One strategy is to turn a negative into a positive. Admit to a weakness – a minor one – then quickly turn the conversation to how you have overcome that weakness, or how you manage it.
For example, I get distracted very, very easily. A person walks by, an email pops up, or I hear someone talking about a movie I just saw and have to add my two cents. I manage these distractions, in part, by wearing headphones and listening to music to block out sounds, and by turning off all auto notifications on my email – no dings or bouncing icons. This demonstrates to the interviewer that I'm capable of self-assessment and self-improvement.
And that's the main point of the question. The interviewer wants to know if you can recognize where you need improvement and if you can figure out how to make yourself better.
And keep in mind, you don't want to admit to anything that might be a deal breaker, like you hate writing or don't always work well with others. But you also don't want to say anything completely irrelevant either. A weakness for chocolate or an inability to manage your chequebook are just weird answers.
Corinna vanGerwen is a freelance editor and writer. She has worked as senior editor at Style at Home, senior design editor at Cottage Life and is the former Canadian Director of Ed2010. She has also held the position of operations manager at a boutique PR agency, where she handled strategic planning and daily operations.