of an interview question can throw off any skilled candidate—don’t let that be you! Here’s everything you need to know about why this question gets asked, and how you can totally nail your answer. Plus, what to do when you encounter this question in an online application (because it happens).

Why Hiring Managers Ask “What Makes You Unique?”

Muse career coach and CareerSchooled founder Al Dea puts it plainly: “They genuinely want to know the answer.” In other words, they’re not actually trying to trip you up.

“Most times hiring managers are going to be looking at multiple candidates for a role, and generally speaking they’re probably going to...have to make some hard decisions,” he explains. “So being able to tease out what separates candidates is important.”

That means this is your prime opportunity to make yourself stand out from the pack—especially when the pack looks awfully similar on paper.

It’s also a simple test of your self-awareness and communication skills. “If a candidate can provide a very strong and compelling answer, it demonstrates to the hiring manager that the candidate…has done the thought and reflection that’s needed to understand what it would take for them to do the role and why they’re best positioned for it,” says Dea.

Basically, if you have no idea what makes you special—or you do but you can’t communicate it properly—how in the world is the hiring manager supposed to believe you’re a valuable hire?

How to Answer “What Makes You Unique?” in an Interview

You’ll need to figure out what your value proposition is and how to articulate it to the interviewer. Here’s how:

1. Consider the Company/Role/Hiring Manager

The most important thing to remember is when the hiring manager asks, “What makes you unique?” they actually want to know what makes you unique in the context of this job. So it’s important to “understand what that company, what that specific role, what that specific hiring manager is trying to optimize for,” says Dea.

The easiest place to start, he says, is the job description. What would you be doing in the role? What kind of person are they looking for? What skills or experiences do they emphasize as must-haves or would-love-to-haves?

“If you know what the company’s core values are, or the things that are true to them, you need to think about how you fit within that context,” he adds. You can easily pinpoint th