How to answer "What do you do?" in English

When you are having a conversation in English the question “what do you do?” usually comes up rather quickly. It is usually the second or third question you will be asked when you meet a new person. 

“What do you do?” most commonly means:
• “What is your job?”
• “What do you work in?”
• “What is your career?”

Sometimes people answer this question by asking a question like; “You mean, what is my job?”

Everyone has a different answer and there is no real formula to answering this question. Focus on telling the person you are talking to something interesting about you or your work. It could be what you are learning or interested in doing and not just about your boring office job.

Remember, when people ask you, “What do you do?” it is not a job interview and they do not want to know every single little thing you do at work. It is common to generalize. If the person wants to continue having a conversation about this subject that will ask you more questions.

Below are 30 possible answers to the question ‘What do you do?’:

1. I work at the circus… I mean, I am a preschool teacher.
2. I teach adults from all over the world to speak English.
3. I am self-employed.
4. I work for myself. I sell a variety of lotions and perfumes.
5. I am an entrepreneur. I run three small businesses online.
6. I am a carpenter and work part-time as a fireman.
7. I work as a paralegal. Basically, I call crazy people all day long.
8. I give people money that they didn’t know they have… or what is commonly known as an accountant.
9. I am a stay-at-home-mom. So, I have fun will my kids all day.
10. I’m unemployed but I used to work for a large company.
11. I am professional coffee drinker.
12. I am studying to be an engineer. I work part time at a family business.
13. I am a student. So, I spend most my time going to class and work part time at a gym.
14. I am a waitress right now but I am looking for something new.
15. I am a police officer.
16. I help find new homes for rescued and abused animals.
17. Right now, I am studying to be a Zumba teacher. I love to work out and dance.
18. I’m paid to travel around the world; which I love. I am a flight attendant.
19. Well, I surf a lot and find whatever work I can to get by.
20. I’m in high school. I’m on the swim team and in the honor choir.
21. I work downtown at a marketing firm.
22. I just graduated with my B.A. So, I’m job searching right now.
23. I educate victims of domestic violence. I help them create safety plans and leave abusive relationships.
24. I work in accounting but at night I play guitar in a rock band.
25. I work in Logan Park as a criminal lawyer.
26. I work in a cube and spend my day on Facebook and YouTube.
27. It’s kind of complicated… but basically I work in the pharmaceutical sales industry.
28. I don’t work. I live at home with my parents and am finishing my studies at North University.
29. I lift heavy objects for rich people.
30. I am writing a book and work part time at a coffee shop.

So, next time someone asks you, “What do you do?”  be more creative and let your personality shine through in your answer. The person that you are speaking with will be interested in what you have to say and will want to continue the conversation with you.

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