WHEN you are up against fierce competition, saying the right thing can make the difference between getting and losing the job you want.

Here's how to prepare yourself for answering tough interview questions:

Q: Why do you want this job?

Be honest: Why do you want this role? Are you really interested in what the position entails? Are you impressed by the company's view on social and corporate responsibility? Or is it just the increase in salary?

Besides the pay package, you should always look at all aspects of a job such as cultural fit, management style, benefits and growth opportunities before making a decision. These factors are equally critical to your career.

Tackle this question by knowing exactly what will be expected of you. Be prepared and do some research. Have you seen the job description? Have you researched the company's website? Do you know people who work there who have recommended the company as a good employer?

Avoid sounding vague or self-serving. Don't say: "Because I think I'd be good at it"; "Because it seems like a good opportunity for me"; or "Because it pays well".

A recommended answer may sound like this: "Having read the job description and having looked at your company's website, I am attracted to the role as I have the suitable skills. But I am also very interested in the additional responsibility and exposure I will gain."

Adapt your answer to suit the role. Will you have increased responsibility? Will you be supporting one senior director instead of a team of 50? Will you have a more varied work scope and be involved in company projects and events?

Q: Why should we hire you?

This question is all about selling yourself. Why should someone hire you? Are you proficient at Microsoft Office with excellent knowledge of PowerPoint and Excel? Are you creative and do you really think you can add value to the company?

By looking at the job description, try pointing out your strengths by using examples of work you have previously done in relation to the requirements for this role.

You can say, "I believe that I meet the requirements listed in your job description. I feel that I would really excel in this role as I particularly enjoy working in this industry (or role type). In my previous role I was responsible for (Use exact examples of how you can prove your value)."

Show enthusiasm for the role and sound confident when you answer. If you cannot convince yourself that you are perfect for the role, it will be even more challenging to convince someone else.

Q: What is your biggest weakness?

This is known as a negative question, one that interviewers use often to test your ability to keep your cool. Let's face it: We all have weaknesses, and no one is perfect.

But that does not mean you should allow your weaknesses to get in the way of your dream job. Instead, you can spin your weaknesses in a positive manner.

Look at the job description and choose one required responsibility you feel you can improve on. For example, are you afraid to make public presentations? Does your time management need a little work? Do you feel you will benefit from Microsoft Office training?

A possible answer (depending on your weakness) is "I am aware that my systems skills, Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint, are not up to an advanced level, but I'm working on it by teaching myself in my spare time", or "I think time management is something that I could work on. I've been doing some research on planning and am getting better at prioritising my work."

Avoid saying that you are a "perfectionist" who cannot let a detail go or that "I have no weaknesses that I know of". This only makes you come across as arrogant and overconfident.

Q: Why are you leaving your current role?

Always remain positive when discussing your reasons for leaving. This is not the time to rant about how unfair last year's bonus was or how unreasonable your current boss is.

Whatever reason you may have for leaving, make sure you give your answer a positive spin. If you are feeling undervalued in your role or have a personality clash with your boss or colleague, consider how this would sound to a potential employer. Make sure that your answer puts you in a favourable light.