What do you do? Create a Strong Answer to This Very American Question

You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

This common expression reminds us that you want to make sure you present yourself well from the very first time someone interacts with you, whether that’s meeting your girlfriend’s parents for the first time, showing up to a job interview, or randomly chatting with a stranger at a café or bar.

The same thing goes for meeting someone online: that first email or social media comment says a lot about you and the way you move within the world! 🌎

How I Approach Making a First Impression

Your first impression really matters!

Have you noticed that in all my videos, I remind you each and every time that I am your guide to the essential conversation skills you need to sound more natural in English?

This is because I want you to know what to expect from me from our very first meeting: you’re going to learn about conversations in English, and you’re going to learn how to sound more natural.

You’ll notice I don’t mention that I’m a teacher, even though I do, in fact, teach English. 😉

By being more specific about what I focus on in my work, you already have a clearer understanding of what I can help you with.

You also want to be prepared to make a strong, clear first impression. Let’s talk about how.

Expect This Question: What do you do?

If you’re interacting with Americans in casual networking situations, it is guaranteed that someone will ask you the question, “What do you do?”

Personally, I think this question is incredibly lazy.

After all, you’re basically challenging the person to impress you with your fancy job title or responsibilities!

But even still, you need to prepare to answer this question.

When I lived in New York City, it was the number one question strangers asked me at happy hour. Work-minded city dwellers tend to emphasize your professional story.

So that’s why I started with this question in the very first episode of Conversations with Kim!

In this episode, we talk about the question “What do you do?” and its slightly more specific and more interesting variations:

  • What do you do for work?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • What do you do for fun?

We also discuss how to share more details about your work and passions that will enable the other person to engage in a more interesting conversation with you.

Making the Conversation More Interesting

If someone asks you, “What do you do?”, you don’t have to respond simply with your official position at work.

Remember, it’s *not* about trying to impress someone with your exciting job.

You are interesting simply by virtue of being yourself.

Your work, studies, hobbies, and interests are fascinating to me because I don’t know much about them.

Learning to answer this question with more detail will encourage the other person to ask you even more questions and lead to a better conversation.

For example, in the video, I mention that I only have a vague idea of what a nutritionist actually does.

When Ieda from Brazil shares more details about her work as a nutritionist, I’m completely fascinated and want to learn more.

If she hadn’t shared more details, the conversation might have ended there, because I wouldn’t have had much to say about a job I know little or nothing about.

Think about how you can respond to this question in a way that volunteers information to get the other person intrigued.

Watch the other examples in the video and to understand how to answer the question in a more compelling, more engaging way!

Your Turn

Now it’s your turn! After watching the video lesson, leave a comment sharing more specifics about what you actually do in your work, studies, or free time!

Ready to communicate more effectively in conversations? Learn communication skills that enable you to connect with other people and engage in natural conversations and professional discussions. Get started here.

2 thoughts on “What do you do? Create a Strong Answer to This Very American Question”

  1. I currently teach English at a language school. It’s been about 3 years now. I work primarily with children and teenagers, who have some trouble understanding the material taught at school.

    • Thanks for sharing a more detailed introduction to what you do for work. This gives me more information so I could ask more interesting, engaging questions. 🙂


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