"So, what do you do for a living?"
For most of us, it's a pretty innocuous question - but for a select few it's a source of dread. Answer truthfully, and likely as not you'll see distaste or outright revulsion.
A recent survey from printing service Solopress found that a quarter of people lie about their jobs, generally by upping their level of responsibility to make themselves sound more important than they actually are.
But there are some jobs where no amount of shading the truth will make much difference to the way you're perceived.
Traditionally, the most-hated profession has been that of traffic warden, placed top of the list back in 2004 in a poll by drinks-maker Horlicks.
Eleven years on, though, and it seems that things have changed. The latest poll, conducted by Intelligent Car Leasing, finds that politicians are clearly in the lead as the nation's most hated professionals; traffic wardens are now in fifth place, cited by only 8% of respondents.
Bankers are the pet hate of one in seven people, with door-to-door salespeople cited by a fifth. Just over a quarter of people say they have the least respect for telemarketers.
But the profession that commands by far the least respect is that of politician, cited by nearly a third.
"Political scandals in recent times have pushed politicians higher up the list. It's safe to say that the political landscape in the UK hasn't been short of scandals in the past decade," says researcher Pete McAllister.
"These included wildly indulgent MPs' expenses, friends of MPs being allowed to sit in on defence meetings and of course the 'Plebgate' incident. Not to mention the very unpopular Conservative/Lib-Dem coalition who introduced a series of seething deficit reduction measures."
Traffic wardens, meanwhile, are becoming thinner on the ground. Following the financial crisis of 2008, public sector jobs have been cut hard, with traffic wardens taking their share of the burden - indeed, some towns have done away with them altogether.
And telesales is booming, with the number of call centre workers in the UK rising steadily by 10% per year: we encounter a lot more of them than we ever used to.
So when you want to make a good impression at a party, how do you describe yourself when you have one of these unpopular jobs?