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If you immediately freeze when asked to share something unique about yourself on a job application or in an interview, you're not alone. The question is so open-ended that it can be tough to discern what an employer wants to hear. If you view every application question as a chance to share positive information that the employer doesn't already have, though, you'll quickly be on the path toward landing the job of your dreams.
Share Your Passions
Virtually every employer wants employees who have passions and hobbies. It's even better if your hobbies relate directly to the job, because passionate employees are committed employees. Try sharing a hobby and explaining how it either relates to the job or offers a unique skill set. For example, you might share that you learned to play the guitar at a rapid pace and that you bring that dedication to all your projects. Alternatively, you might tell the story of how you got interested in your chosen field, highlighting all the work you've done to achieve your current successes.
Reflect On Previous Work
Sharing information about your previous work that isn't immediately available on your application is one way to highlight your unique skill set. You might share with the interviewer the most frequent compliment you got from your previous employer or share how you once helped a team member who was struggling with mental health challenges. If the position is an entry-level one, talk about your life experience or education instead. You might talk about your dedication to school organizations or how you spearheaded a university-wide charity event.
Find Common Ground
If you're comfortable that the interviewer has a good handle on your skills and achievements, consider establishing a personal connection instead. It's vitally important that this connection be real, not feigned, and that the information you convey is at least tangentially relevant to the job. For example, if you love skiing and you know the interviewer does, too, you might talk about this shared interest. The key is then to show how that passion is relevant to the job. You might note the time you kept going despite an injury or share the career lessons you learned from your hobby.
Share Your Philosophy
The employer wants to know how you think and what principles guide you. Make that easier by sharing your life philosophy, a favorite quote or an ultimate goal. Ensure whatever you share is positive and relevant to the job. For a customer services job, you might emphasize your goal of being kind to even the most unkind people. A management job demands an emphasis on people skills and leadership.
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Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.