“What Do You Do?” Is This The Trickiest Job Interview Question?

2 min read · 7 years ago


I had always thought that “Tell me about yourself” was the trickiest job interview question. Then I read a blog by Laura Dignan that got me to believe there’s a tougher one: “What Do You Do?”

Answering this seemingly simple question during an interview in a straightforward way can lose you the job offer.

The “what do you do?” question is really asking:

  • How relevant (to the hiring company/manager) is what you do?
  • How important is what you do?
  • How effective is what you do?
  • How do you do what you do uniquely?
  • How do you get done what you do?
  • What do you do that we need done?

Of course, you have no more than 60 to 90 seconds to answer all of these cohesively.

Dignan describes herself as a writer and one person marketing and communications department. Her blog’s headline: I was asked to explain my job and I had a lame answer” brought back several memories. Almost all of us have made weak answers to similar questions, usually because we got down in the weeds and took attention away from strategy, leadership, and results.

While she wasn’t talking about how to ace a job interview, she provides a good example of how we can elevate our job descriptions and thereby ourselves:

  • From the details of what we do.
    • Responsibilities.
    • Projects.
    • Tactics.
    • Tools.
  • To why we do what we do and why it’s important.
    • Objectives.
    • Strategies.
    • Teamwork.
    • Leadership.
    • Innovation.
    • Results.

She summarized the value of her work using three “easy to understand descriptors”:

  • Educate.
  • Inform.
  • Promote.

In her blog, she then uses a paragraph and three bullets under each descriptor to communicate how she accomplishes each.

Your resume and interview answers need to deliver an overarching benefit based on what you do that will improve results and help keep the hiring manager employed.

This article was syndicated from Business 2 Community: “What Do You Do?” Is This The Trickiest Job Interview Question?

More Business & Finance articles from Business 2 Community: