Writing a Bio: My 20 Favorite Questions to Ask

Writing a concise bio for a business website may seem like a no brainer. A few paragraphs, hit all the usual points like schools, charity work, career highlights and then, BAM! Bio, check.

The problem with that approach? There’s a high likelihood you’ll churn out super boring bios, fast. When I think of old school bios, I think of a stuffy headshot accompanied by a few paragraphs of text that no one wants to read. But the days of stale bios are over. Believe it or not, people actually want to learn about you and your company, and they’d rather not fall asleep while doing it.

A well-written bio will combine the overall company culture and voice with that of the profiled team member. While website bios are generally concise—anywhere from Twitter-short to a few paragraphs—choosing the particulars to highlight can be tricky. Gathering the right information up front, in a 15-20 minute interview, is key.

Here are my favorite questions to ask when writing a bio. Note: these don’t include the usual slew, like general career experience and education.

1.      Who is someone you admire, and why?

2.      Tell me three pet peeves.

3.      What’s a typical day like for you?

4.      Do you have any skills or talents that most people don’t know about?

5.      If you could be anywhere other than here, right this minute, where would you be? (Don’t overthink it!)

6.      Flashback to when you were 10 years old. What do you want to be when you grow up?

7.      If we went to happy hour, what would you order?

8.      Finish this sentence. On Sunday mornings, you can usually find me...

9.      How do you want people to remember you?

10.  What do you think are the best skills that you bring to your job?

11.  Name three words that you describe you.

12.  How do you think your colleagues would describe you?

13.  What do you want to make sure you do before you die?

14.  What’s a goal you have for yourself that you want to accomplish in the next year?

15.  Name a few of your daily habits (other than a shower and brushing your teeth).

16.  What publications do you regularly read?

17.  What are you happiest doing, when you’re not working?

18.  What are some causes you care about?

19.  What do you do with friends in your spare time?

20.  What would be your personal motto