When a hiring manager asks you this question during the interview, how should you answer it? Are there any do’s and don’ts for this particular query?
According to experts, the following are the best answers to “what can you do for us that other candidates can’t?”
Head of Job Market Research, JobSearcher
Be prepared for all the questions and think on your feet
When going for an interview, it’s important that you’re prepared for all the potential questions, and one of them is “What Can You Do for Us That Other Candidates Can’t?”
There are a couple of do’s and don’ts when it comes to answering this particular query, and mostly the employer wants to know if you’re a team player and whether you can think on your feet.
What to do:
Talk about your unique abilities and specific qualifications
Make sure you’ve done your homework and read about the job description so that your answer aligns with what the company wants. Tell the employer what unique skill sets you have that set you above the rest.
Share past experience and connect it to the job you’re applying for
Draw from your past undertakings and think about how your experiences can help meet the employer’s needs. Showing that you understand the company’s needs goes a long way in impressing the interviewer.
Evaluate your achievements
Talk about your accomplishments, especially those listed in your CV, and try to quantify them. How many people did you reach if you successfully reached out to an audience through a campaign? How much did the sales rise under your leadership?
Discuss what you can bring to the team
Share your interpersonal strengths and the exceptional skills that make you stand out. Remember to stay humble and straight to the point but, at the same time, confident.
Keep it short
The answer should be as brief as possible. It shows that you were prepared for it. Take time to rehearse and make sure it’s not more than sixty seconds long.
What not to do:
Don’t criticize others
As much as the question asks you to compare yourself to other people, avoid talking ill of them. You still want to be considered a team player, so don’t brag or criticize past workmates. Keep it positive and focus on yourself. The employer wants to know what you can bring onboard.
This stems from a lack of preparation or nervousness when heading for the interview. Make sure you are ready to answer the question and keep your response brief, full of helpful information, and straight to the point. That way, you’ll avoid rambling your way through.
Try not to appear proud and arrogant
When stating your accomplishments, you might be tempted to go overboard, which might be rude. Don’t focus on what you think about yourself, but instead, go with the facts.
Don’t say anything negative about the company’s products, employees, or the interviewer
When asked this question, you may panic, and the first instinct could be to blame the interviewer for putting you in an uncomfortable position. Calm down, then focus on what you can bring to the position.
Don’t be modest
This is your chance to talk about your skillset, achievements, and what you can bring on board, and you can do so with confidence. Make sure to strike a balance, though, and not sound overly conceited.
Don’t appear surprised
Expect that you will be asked this question and prepare for it accordingly. While it might be asked in another format, like “What are your strengths?” or “What would be unique about you working here?”, chances are it will come up in the interview, so make sure you don’t look shocked or confused when they finally ask you.
Related: What Not to Say in a Job Interview
Higher Ed Consultant
Explain why you are the best choice for the position
During the interview process, candidates are typically asked some variation of “What Can You Do for Us That Other Candidates Can’t?” Those seeking a new job need to be prepared for this question.
Know the job
Part of preparing for an interview is researching the hiring organization and the open position. During the interview, you need to demonstrate an understanding of the job you have applied for and your passion for that position.
Your answer should begin by stating, “You need someone who can [effectively but briefly describe the unique and essential requirements of the position]“
Describe your relevant past accomplishments
After demonstrating that you know what they need and want, you need to show what you have done for past employers that sets you apart from others.
You might say, “I am particularly good at [that competency they seek that you just described]. In my position at ABC Company, I [describe your most relevant significant accomplishment].”
Apply your skills to their organization
You can conclude by saying, “Using the [sales, communication, organizational, etc.] skills that let me accomplish this for ABC Company, I believe I can [briefly describe what you expect to accomplish] for your organization.”
Bonus points at this step if you add a realistic time frame (e.g., during the first 90 days, six months, fiscal year, etc.). This is the most important of the three steps.
It would be best if you were sure that what you promise is:
- Something they would define as success
- Something you can actually deliver
By preparing well for the interview and then using this formula, you can demonstrate why you are the best choice for the position.
If you are not asked this question, you can give your prepared answer anyway at the end of the interview:
“Thank you for this opportunity. I am excited about this position and believe I’d be a good fit. It would be best if you had someone who can [effectively describe the unique and essential requirements of the position].
I am particularly good at [that competency they seek that you just told]. In my work at ABC Company, I [describe your relevant accomplishments].
Using the [sales, communication, organizational, etc.] skills that let me accomplish this for ABC Company, I believe I can [describe what you expect to accomplish] for your organization during my first [period] in the job.”
CEO, WebSpero Solutions
As a CEO, I take the last round of interviews with my HR team, and I am intrigued to know from the applying candidates “What Can You Do for Us That Other Candidates Can’t?”
I frequently ask this question on purpose to analyze important factors:
- To know whether a candidate knows about themselves or not
- To understand why this job is essential to them
- Are they the right fit for the job
Don’t ever lie about your skills and abilities to make an impression
Don’t ever lie about your skills and abilities to make an impression on the interviewer or get selected for the job. If you have a talent, mention it humbly without bragging about yourself. If you are a fresher, tell them that you are keen to grow and learn from the organization.
Align your skills with the job description
Connect the dots by lining up how your skills, attitude, and experience perfectly blend for that specific job.
Show confidence by being clear and concise in your conversation
Mention your accomplishments of past jobs that you are proud of, further enhancing your experience.
“Hello. I am [your name]. I am a creative digital marketer with four years of work experience. I have managed a team of twelve people, helping them with my knowledge to grow the company and them as an individual.
I believe that my empathetic attitude sets me apart from others which helped me get promoted to a manager when I just started as a fresher in [your last company’s name].“
Example 2 – If you are Fresher, then you can answer like:
“Hi. I am [your name]. I am a diligent engineering graduate specializing in mechanical engineering with an overall CGPA of [your CGPA]. What makes me different from others is that I put my heart into it whatever I do. I grasp things quickly and put in a lot of hard work to make it my skill.“
“What differentiates me from others is that I am very calm and patient. I don’t panic or get overwhelmed by difficult situations, which avoids the conditions of dispute and misunderstanding with fellow beings, leading to faster and easier problem resolution.“
Financial Expert, PiggyBank
Recognize and appreciate their excellent work
Instead of going into great depth about your skills and accomplishments, you should learn a few things about their company, express your admiration for their work, and reassure them that you will help them reach their goals.
You’ll leave a good impression on the employer and increase your chances of winning the position by providing the information you’ve gathered from your study and showing genuine interest in the business and industry.
A well-reasoned response offers you an opportunity to demonstrate your firm knowledge and the position to the recruiter or hiring manager.
“I’ve gained the necessary expertise and experience for this role during the course of my five-year-long professional career.
Moreover, because I am ambitious and want to go far in this business, I only want to work for the most accomplished professionals, and you are those people. I am confident that we can accomplish great things when we work together.”
Instead of presenting your skills and accomplishments in great detail, you express your appreciation for their organization and ensure that your inclusion would result in more outstanding outcomes for their organization.
Career Coach | Owner, Irina Cozma Consulting, LLC
Identify and be specific about the main point for that organization
This is your moment to shine and align your knowledge and experience with the job requirements. You should identify (in the job description or during the interview) what is the main pain point for that organization or role and double down on that.
For example, for a leadership role, hiring and growing people is a key requirement.
In that case, you could say:
“I have a track record of growing my direct reports. In the last year, two of my direct reports were promoted, and another got a special assignment. I understand that you need somebody to raise the bar with the team and take them to the next level. That’s something I did before, and I take great pride and joy in doing it.”
Compare that with “I am great at managing people.” Don’t make general statements that anybody can say. Be specific about how you can solve their main pain point.
Managing Director, UK Connect
Give interviewers an insight into your character, skills, and creativity
Why do interviewers ask, “What can you do for us that other candidates can’t?”
This question is not asked to determine exactly how you would add value in the role but to give interviewers an insight into your character, what skills you most value, and your creativity.
Generally, a candidate’s shield will drop, and you will have a more realistic impression of them.
Avoid sounding arrogant and comparing yourself to other candidates
When answering, you should avoid sounding arrogant and comparing yourself to other candidates. Make sure that you stay focussed on a set of provable skills that make you shine.
Suppose you are interviewing for a management role. In that case, you could mention a past experience where you managed a team and drove a project to success, or if you are currently studying for a relevant qualification or skill, say this and how it will help you add value to the role.
CPA | Finance Professional | Founder, Fluent In Finance
Show your strengths and excitement for the position
The most important factor in landing a job is selling yourself, crafting your stories and examples, and displaying your value to the interviewer.
Think of questions from an interviewer as an opportunity to show your strengths and excitement for the position and show why you are the best candidate.
The best way to tackle this question is by starting with your strengths related to this position and then reiterating your enthusiasm for this position and company.
Give the interviewer your top five strengths relating to the position and three that they are not asking for!
Something along the lines of:
“I don’t know how well qualified the other candidates are, but I can do many of the responsibilities of this position well.
I have many valuable strengths, skills, and experiences that I picked up from my prior roles, which are related to this position, which will enable me to contribute meaningfully. (Now, you start to list your strengths!).”
Head of Marketing, InMotion Marketing
Tell your abilities and passion confidently
To be honest, there is no “right” or “wrong” answer to this question. I say this because there have been candidates in the past who gave me a “word perfect” answer and still didn’t get the job.
When I ask this question, the main thing I look for is confidence. I’ve had several different responses to this question and, usually, the ones who use their answer as an opportunity to sell me on their abilities confidently are the ones who I hire.
Beyond listening to the words they use, I listen for the passion and confidence in their voice. Plus, we are a marketing company, and I want to hear how creative the candidates can get, so to say that there is only “one way” to answer would go against how I feel about multiple solutions.
Reply on the spot, even under pressure
Additionally, this question helps me see how well the candidate communicates under pressure. In the marketing world, if you can’t answer clients’ questions on the spot with confidence, you risk losing their trust and, frequently, the account.
If a candidate struggles with handling the pressure of a simple interview question, it signals that they would struggle to handle situations with much higher stakes.
Christopher Liew, CFA
Creator, Wealth Awesome
61.7% of actively looking for a job can get at least one interview when they send ten applications. This is why we need to teach people how to answer job interview questions efficiently and effectively.
Quantify your accomplishments in your previous company
You need to quantify your accomplishments in your previous company to answer this particular job interview question wisely. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) when describing your last performance and work productivity.
Express them in terms of percentage, numbers, or ratio, respectively. On top of that, you need to put a timeline or deadline when measuring your accomplishments frequently. This will further add to your story’s credibility.
For example, you can tell the hiring officer that you have increased the company’s sales by as much as 10% in just five months, surprisingly. Or, you can also tell the hiring officer that you have reduced the cost of operations by as much as 15% in ten months.
Aside from that, you have to explain your strategy how you have accomplished those things you mentioned easily.
List all relevant skills that you have acquired in your previous companies
You can take advantage of your solid work experience to effectively market yourself to a hiring officer. Then you can take a step further by instantly discussing all of the relevant skills and training you have acquired through your previous companies.
Talk about your interpersonal strengths
When you are faced with such a question in an interview, the hiring manager is not necessarily looking for answers that pertain to your qualifications because they are already interviewing other candidates with identical resumes.
Instead, they want to know what precisely it is that you can bring and apply to make their organization better as an individual, so you should focus on talking about your interpersonal strengths and how you intend to use them in the most remarkable ways.
Don’t be afraid to brag about your strengths, but don’t be arrogant about it. This is the time when you should speak confidently, and you can even give a few examples of past work experiences where this was made apparent to convince them of this.
For instance, you can say something along the lines of:
“I think one of the main qualities that makes me different is my inherent ability to come up with very innovative ideas, even when under pressure.
I can usually handle situations calmly and with a level head, allowing me to assess a situation and plot the following path forward.
For example, during a networking event for my previous employer, the main speaker dropped out two days before the event. To their surprise, I managed to save the event by quickly reaching out to some of my personal contacts for help on finding a replacement.
It is for such a reason that I believe my creative flare will prove to be an invaluable asset to your business should I be selected to take on this role.”
Founder, FOOD BOX HQ
Begin with a disclaimer and showcase your unique strengths
Explain that you are unaware of the other candidates’ strengths. Also, keep in mind that you’re sure several outstanding candidates are seeking this attractive job.
You can follow up with a detailed description of your unique strengths after employing a disclaimer to avoid appearing unduly critical.
However, stating your strengths in broad terms is insufficient. You should be able to list six to eight strengths in terms of abilities, past experiences, knowledge areas, and personal attributes that you bring to the position.
Review the job description and determine which responsibilities appear to be most significant to the business before an interview. Try to include as many of your qualities related to the job’s primary duties as possible.
The ideal strategy is to use these kinds of questions as an opportunity to showcase your strengths to a potential employer. Just make sure you’re not implying that you’re superior to everyone else in the room.
“I’m not aware of the other contenders you’re interviewing for this position, but I’m sure there are a lot of qualified candidates. However, I believe I am a strong candidate for this role because of my unique background and experiences.”
This works because this candidate kindly admits that other candidates may be talented before moving on to their own qualifications.
Avoid evasive responses and rambling
Interview questions like “What can you do for us that other applicants can’t?” are complicated, but they’re also relatively straightforward.
The interviewers expect you to deliver a clear and to-the-point response about how you believe you can benefit their company.
“When I read the job description for this position, I felt it was an excellent fit. I’m not sure what the other candidates you’re considering can do, but I can tell you how I can help and why I think my unique skill set is.
My expertise and management experience are precisely what you’re searching for. I’m convinced that my skills and expertise will enable me to succeed in the project management position.
I’ve been leading teams for over five years, and my area has won region of the year for the past two years in a row. My networking abilities helped me create strong relationships with clients, developers, and vendors, in addition to my history in successfully directing team projects.
My professional experience, together with my strong communication skills, work ethic, and pleasant demeanor, qualifies me for the position. I’m confident that I’ll be able to contribute to your team right away. I’m really enthusiastic about the idea of joining your company.”
Do a background check before the interview
The best way to answer that question is to prepare it before the interview. Go through the company’s website for which you will be interviewed. Glance through the career section and check the qualities they seek in the potential candidates.
Show them how well you can answer questions
While answering that question, tell that your qualities match the rates required in the potential candidate being needed by the company. There is no right or wrong over here. The interviewer wants to see how well you can answer that question.
“I don’t know anything about other candidates. I don’t even know how many other candidates there are. For all practical purposes, I believe I am the only candidate.
I don’t claim to know it all, nor do I claim to possess any unique skill. I don’t believe in passing judgment or making conclusions without sufficient data, especially about others. There are billions of jobs out there, and if jobs were done for specific people, we would all be workless.”
Use something that sets you apart in an excellent way
Finding something about your professional life that sets you apart makes you stand out with this question.
Here are some things that can set you apart in a good way:
Diverse work experience – For example, I hire SEO specialists in my company. If a candidate says, “I know social media management and video editing on top of technical SEO work,” it gives me an idea that I can trust them with more responsibilities compared to more junior hires.
A creative way of approaching problems – If you come from a different industry as a career shifter, you can say you have a unique lens of approaching problems.
Demonstrable results – You can also demo with actual numbers (X processes reduced, X dollars saved for the company, X dollars of revenue brought in, etc.)
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use Humor in Answering This Question?
A little humor can be a great way to connect with the interviewer, but you must use it sparingly and appropriately. Here are some tips to help you use humor effectively when answering this question:
Be appropriate: Make sure your jokes or humorous remarks are appropriate to the situation and company culture.
Be subtle: Avoid humor that is too over-the-top or distracting. Instead, try to keep it subtle and understated.
Use humor to highlight your unique qualities: Don’t use humor to distract from the question or make light of the situation, but highlight your unique qualities and skills.
Gauge the interviewer’s response: Pay attention to the interviewer’s reaction to your humor. If they seem uncomfortable or unresponsive, you should back off.
Using humor appropriately and effectively will help you connect with your interviewer and memorably highlight your unique qualities.
Should I Be Mindful of Time When Answering This Question?
Yes. While giving a thorough and thoughtful answer is important, you shouldn’t take up too much of the interviewer’s time or ramble on for too long.
Keep your answer short and concise, and support your statements with concrete examples. You can also ask the interviewer if they have any other questions or want to know more about your qualifications and experience.
By being mindful of time, you can make a strong impression without appearing overly verbose or inconsiderate of the interviewer’s time.
What if I’m Not Confident About My Qualifications or Experience?
If you’re not confident in your qualifications or experience, it’s important to focus on what you can bring to the table and what makes you unique as an applicant.
Remember that the interviewer is interested in learning about your unique qualities and skills and isn’t necessarily looking for a perfect candidate with flawless qualifications.
Here are some tips to help you feel more confident and prepared:
Focus on what you can bring to the job: Think about what you can offer the company and how your unique qualities and skills add value to the job and the company. Highlight your strengths and focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.
Prepare in advance: Research the company and the position and prepare a compelling answer to this question. Practice your answer with a friend or family to build your confidence and improve your delivery.
Be honest and authentic: Don’t try to overstate your qualifications or pretend to be someone you’re not. Be honest and authentic about your skills and experience, and focus on what makes you unique as a candidate.
Focusing on what you can bring to the job, preparing in advance, and being honest and authentic will help you feel more confident and make a strong impression on the interviewer.
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