This question often strikes dread into the heart of any job seeker. Your answer could literally make or break your interview.

Mention a weakness the hiring manager doesn’t want to hear – and you could be cut from the list. Or prepare ahead of time and use this question to your advantage.

Here are some steps you can take before the interview to make sure your answer works for you (not against you):

  1. Make a list. You know you have weaknesses, whether they are time management, organization, or skills related. Be honest with yourself—as this is for self-assessment only.
  2. Cross out anything in your core skillset. You won’t use these for you answer as it would reflect too much on your suitability. But keep them in mind for self-improvement purposes.
  3. Circle what you can work on right away. These are your best choices because you can talk about them in your interview and tell the hiring manager what steps you are taking to become stronger.
  4. Work on them. When you talk about a weakness, you need to be able to speak genuinely about what you are doing to improve yourself. Are you trying a new approach? taking a class? using a new app? The only way to be truly genuine is to be truthful.
  5. Practice. Try out your answer on a few trusted friends so that it becomes calm and comfortable. Listen to any feedback they might have on your body language. Be sure to maintain eye contact.

We’ve all heard the joke answer, “I’m a workaholic!” but preparing for this question is an important part of job search. We all have aspects of our work lives we are trying to improve and if we don’t, we should.

What will you choose to work on so that you have a good answer for this difficult question?

Wendy Stackhouse, for Artisan Creative