How Best to Answer “What Do You Do?”

“What do you do?” is one of the most commonly asked questions – in professional and personal settings.

Most people would launch into a monologue, starting with what they do. But, how you respond to it can open or close opportunities for you. 

How can you answer this question to make the answer work for you?

When asked, “What do you do?” 

Start with what’s called an elevator pitch.  As the name implies, you need to finish telling your story by the time your elevator ride ends. Bottom line –  keep it short, catchy, and engaging.

To ensure all this and more, start your elevator pitch with a hook and end with a question.

Start with something that surprises the listener – almost like it wakes them up from their slumber. This is known as “pattern interrupt.”


Give the other person a few moments to process what you have said. If you don’t pause, they are likely to miss the next part.


Next, give them some context and end with an open-ended question that forces them to engage. Ensure that the question is genuine and more than just a yes/no answer


End with an open-ended (not a yes or a no) question. The idea is to start a conversation.

The Elevator Pitch Template

Practice makes you perfect.

Work on perfecting your pitch. Rehearse your pitch but keep it natural.

Gather feedback from people about your pitch and keep refining it till you get it right.

Tailor your pitch to both the audience and the medium. 

It’ll be different when you’re introducing yourself to a potential client on a sales call versus introducing yourself to multiple people in a group.


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