How to Answer the Question “What Makes You Better Than Other Candidates?”

How to Answer the Question “What Makes You Better Than Other Candidates?”

Posted on Thursday, June 14, 2018

When you’re involved in a career search, there’s no getting around it: You’re going to be interviewing. One of the most popular, albeit awkward, interview questions to ask job candidates is “what makes you better than other candidates?” How can you answer this question effectively? We’ve got some tips if you encounter this one.

The question is designed to elicit your strengths, not an opinion of the candidate pool.

Don’t Try to Answer Realistically

The question can be a tricky one to see how you view yourself against a hypothetical group of people, all competing for the same job. First of all, of course, you don’t actually know the other candidates and their qualifications. As a result, you can’t really give an answer.

But if you answer very arrogantly (assuming you are much better than the applicant pool) or with too much humility (assuming you have gaps or deficiencies that others don’t have), interviewers could see it as a negative. Arrogant people and people who put themselves down can both have trouble functioning as part of a team. Both can also be difficult to manage.

Interviewers may also see it as a red flag if you try to answer. You simply don’t have enough data to formulate an answer, because you don’t know the other candidates. If you try to answer, interviewers might see you as someone who tries to give opinions without sufficient data.

Don’t put down either other candidates or yourself.

Talk About Your Strengths

Okay, so what do you respond? Ah, now we’re getting to the heart of the matter.

The question is actually designed to get you to talk about your strengths. All you need to do is talk concretely and persuasively about your experience and skills.

Before an interview, it’s a really good practice to think of specific examples of successes in past jobs. Often, these are called Challenge-Action-Result, or CAR, stories. You discuss a challenge at past jobs, the action you took, and the result.

Here’s an example. The challenge might have been increasing quality control in social media posts. The action? Being part of a team that completed a review of all posts to catch typographical errors. The result? A 50% improvement in quality and a commendation for the team.

Put together at least five of these stories. Ensure they are multipurpose, and can be used to answer several different types of interview questions, including this one.

It’s also a good idea to frame the stories with specific requirements of the job you’re applying for. If the job requires quality control, you could use the CAR story example above. If it requires multitasking, stress your role as a member of a team both creating and reviewing social media posts.

Now, you may also introduce your strengths by acknowledging the question. Say either something like “I would imagine the company has put together an outstanding applicant pool…” to lead into your strengths. That way, you are complimenting the company but not falling for answering the question.

Saying something like “I couldn’t really rate myself against the other candidates because I don’t know the applicant pool” is also a good choice. Then, go immediately into something like “but I can tell you my own strengths for the position” and then itemize some CAR stories.

If you’re in a job search, helpful articles from Select Classifieds can provide support. Access them from our website today.