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The 10 Toughest Interview Questions of All Time -- and How to Answer Them

Sitting through a job interview may very well be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of an adult's life. But while every interview (and interviewer) will be different, the questions asked often are not.

Preparing for your job interview ahead of time will help you exude confidence, interest and motivation when it matters most.

You can give yourself an edge over the competition, and a bit of peace of mind, by anticipating these 10 toughest interview questions -- and preparing your winning responses ahead of time.

1. Tell me about yourself.

While this may sound easy (how can you go wrong talking about yourself?), this broad, open-ended question leaves room for endless babble, without getting out what needs to be said. What needs to be said?

Stick to your academic background, your professional highlights and future career goals (including your desire to work at said company) -- and keep it short. Thirty or 40 seconds should suffice.

2. Why do you want to work here?

This question has a definite hidden agenda (as do many interview questions): did you do your homework about the company?

When answering this toughie, be sure you have in fact read up on the company you are interviewing with. Highlight some reasons why the company is poised in a good position in the industry and offers you a unique opportunity that others do not. You can also explain that part of the reason you want to work there is because your qualifications so perfectly match their needs (and expand on how ).

3. What are your weaknesses?

There is an opportunity here for you to show your ability to overcome hurdles, including your own vulnerabilities. Be honest and explain your weaknesses (do you have a hard time staying organized? Not good at remembering names? Lose your cool easily?), but be sure to counter each one with steps you have taken to overcome it. Hard time with organization? Explain the ingenious filing system you implement to keep things in order, and so on.

4. Why did you leave your last job?

Stifle the desire to say what you may really be thinking on this one ("The boss is a jerk!" may be an honest answer, but not an advisable one). No matter what the reason was for your departure, focus on the positive aspects. No one wants to hire someone who is holding on to angry, bitter or resentful feelings, or who complains constantly.

5. Why should we hire you?

This is your chance to be your own salesperson and let the interviewer know what sets you apart from other applicants. Steer clear of generic terms (like hardworking or motivated), unless you can back them up with real-world examples. Now is the time to lay out all of your strengths and how they mesh with the position you're after.

6. Describe a conflict at your last job, and how you resolved it.

It's a good idea to think of a time (or two) in your past professional career in which you really saved the day. This could be anything from helping coworkers to communicate better to coming up with a way to help the company operate more efficiently. Whatever it is, be sure to focus on the steps you took to resolve the problem, as opposed to the problem itself.

While answering interview questions, remember that the tone of your voice, eye contact, positive facial expressions and a confident posture all make a difference in the impression you make.

7. What are your salary requirements?

It is not appropriate to discuss salary at an initial interview, unless the interviewer brings it up or you are offered the position. Assuming the interviewer asks you this deal-breaker question, tell him or her the salary range you honestly hope to earn in the position. The key is to always say a range, rather than one set number, and be sure to make it known that you're willing to negotiate.

8. Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 ... 15 years?

With a question like this it's best to not lock yourself into anything absolute. In other words, let the interviewer know that you hope to find a position that allows you to grow with the company and as a person.

9. When were you most satisfied at your last job?

This gives the interview a chance to get to know you, and whether you would be happy in the position. You should describe the things you liked most about your last job (working with customers, coming up with long-term strategies, making sales pitches, etc.), then tie it into the position you're after ("I always loved interacting with customers, which is why I was so glad to hear that that would be one of the primary responsibilities in this position.").

10. Do you have any questions for me?

If you say 'no' to this question, it shows a lack of interest, motivation and curiosity about the company. You should come prepared with a list of questions to ask the interviewer -- benefits, work schedule, job responsibilities, company policies and procedures and vacation time would all apply (but refrain from asking about salary at this point).

Recommended Reading

12 Signs it is REALLY Time to Leave Your Job

Workplace Privacy? Here is Why You Now Have NONE


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