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How to Answer “What Do You Do” Question: 20 Best Ways


When you meet someone new, then at some point in time they will probably ask “So what do you do?” or “how do you do?”.

The question what do you do seems easy to answer if you are engaged in a job or doing something prestigious to earn a livelihood. But what if you are not doing anything in exchange for money! Answering this type of question then becomes the toughest thing in the world to do.

But the fact is that if a question is asked, then it becomes mandatory for you to speak a reliable answer to it.

Lets understand clearly the difference what do you and how do do before we move ahead

What do you do meaning:

In a general sense if someone asks you “What do you do” during an interview or when you meet a new person for the first time or when you didn’t see someone for a very long time it means that they want to know what your job is and what you do for a living. This is a very simple question to get introduced to someone.

How do you do meaning:

This is more like a formal greeting similar to “It’s a pleasure to meet you” or “Pleased to meet you.” for which a proper response can be like “It’s nice to meet you” or “I am fine, thank you, and you?” or just “Hello.”

answer what do you do

Answering the Dangerous Question – What do you do:

While you may straightaway answer the question by telling about your job or work profile, there can be another way to it if you talk about your family. The thing is that there are always better ways of understanding, managing, and then responding to a question.

So, just like any other question has a solution, similarly this question also has a genuine and reliable answer.

Here are some pretty good ways that cannot only help you to handle the entire problematic situation but can also help you to answer this question in an impressive and acceptable manner.

1. Understand the Question First:

Assume there is no evil agenda. Don’t make it a point that the person is asking such question just because he/she wants to make fun of you. It might be so that someone genuinely wants to know about your work process.

Take things positively. It is because most of the times individuals who have a better answer to this question might ask the question to another person.

2. Focus on how it differentiates you from others:

The issue with getting to know people is that if you ask them ‘what is vital to you?’, then most individuals say their family, friends, hobbies, and other stuff.

So the better way to know them is to know how they spend their routine and what exactly consumes most of their time. It is because most individuals do a job that they like and are happy doing it. And the best way to know this is to ask them what do you do?

3. Don’t just focus on your job:

Asking this question does not imply that the individual only wishes to know about your job profile. Maybe this can be his way of beginning a conversation.

So, you don’t have to go straight answering the question by describing your work profile and mentioning what you do in the office and what discomforts you. Rather, first think and frame a positive answer and then respond to the question.

4. Focus on niches where you spend your energy and time:

If you are hired in a reputed company and working on an interesting project at present, then you may discuss that project.

This will not only be a good start to the conversation but will also inform the other person the potentials you have. This also illustrates that you are an interesting person who loves to face challenges and win over them.

5. Put your focus on things that you are learning:

A job is not only about earning, but it is also about learning. What interests you and what you opt to speak more about you rather than your job profile and type of job you are working in.

Some individuals learn a lot from their job while others learn when they don’t have a job. So no matter what the situation is, it is vital to make sure that you are learning.

6. Don’t try to defend yourself:

Remember that individuals expect you to behave kind. They are trying to build a connection so that they can talk more with you. This might be appealing to you as well. So answer vulnerable and genuinely without getting defensive.

7. Find out the problem that needs to be resolved:

When someone is asking this type of question, especially in a business meet then definitely he will be affected with the answer.

It is because, in the business world, individuals are primarily concerned about their problems and finding a relevant solution to it. So the finest way is to look for the problem they have and try to find it out.

For instance, you might be talking to a new business entrepreneur who doesn’t have much sales knowledge, but you are very good at it. So the problem is identified and you just have to deliver the solution just by thinking like an entrepreneur.

8. Now you may mention your business title:

Now once the problem is solved, you can then mention your business profile or designation. If the listener is convinced with your answer then definitely he will appreciate you more.

9. Explain other results that you can provide:

If your conversation is improving on a positive scale, then you can brief more of your services that you are ready to deliver. Like, you may render some more such services, which the listener is in need of etc

10. You can also share your credentials:

If he is partially convinced then, you can mention the proof of your credentials verbally. You can share your background information.

If you have done masters in a specific topic, or you have gained expertise in a particular field and that from a reputed institution, then you can always share it with the listener.

11. List struggles or sacrifices that took you to reach here:

If your life till today has passed interestingly, and you have gone through multiple ups and downs then even you can discuss it with the listener. You can share your experiences and tell him/her what all it took to reach here.

This will not only help the listener to know better about you but may also impress him to a great extent.

12. Speak about people you have helped:

You might be a person who does not host a senior level job profile, but overall you are a kind individual who has helped number of others in one way or other. You can talk about such individuals who you have helped.

This will obviously clearly not explain your job profile but will allow the listener to know the actual value that you have brought to lives of distinct individuals.

13. Mention an Anecdote about your work:

Narrating an incident is always compelling. Might be your everyday work tasks are not much interesting, but there must be days when you have learned something new or explore something interesting.

You can narrate any such experience to the listener and then brief about your job and its requirement in the market.

14. Let the conversation be a learning experience for the listener:

Might be you are talking to a person who doesn’t possess much knowledge about your industry. Take it as a golden chance and allow the listener to know about interesting facts about your industry.

You can talk about the void in the marketplace that your industry or probably you are filling. You can also converse about current happenings in your industry. Let the other person know one or more interesting things, which you have learned from your industry.

15. Don’t be afraid:

It is obvious to hesitate to begin a chit-chat with a stranger. But if you think that the person opposite to you is genuine, then don’t be afraid of sharing your professional talk with him.

You can speak about your journey, your career path, your dreams, and proudest accomplishments that you have successfully gained. Maybe the listener can be of great help to you in achieving your business goals.

16. Be genuine and relevant:

You don’t have to speak false stories when you are talking about your work profile or job. It might be the case the person on other side belongs to same industry or have pretty good knowledge about your industry.

Telling fake stories can mess up entire situation and can even make you feel embarrassed or ashamed. So even if you don’t belong to the giant corporate world, if you are doing a decent job and earning your living on your own then there is no need to fake out.

17. Focus on your Preferences:

Find any attribute of yours that really energizes you and focus on that for a healthy conversation. If you show to others how enthusiastic you are about various things, then you appear like a magnet. Individuals are actually interested in being around such people.

18. Promote ‘You’:

The world is in need of people who can bring real worth. Everyone is hunting for individuals who can add value to their business or industry in one way or other. It would be better if every individual gets aware of its strengths, weaknesses, and likes, and is willing to add more value to the business.

19. Ask the same question to another person:

Sometimes we are so tensed or stressed answering this type of question and forget that even we have the right to ask the same question to the listener. So, make sure you don’t forget to ask what the other person does?

Ask the other person about his work and if you have some common grounds to talk on, then you can definitely have an interesting conversation process.

20. Stay enthusiastic throughout:

No matter for how long your conversation lasts. To make them healthy and interesting and to leave an impact on another individual it would be great if you appear enthusiast throughout the talk process. Talking enthusiastically is an easy way to make a lasting impression on another individual.

When you are talking with someone or giving an answer to the question, then you are not doing any favor to other by being honest and vulnerable. By being a genuine and seeming enthusiast, you are just opening doors to a conversation that can help you generate a lasting impression on others.

“What do you do?” is a question somewhat similar to “Who are you?” So while answering this question you just have to be real and this will seem to you like one of the easiest questions to answer.

As a recruiter if you want to come of out of this generic question what do you do and create an environment where you can have a real conversation with your candidates then you have look for these alternative questions.

30 Questions to Ask Someone Other Than “What Do You Do?”

  1. How do you feel life has worked out so far for you?
  2. How do you spend your day?
  3. How’s your week been so far? and “What’s been the best part of it?
  4. Right now, What’s something you think about doing?
  5. What are some of your favorite emojis?
  6. What are some problems you wish were solved?
  7. What are the things you like to do?
  8. What are you looking forward to in the future?
  9. What Are You Most Excited About at the Moment?
  10. What are you most passionate about in life?
  11. What are you working on right now?
  12. What charities/causes are you passionate about
  13. What did you want to be when you grew up?
  14. What do you like to do for fun?
  15. What habit are you proud of and why?
  16. What habits would you like to improve?
  17. What is the interesting thing that ever happened to you?
  18. What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned recently?
  19. What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you?
  20. What is your favorite thing to spend money on, and why?
  21. What personal problems do you wish you could solve?
  22. What was the best thing that happened to you this year?
  23. What was the last picture you took with your phone today?
  24. What would you do with your life? If money were no object?
  25. What’s been on your mind lately?
  26. Whats on your mind right now
  27. What’s something that always cheers you up?
  28. What’s your favorite word and why?
  29. Where is your mind right now
  30. Who would you share a meal with if you could choose anyone?

Just try asking these questions instead of asking what do you do to get a deeper and better understanding of the candidates mind.

Do you have some other alternative questions in mind? Share them in the comments we will add them to our list?