Some of the trickiest job interview questions to answer are the ones that are about you—not your skills or experience, necessarily, but who you are as a candidate and a person. One of the toughest questions of this type is: “What can you do better for us than another candidate?” Another variation of the question is, “Why should we pick you instead of someone else?”
Why is this question so hard to answer? For starters, most people want to be recognized for their unique value, not for how they compare to other people. If you feel this way, it can be challenging when an employer asks you to elaborate on what makes you better than other candidates vying for the job.
But with a bit of preparation and some strategy, you can give a sharp and effective response.
What the Interviewer Wants to Know
Part of what makes answering this question so challenging is the potential for it becoming a trap.
Hiring managers want to know how you assess your own value. But this question also gives interviewers a way to determine if you have an inflated view of yourself or tend to be overly critical of your colleagues.
Remember, part of what interviewers look for is a cultural fit. In most cases, they’ll want to avoid hiring someone who thinks they’re superior to their colleagues or who tends to be overly critical of the people around them.
How to Answer The Question
Consider beginning your response with a disclaimer: Explain that you are not aware of the strengths of the other candidates. Also, note that you are sure there are some impressive individuals applying for such an attractive position.
After using a disclaimer to avoid the appearance of being overly critical, you can follow up by specifically describing your unique strengths. However, it is not enough to present your strengths in general terms. You need to be prepared to reference six to eight strengths in terms of the skills, past experiences, areas of knowledge, and personal qualities that you bring to the position.
Before you go to an interview, review the description of the job and identify what responsibilities seem to be most important to the employer. Try to share as many of your attributes as possible that correlate with the core functions of the job.
The best approach is usually to view these kinds of questions as an opportunity to highlight your strengths to the potential employer. Just be sure when you do so, you don't imply that you are better than everyone around you.
Examples of the Best Answers
Example Answer #1
Although I'm not familiar with the others whom you are interviewing for this position, I'm sure there are a lot of talented people applying for the job. However, given my unique background and experiences, I consider myself to be a strong candidate for this position.
Why It Works: This candidate graciously acknowledges that other candidates may be talented, then pivots to discussing their own skills.
Example Answer #2
I'm sure you've got a long list of qualified and talented candidates for the role. One thing that sets me apart is my ability to dive deep to smooth out complicated processes. At my previous role, my manager praised me for streamlining the contracts process. I know you mentioned earlier that's been a hurdle here.
Why It Works: In this answer, the candidate connects one of their skills to the needs of the company.
Example Answer #3
Well, of course, I can only speak to my own strengths! I know one of your company's priorities is meeting sales quotas each quarter. That's something I was able to do at Company ABC for eight quarters in a row.
Why It Works: This response shows the value the candidate will bring as an employee.
Tips for Giving the Best Response
- Avoid comparison. This question asks you to compare yourselves to others, which could make you seem overly confident or boastful. Avoid the risk by noting that you don't know the abilities of the other candidates.
- Focus on your strengths. Showcase the strengths that you have to offer. In particular, highlight strengths mentioned in the job description or by the interviewer.
- Give examples. Your response will be most convincing if you provide concrete examples of how you have applied your strengths to add value to previous jobs and internships. Depending on the depth of your work experience, you can also draw upon school projects and volunteer work. Be sure to describe situations or challenges, actions you took, and the quantitative results you generated by tapping into each of your unique strengths. This may seem like a lot of work, but it's worth the effort if you nab the job.
What Not to Say
When asked what you can offer the company that other candidates can’t, remain positive and avoid answers that make you look arrogant, difficult to get along with, or otherwise overly critical. Focus on what you can do, not what others can’t. Avoid:
- Disparaging other candidates: Don't talk down about your competition, either specifically or in general terms. Don’t make sweeping statements about the people you imagine might be interviewing for the job. You don’t know your competition. Even in a group interview setting, you’ll only see the tiniest sliver of what people have to offer.
- Saying anything that could indicate a negative attitude toward the company: You should also avoid projecting negativity toward the company's products, employees, or the interviewer. Sometimes, when people are caught off-guard, they become defensive and fall back on critiquing the person or company that made them uncomfortable. Take a deep breath and remember to focus on what you can bring to the role.
- Stammering or seeming otherwise out of step: Prepare for this and other typical interview questions so you won’t have to worry about coming up with an answer off the cuff.
Possible Follow-Up Questions
- What do you expect to accomplish here? —Best Answers
- What do you see yourself doing in the first 30 days? —Best Answers
- What is your greatest strength/weakness? —Best Answers
- Why are you the best person for the job? —Best Answers
- Keep it positive. Avoid disparaging the skills of other candidates.
- Focus on your strengths. Use this question as an opportunity to highlight your most relevant and in-demand skills.
- Give lots of examples.Don't just say what you're good at—share examples of accomplishments.