What’s your greatest weakness is one of the most common interview questions but one of the trickiest to answer.

It seems strange to discuss your negatives in a situation that is all about selling yourself but your answer tells the interviewer a lot about you and can potentially  make or break your interview.  Although the question is about weaknesses, don’t take it too literally and ruin the interview by talking about your habit of being late or how your last boss constantly gave out about how messy you are. Instead, your answer should always be framed around positive aspects of your skills and abilities as an employee. Below are tips and tricks to make a potential employer think your ‘weaknesses’ are actually your best qualities.

Discuss Your Positive Negatives

One way to ace this tricky question is to turn your negatives into positives. Examples of this method include “I’m a perfectionist which means I can sometimes spend too long on projects but I work hard to get the balance right”, or “I find it hard to delegate to others which can lead to frustration for me and my team members. However, I am learning to recognise when others are stronger than me at certain tasks.

However if you use this approach its important not to come across as disingenuous, don’t simply say ‘I work too hard’ or ‘I have no weaknesses’, the interviewer will see right through your shameless avoidance of the question and put simply,  you won’t get the job.

Discuss Unrelated Weaknesses

Alternatively you could tackle this question by discussing your weaknesses, but only the ones that have little to do with the job you’re applying for. Analyse the skills and strengths that are key to the role you are interviewing for and then answer with an honest shortcoming, not essential for success in the job at hand.

For example, if you are applying for a nursing job, the ability to communicate, simply and sensitively, with patients is vital. The ability to make presentations to large groups is not. Provide an example of your nervousness around public speaking while at the same stress that your skills at connecting one to one are exceptional.

Discuss Your Improvements

Another way to successful answer would be to give an example of a skill you have improved during your previous roles. If you use the example of public speaking, you could show the interviewer that it was a massive hurdle but with practise, hard work and dedication you are now far more confident. This shows your potential employer that you are proactive and willing to improve without being told.

However if you use this strategy, use skills not directly important to the job. You don’t want your qualifications for the job to be seen as something you struggle with.

Above all, the key to giving a successful answers is to keep it positive. Don’t use the word weakness, always keep focused on the positive. The key is to confidently steer the interview back to what makes you fabulous, without dodging or avoiding the question.