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PayScale’s VIP Blog Roundup: What to Ask Instead of ‘What Do You Do?’

Topics: Career Advice

What’s the worst part about networking? All the horrifyingly dull questions you have to ask and answer, in order to establish new relationships with your fellow humans. But, there’s no law that says we have to stick to the same old, same old. Mixing things up might actually get some better answers, build stronger connections, and bore everyone a lot less. In this week’s roundup, we look at 27 questions to ask instead of “What do you do?,” plus the housekeeping questions you must ask at your next job interview, and the best ways to get motivated when you’re feeling uninspired.


(Photo Credit: BAM Corp/Flickr)

Courtney Seiter at Buffer: 27 Questions to Ask Instead of “What Do You Do?”

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“I’m a bit of an introvert in social situations, and my natural instinct when I meet new people is that old fallback, ‘What do you do?'” Seiter writes.

Recently, she says, a Geekwire piece explained a few reasons why this question isn’t always the best way to get to know someone:

  • It’s understood as “What do you do for a living?” and ranks paycheck activities above all others in the get-to-know-you hierarchy.
  • It assumes permanence and stability when our economy and values pave choppier paths.
  • It pins your identity to a job instead of pinning a job to your bigger, evolving identity.
  • It loads the resume, an automatic output given time and time again.
  • The person may not have a job at the moment, which is awkward to explain in this context.
  • The person may not care about what they do for a living. But they have to tell you anyway.

Seiter offers 27 better questions to ask instead, including “What do you like to do?,” “What did you want to be when you grew up?,” and “What’s your favorite emoji?”

Susan P. Joyce at Work Coach Cafe: The 5 Absolute MUST-ASK Questions in Your Next Job Interview

It’s hard to keep tabs on the details when you’re nervous, and there’s no more nerve-wracking process than job-searching. It’s no wonder that many of us stumble out of the office where we just had our job interview, loosen our tie or our belt, and realize that we have:

1. No idea what happens next.

2. No clue whom to contact.

That’s why Joyce advised job seekers to ask the important “housekeeping” questions.

“The answers to these questions can give you an idea not only of how their process works, but also how urgently they want to fill the job,” she writes. “And, quite possibly, how interested they are in hiring you.”

See her list, here.

Alli Polin at Break the Frame: How to Do Something When You Feel Like Doing Nothing

What do you do when you don’t feel like doing anything at all? Leadership coach Alli Polin suggests several ways to salvage the day, including my personal favorite, productive procrastination:

“Do something small that needs to get done. I pulled together a pile of laundry and threw it in the wash. Not working on my business but productive nonetheless,” she says. “Clothes in, dishes put away, grocery shopping done, I sat back down in the chair. Still didn’t feel motivated to rock and roll on my real work for the day but felt satisfied that I’d made progress in other areas.”

Sometimes, you have to be willing to count the little things. Read Polin’s other suggestions, here.

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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