Don’t panic when an interviewer asks “What can you offer us that someone else cannot?” It’s not a test. This is a common interview question. A very common interview question. And since it’s so common, it’s one you can prepare an answer for way in advance.
There are three main things an interviewer is trying to learn with this question. They want to see how confident you are; they’re testing your humility; and they’re gauging how much you prepared for the interview.
The interviewer isn’t looking for a long-winded answer, because chances are many of the candidates they’ve already interviewed have a skill set and background that’s comparable to yours. This questions offers you a chance to highlight a unique part of your background, one that sets you apart from the competition.
In order to hit a home run with answering this question, you have to strike a balance between confidence, humility, and preparedness to stand out.
Points to Emphasize
There are a few things you need to keep in mind when answering the question “What can offer us that someone else cannot?” You should highlight the skills and experience that will help you succeed in the position and at the company; likely, the ones you’ve already touched on in your resume and cover letter. Also emphasize your strengths, and most importantly—what differentiates you from the rest of the interviewee pack.
Think about what pieces of your background may be a little different from those you are interviewing against. Do you have work experience in a different but related industry? Or, do you have experience in another department within this industry? When you point out these strengths, ensure that they’re qualities that will add to the role you’re interviewing for.
Make sure to point out skills and characteristics that are in line with the position you are applying for. For example, if you are applying for a project management role, be sure to highlight your project management expertise, and any project management certifications you hold.
Point out positive attributes that will be highly valued in this role. For example, if you’re interviewing for a customer-facing role, and you love interacting with the public, talk about this.
Mistakes You Should Avoid
You know what they’re really asking with this question, so be careful to not fall into any traps that lead to a bad answer.
Don’t go negative or obnoxious (or both). Talk about what sets you apart, but don’t speak negatively (in a general sense) of other people in running for the job. For example, don’t start off on a note like this: “Let me tell you what I’ve got that no one else does . . .”
Beware of the long-winded answer. Since the interviewer is likely more interested in how you answer the question and less interested in the actual content, you don’t have to provide a five-minute monologue. A long-winded answer may hurt you more than help you, as the interviewer may get bored and lose attention.
Don’t give a cookie cutter response. Try and come up with something unique. Highlight what it is that truly makes you special.
Don’t stumble through your answer. If you’re a nervous interviewer, you may have a tendency to stumble a bit over your words. This may make it seem like you didn’t prepare, and will give the interviewer the wrong idea. Practice your answer for a friend in advance so that you feel more comfortable during the interview. Remember, people hire people they like. Being likable and confident in an interview isn’t all about giving the perfect, 100% memorized answer. It has a lot to do with how natural you come across.
Don’t forget: you’re your own salesperson. Although you want to be humble, you also can’t forget to be your own salesperson. Nobody else will be there to tell the interviewer how awesome, dedicated, and hard-working you are. That’s your job! This isn’t the time to be shy. Be honest, and simply and concisely highlight what makes you unique.
Make your answer short, positive, and one-of-a-kind, and you’ll be sure to wow the interviewer.
How to Prepare
To prepare your “What can you offer us that someone else cannot?” answer:
- Print out the job description.
- Highlight all of the needed skills and requirements for the job that you bring to the table.
- Then, think about something unique from your background that you could bring to the job (and of course, to the answering of the question).
- Write your unique strength(s) down as bullet points.
- Then, devise an answer to the question that you can practice in front of a friend or relative (so you can get feedback).
- Practice till you get it right!
But also, keep in mind that your answer doesn’t have to be 100% perfectly memorized. It’s more important that you come off as relaxed and honest while answering. The interviewer will likely remember how they felt about your answer, and the manner in which you provided the answer, more than they will remember the exact words you used in answering the question.
Here are a few examples of great answers for a question regarding what you can bring to the company that others cannot.
If you’re unsure about exactly how you stand out, focus on your general strengths.
I’m a detail-oriented, creative thinker who is constantly looking for ways to learn and grow to become a more beneficial employee. I constantly set goals for myself, and I persistently try to achieve them. I think these skills will make me a very valuable asset to the company.
If you have experience or skills that make you unique, highlight them. When I worked as a digital marketer, I often highlighted my own background in computer engineering. It is not a requirement for a digital marketer to understand computer programming, but it is unique.
I’m a digital marketer with a focus on online customer acquisition. But, I also have a B.S. in computer and systems engineering. I understand the intersection of business, technology, and marketing, and I know how to use that understanding to generate more revenue online for the business.
Best of luck with answering this question! You now know what you need to do to hit a home run.