What Makes You Stand Out from Other Candidates?
For standing out in a competitive job market, hiring managers are eager to hear what sets candidates apart. We’ve gathered six insightful answers from CEOs, career counselors, and HR specialists on what they’d like to hear from candidates, ranging from demonstrating passion and commitment to displaying adaptability and team support.
- Demonstrate Passion and Commitment
- Showcase Relevant Skills and Achievements
- Emphasize Genuine Industry Interest
- Highlight Problem-Solving and Initiative
- Exhibit Key Traits and Leadership
- Display Adaptability and Team Support
Demonstrate Passion and Commitment
The candidate that stands out from other applicants is the one who shows a passion for their chosen field. For example, this applicant may have invested extensive time and energy networking in their industry, attending panel discussions, or even involving themselves with organizations, such as local nonprofits. This shows a commitment to the profession, going beyond just desiring the job title and salary of the particular role sought—which could be an invaluable asset to the hiring manager.
Showcase Relevant Skills and Achievements
I have an example of what I look for on an application. As a hiring manager, I love this answer. It’s relevant, memorable, and “shows” rather than “tells.””My exceptional upselling and customer service skills make me stand out from other candidates for this Fabric and Textiles Sales Associate role. Previously, I increased our store’s revenue by 15% by providing friendly, personalized assistance and was praised several times in reviews for our store’s personal shopper service. As a result, I was recently invited to manage two department store pop-ups that helped increase footfall in our flagship store by 30%. I’m confident I can use these skills to offer a standout customer experience at your luxury showroom.”
The applicant identified two of the role requirements (upselling and customer service), then showed me how they exceeded these requirements by highlighting specific achievements. They also suggested how this could benefit my team by using hard numbers to show the outcome of their skills in action.
Emphasize Genuine Industry Interest
When I’m placing a role, I first look at the tangible details: education, skill set, and experience. So by the time I get to the interview process, I’m hoping to hear more about traits that are harder to convey on a resume.
Passion for the industry is a key trait. Companies are looking for workers who see their position as more than a job. Convince me it’s your calling and you’ll stand out from other candidates.
But be sure to back it up with evidence. Tell me about your hobbies and how they intersect with the sector or share a personal experience that led you to this career.
Applicants with a genuine interest in the field have higher retention rates, increased internal mobility prospects, and get along better with their co-workers, so it’s a big factor.
Highlight Problem-Solving and Initiative
Applicants who show their problem-solving skills and their ability to take initiative are attractive to hiring managers. My tip is for applicants to think of times when they faced a troublesome issue or challenge and explain how they used creative thinking to find a solution.
Going into detail about what they did to research, create, and implement the solution shows their ability to recognize problems and take action. Hiring managers would like to hear about the tangible results, too, so they can better understand how the applicant’s innovative solutions made a difference.
Here’s an example:
“I was working on a project where I had to figure out how to increase customer engagement on our website. After researching best practices, I implemented an automated chatbot system that allowed customers to engage with us quickly and easily. This resulted in a 15% increase in daily customer conversations and overall customer satisfaction, which is something I’m proud of.”
Exhibit Key Traits and Leadership
Some answers that I have truly appreciated are when they exhibit strong work/life ethic skills and want to do the right thing. Other solid responses might include an understanding of leadership and what style they plan to use, the ability to work together on a team, and a willingness to problem solve.
Display Adaptability and Team Support
Share how you could adapt to a new situation. Did you upskill? If so, share what those new skills are that you have and how they can apply to your new position. Share how your skills are transferable and that you’re looking to support the entire department, not just within your team.
Submit Your Answer
Would you like to submit an alternate answer to the question, “As a hiring manager, what’s an example answer you’d want to hear when asking a candidate, “What makes you stand out from other candidates?””