Q for recruiters and interviewers – what makes a candidate 'special'?

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  • Q for recruiters and interviewers – what makes a candidate 'special'?
  • JEngledow
    Member

    Surely this is going to depend on the job as what makes one person ideal for one job could make them a nightmare for another!

    the teaboy
    Member

    A novelty tie?

    If not, what other experience do you have that’s not in the job description but is relevant and could be applied to the role?

    There will be a number of people who are potentially appointable and all will do an ok job. What they’re looking for is a hidden bonus that they might not have anticipated. Eg, have you worked for a competitor? have you spotted an opportunity to grow or diversify the role? Have you got skills in a complementary industry?

    Premier Icon scaredypants
    Subscriber

    “what sets you apart from the competition?” … “my unwillingness to answer trite, unimaginative questions at interview; goodbye !” 😳

    depends a bit on the job, obviously, but competence in the actual role should be confirmed at shortlisting so unless it’s possible for you to offer more than “required” in your specific job, you’re onto flexibility to do additional relevant work due to other skills/knowledge or else that you’re going to be a nice person to work with.

    Dress that up in some poncy claptrap and off you go …

    lodious
    Member

    I think the ‘special’ quality that employers look for is ‘will he/she fit in with the team we have and do the tasks we need them to do’. It’s as simple as that.

    The employer knows what he wants you to do, if he can visualise you fitting into the role, and doing the work, the jobs yours.

    It’s the same as looking round a house…’can I see me living here?’ If the answers yes, most of the other stuff looks after itself.

    CaptJon
    Member

    Confidence, answers which demonstrate they’ve done some research on the organisation/role, well presented, and can present (at presentation stage) well.

    jackthedog
    Member

    Well, it depends on who the competition is, doesn’t it. I don’t know who you’ve interviewed, so I can’t tell you how I’m different. If you’ve interviewed loads of useless people I’ll be able to list plenty of ways in which I stand out. However if you’ve interviewed – I don’t know, say Batman – this morning, I’m going to look quite average, aren’t I.

    don simon
    Member

    “what sets you apart from the competition?”

    My ability to plan for interviews and have well prepared answers for trite questions like these.

    yunki
    Member

    confidence and integrity.. if it’s there it will shine through

    I agree, odd question as you’ve not seen or interviewed the competition.

    I’d have probably asked of the candidates they’d seen what quality was missing that they’d like to see in order to have someone “set themselves apart” and then try and demonstrate having that.

    the teaboy
    Member

    I don’t think it is an odd or trite question at all.

    It’s feeding you an opportunity to show off about all the great stuff you’ve done.

    Think beforehand about your ‘USP’ – why should they appoint you when they’ve got a sea of other candidates who, on paper, all meet the requirements of the role?

    don simon
    Member

    I agree, odd question as you’ve not seen or interviewed the competition.

    Why is the competition important?

    cranberry
    Member

    I think the clue is in the question:

    “what sets you apart from the competition?”

    don simon
    Member

    You identify your strengths and hope it fits the profile, don’t matter who or what the competition is.
    Or do you think the I’m better than him/her/it because… approach is better?

    stick_man
    Member

    Hi,

    This sort of follows on from my previous thread about what makes a good CV. Thanks for you help on that one.

    I had an interview recently and went armed with lots of examples of how I met the job spec (project mgmt role), but when asked the question “what sets you apart from the competition?” I failed to come up with anything amazing.

    So my question is, when you’re interviewing people, what sort of things make them stand out from the crowd?

    Thanks.

    stick_man
    Member

    Thanks for the advice and opinions everyone.

    I didn’t think it was a trite question to be honest; it’s just a way of letting the candidate sell their wares and, as teaboy said, talk about your USPs. I felt I’d covered the ‘competance’ stuff by that stage and talked about how my approach would benefit them – things like flexibility, pragmatism, hands-on style etc.

    I’ll never know whether they liked my answer or not – I didn’t get the job but that could have been because of something else I did / didn’t say in the interview.

    Like Yunki’s ‘confidence and integrity’ – think that pretty much sums it up and I’ll keep those words in mind for the next one.

    Thanks.

    the teaboy
    Member

    I’ll never know whether they liked my answer or not – I didn’t get the job but that could have been because of something else I did / didn’t say in the interview.

    Why not? Ask for feedback!

    They have to keep original interview notes for x months so they can respond to feedback requests/ prove no discrimination etc.

    Marge
    Member

    I find it is often clear quite quickly if you have rapport (or vice versa) with the candidate.

    I’ve always been interviewing for people who needed to fit into an existing team.

    Arrogance is a huge no-no…..

    stick_man
    Member

    teaboy – I did ask for feedback via the recruitment agency but wasn’t able to get any.

    Marge – know what you mean about rapport. To some extent this is out of the candidate’s control because we all get on with some personalities better than others.

    Some useful stuff in the thread so thanks.

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Subscriber

    when asked the question “what sets you apart from the competition?” I failed to come up with anything amazing.

    Put on the spot if I wasn’t expecting it, my reaction would be to answer “I rock!” with a cheeky grin on my face.

    Not wholly sure what my ‘thought about’ response would be. I’ll, ah, think about it.

    rkk01
    Member

    rapport

    This.

    I was going to say someone engaging, enthusiastic, not full of themselves…

    You look for someone you can work with and will work well with the team. I know HR types will squeal, but to get to interview every candidate should be able to do the job – not every candidate will work well with the rest of the team.

    “what sets you apart from the competition?”

    Bullshit question – will be followed up by bullshit answers.

    Nothing is a greater turn off at interview than an over confident, arrogant, bullshitter.

    I look for someone who can think through complex problems under pressure – and quite often pose work related scenarios to see how people cope with them…

    … and very often the ones who breeze through such technical scenarios are not the ones that capture your attention. The correct, off by heart answers might demonstrate suitable specialist knowledge, but the candidates that sweat it out, out of their comfort zone, and still think through a coherent logical approach, even if the answer is ultimately wrong… are the ones that I like to draw out. Even though they know they are struggling – what they are actually demonstrating is ability to think laterally and to remain cool under pressure (and close scrutiny).

    “what sets you apart from the competition?”

    Depends on the competition. Since you have no idea what criteria they’ve used for filtering candidates and CV’s, and presumably don’t know who else they’ve seen, logically, you can’t possibly give a meaningful answer to the question … so don’t.

    boblo
    Member

    stick_man – Member
    Marge – know what you mean about rapport. To some extent this is out of the candidate’s control because we all get on with some personalities better than others.

    That’s your problem right there. In an interview for a job you really want, you need to establish raport regardless of what you think of the other people in the room. If you’re an experienced PM you’ll be used to this as you have to work with and get on with all sorts of knob jockeys by establishing raport. It’s part of PM 101.

    project
    Member

    Down to two basic things, Personality did you have one,that will fit into the workplace, did you make eye contact etc, did you look like youre as animated and mad as a box of frogs,or just sit there like a wilted carrot.

    Secondly, do you look the part,are you to old or young for the current job, if its a young firm would you employ your dad, or if an old firm would you employ a younger person.

    Some firms are quirky, and employ people with personaility, some dont bother, trying to gauge a responce to both is the hard bit,but just being yourself is the most important bit.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    What sets me apart from the competition? Well if it isn’t really obvious by now then I should probably just leave!

    hels
    Member

    As Personality Test questions go it’s a poor one, but I guess they want to see how you respond. Interviewing is very very tedious, you know in 5 minutes if the person is right, but for “fairness” you have to keep going and ask all the same questions.

    So for me, if you could throw in a few jokes when faced with that question, you would get extra marks.

    atlaz
    Member

    you know in 5 minutes if the person is right, but for “fairness” you have to keep going and ask all the same questions

    Really? Shit, I’ve got rid of people after 10 mins if I know I don’t want them. No sense in wasting everyone’s time.

    Once we establish the right level of proficiency (easy with software devs, not so easy with product managers) what I really want to know is how you’ll respond to working in our environment. Usually this means asking a few stock questions then dismantling your answers a bit and getting clarification on some things.

    As trite as it sounds, if you’re proficient to the right level and a nice enough person, you’re 90% of the way there. I’m past the point where I’d get someone in for a job who is likely to be toxic for the environment just because they’ve got great skills.

    I haven’t seen the competition so how can I say?

    But, if they’re up for a bike race around the office car park at lunchtime I’ll show you what I can do.

    Don’t waffle. Talk about something tangible you’ve done, always helps referring to results. Saying this for both cvs and interviews (worked in recruitment for my sins and interviewer at current place of work)

Viewing 28 posts - 1 through 28 (of 28 total)

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