Describe yourself and what makes you unique, 150 characters or fewer

If you ask around, you’ll hear a few different approaches to this question as well as some vitriol aimed at interviewers who ask job candidates to explain why they are unique.

Some people say to explain how hiring you will benefit the company and the interviewer. That’s an important message, but it probably needs to be delivered with the answers to every other question, not as an answer to what makes you unique, try to catch our eye.

My advice is to tell a story that shows the interviewer something about you. If you’ve studied fiction writing, you’ve heard “Show, don’t tell.” The same rule applies here. Show the interviewers or the application readers something about who you are.

My wife recently came up with what I think is a great answer to the question what makes you unique in 150 characters or less: I found Lucky in Jirisan a week before the floods. I cried when the vet put him on an IV and said it was 50/50. I laugh every time he licks my nose.

This is a short story that shows you my wife is an animal lover and has saved / adopted a stray named Lucky. It doesn’t tell too much though – Is Lucky a dog or a cat or a bear? Where is Jirisan? There’s more to the story, which is critical if you are answering this question on a job application. Now they should call you for an interview to get the answers. If they ask during the interview, it’s still good to show them something but not everything. An interview is a discussion so don’t give any speeches.

Is it a fair question?

It may seem unreasonable to disqualify a candidate because they can’t think of something clever to say about themselves. But some jobs require clever people who say creative, interesting things.

I think it’s fair to ask people to show that they have some personality. If you can’t think of anything interesting to say does that mean you’ve never done anything fun? Does it mean you can’t open up with the interviewer? Of course as describe yourself in 150 characters or less becomes more popular, it also becomes less useful as people will have prepared for the question.

Filed Under: Interview questions & answers

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About the Author

James Trotta began teaching public speaking in 2002 and interview skills in 2008. Somewhere in between he began teaching intercultural communication, public speaking, and resume / cover letter writing.

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