What sets you apart from other candidates: Top 10 skills that sets you apart


Rachita Jain


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What sets you apart from other candidates along with describing yourself in one word are the two questions every interviewer asks. Strong skills play a significant role in getting hired for a job. But to get a well-profound job, you need some skills that go beyond the traditional work-related skills.
According to the World Economic Forum, half of the population needs re-skilling and up-skilling in the coming five years due to the double disruption caused as a result of the pandemic. Where on the one hand, technological disruption has transformed jobs; on the other, it has helped people learn and acquire new skills.
Hence, some skills, including critical thinking, stress tolerance, flexibility, and others, are essential to stand out from the crowd. The below-mentioned skills apply to almost all jobs in all fields. These intangible or soft skills are the traits that will help you answer- 'what sets you apart from other candidates.'

Why do you need to stand apart amidst today's landscape?

1. For being a part of the Big 4

The competition to get a good job is higher than ever before. Companies all around the globe look for the best candidates that can help them earn profits. The global accounting networks Deloitte, Ernst & Young, KPMG, and PricewaterhouseCoopers constitute the Big 4. The Big 4 companies are the four largest professional services networks in the world and many candidates want to be a part of it as they want to build their rapport. And the Big 4 in this context have the upper hand. These are the companies that get to choose and hire the best candidates. That is why to get a place among the top crowd; you need to have some skills that set you apart.

2. To build your work reputation

To build a strong work reputation, you need skills that set you apart. In a world dominated by the world wide web, everyone has the basic skills required to perform a specific job. For instance, all software engineers know how to develop software, but only a few can do it perfectly under restricted and stressful conditions.
Having something extra on your plate is how you can build your work rapport for a brighter career. It is how you can stand out from the crowd.

3. To remain at the top

Since you have many competitors, you need different skills to help put yourself at the front of the line. You must go the extra mile to acquire these skills to beat the competition. Pollen that can not grow can never become a flower. Similarly, you can be a good analyst, but you can never succeed unless you up-skill and develop new skills. Stagnancy will only hold you back. Thus, to stay on top, you must have the skills mentioned below.

4. To stand out from the crowd

To be different from the crowd, you must have something unique. The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, may not be the person he is today if not for his strong belief in his ability and critical thinking. His high self-assurance caused him to give up his freshman year at Harvard and concentrate on Facebook entirely.
Thus, traditional work skills won't serve enough if you want to stand out. You need the below-mentioned exceptional skills to go beyond.

Steps to answer what sets you apart from other candidates

1. Research the job requirements

Identify the job requirements and responsibilities by carefully reading the job description provided by the company. Read it thoroughly to understand what has been asked and expected from you. It will help you study the mindset of the interviewer and will help you design your answer as per that. Hence, a comprehensive study of the job description will help you find the skills you must mention to get the job.

2. List your qualifications on a paper

To efficiently answer what sets you apart from other candidates, you need to compare your skills to the requirements you found in the job description. Pick your related strengths, write them down on a piece of paper and use them as the core of your answer.
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These can be both professional, personal skills or any relevant skills. You can also mention some impressive past accomplishments that speak for your commitment to the job.

3. Consider what makes you unique

After listing your skills on paper, pick the ones that help you stand out. Select those unique strengths and provide examples from your experience that stand as proof of how you are different from others.
Compare these skills with the other traditional must-have skills that everyone has. It will help you show how these unique skills make you the suit for that job.

4. Stay on topic

While answering what sets you apart from other candidates, make sure you stick to the relevant skills for the position you are applying for. Remember, you must showcase your unique skills and not boast about your capabilities. Crossing this line will make you seem rude and arrogant, which is no help in getting a job.

5. Be confident

Lastly, while discussing what sets you apart from other candidates, ensure you are confident enough. Confidence in your answer stands as evidence that you have those skills in real. Merely speaking the words will not suffice if there is no confidence in what you say. Your confidence speaks for you; hence, whatever you say, say it as you mean it. Thus, confidence is the key ingredient to the recipe of what sets you apart from other candidates, and there are many ways to develop it.

Ten must-have skills and characteristics that set you apart from other candidates

1. A strong work ethic

Strong work ethics are something that everyone has when they get hired, but it gradually disappears with time. Almost all the employees start strong in the beginning. They are punctual, work extra hours, and work harder than expected to show devotion. But as time flies, these things also change. Punctuality starts to disappear, and people start leaving early. That is why a strong work ethic with good examples to prove it can help you stand out.
However, there is a hair-thin line between bragging and working hard. A person who shows off how hard he works is a big turn-off.

2. Stress-tolerance

Stress tolerance is the ability to perform under highly stressful situations. It is easier to perform when there is no watch or deadline, but only a few can produce results working under stressful conditions.
Stress and anxiety can overtake and break you. And working on a project that has short deadlines can be highly stressful. Employers look for candidates who can work and generate positive outcomes in strained situations. That is why stress tolerance should be a skill you must possess if you want to stand out. Master stress tolerance so you know exactly what to say the next time your interviewer asks what sets you apart from other candidates.

3. Willingness to learn

Nothing can be taught to an individual who is unwilling to learn, and such individuals never grow. Even if you have great experience, you still need the knowledge to develop your skills further. Like the technology undergoes several upgrades, so should the humans. It would be good if you were consistent in learning new things and updating the existing ones.
For instance, an employer would always want his employees to improve themselves. And this is only possible when you are willing to learn and experience new things.
Answer: What sets you apart from other candidates
"My willingness to learn and acquire new skills is what sets me apart from other candidates. I try to learn and enhance my knowledge every day. I have enrolled myself in the ABC course in UpGrad. This course helps me learn new things and upgrade my existing skills."

4. High self-confidence

When you are looking for a job, you may think that you are not being listened to or given the chance and can end up feeling discouraged. However, keep in mind that there are many jobs, and you might not be the right fit for them.
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  • Be persistent and continue to send your resume and cover letter to various jobs.
  • Be prepared for rejections, but remember that it is just one step in the job search process.
  • When you go for an interview regarding your job, be ready to answer questions about your skills and experience.
Doubting yourself means you are giving the interviews the space to doubt you. Self-confidence will give you the strength to keep going, even when things seem harsh.

5. Man of my words

It is vital to be clear about what you want and are willing to do.
  • If you tell your potential manager that you'll hand in certain documents by a specific date or time, make sure you meet that deadline. Otherwise, the first impression you're giving your boss might be that you're not serious about this opportunity.
  • When you make an appointment, then be on time and dress appropriately. Being punctual shows that you are organized and you mean what you say.
  • Be proactive in communications, and make sure you do what you say. When you stand by your words, you exhibit qualities like honesty, dependability, and integrity, which are the sole skills that set sets you apart.
Answer: What sets you apart from other candidates
"While reading the job description, I noticed you are looking for someone who can meet deadlines. One characteristic that helps me stand out from the crowd is that I am a man of my word. My previous project was lagging as one of our developers had to leave due to some mishap. To cover that up, I hired another developer with whom I burnt the midnight oil to explain the entire process. That is how I was able to deliver that project I mentioned on time."

6. Critical thinking

The ability to think critically by understanding the entire situation is a skill that only some possess. Critical thinkers don't waste their time sitting and thinking uselessly. Instead, they choose to act based on their thoughts.
Hence critical thinking is the pre-requisite for landing a good job. Critical thinkers stay ahead of others. They are humble, curious, and eager to ask questions that enhance their knowledge. They are ambitious and goal-driven. Critical thinkers aspire to grow, so employers always prefer them over other candidates.

7. Intellectual curiosity

Employers and managers want to see that you're not just applying for any job that comes your way but that you're genuinely interested in the company and the position.
  • It means you should extensively research the company, its history, and what it does—not just what it offers on paper.
  • The candidate should also prepare one or two questions to ask and take the opportunity to learn more about the company that they are applying for. If you do this correctly, you'll show that you're excited about the opportunity, and the employer will be more likely to bring you on board.
Hence, intellectual curiosity is significant as it allows you to acquire new knowledge. Intellectual curiosity pushes you to explore and research, and these qualities set you apart from other candidates.

8. High optimism followed by realism

People with high optimism and positive attitudes can help motivate a team in tough times. When faced with a challenge, optimistic people are quicker to take on the task than those who are pessimistic. That is beneficial for optimistic people because they are more likely to succeed.
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  • When faced with a difficult task, highly optimistic people take up the challenge when others may be reluctant to do so.
  • A positive attitude during your job interview can help a potential boss see how enthusiastic you are about the job.
  • But optimism alone is not enough. With optimism, you also need realism. Optimism without realism is only a fantasy. Therefore, add examples from your experiences that make your optimism realistic.
Answer: What sets you apart from other candidates
"That one thing that helps me stand out is my high optimism followed by realism. In my previous project, we were near our deadline when my developer had to leave due to some emergency. My entire team was disheartened, but I boosted their confidence and got another developer that night. I sat with him and explained everything to him. That is how we managed to complete the project within the deadline."

9. Flexibility and adaptive nature

A pole that stands still in a storm breaks, whereas the tree that bends withstands the storm. Hence, the flexible one can adjust and adapt to any situation. But people who keep complaining about the adversity of their problems are liked by none.
You must know how to be moderate and modify when the situation requires. For instance, a web developer who patiently listens to his customer's demands and works according to them is more favorable than one who is reluctant to be flexible. Hence, flexibility and adaptive nature are the skills that can help you stand apart from others.

10. Problem-solving mindset

Sitting ideally and waiting for the solution to appear magically is not something employers prefer in a candidate. Instead, they want a candidate who takes over the situation and diverts his mind on finding the solutions to it.
For instance, the National Startup Award 2020 winner Satish Kumar from Sonepat, India, developed the world's first automated brick-making machine when his family's brick kin shut down due to the losses it incurred.
Instead of sitting and crying over the problem, he critically thought to find the solution. As a result, he was conferred with such a prestigious award that many could only dream of. When you are asked about what sets you apart from other candidates, a problem-solving mindset is an answer you can give.


These were some of the characteristics that set you apart from other candidates. Not only will they help you stand out from the crowd, but they will also build your work rapport.

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