Making conversation comes more naturally to some of us than others. Whether you’re into small talk or not, getting a conversation off the ground can sometimes feel like a struggle.
The thing is, being able to build a rapport with new people is really important. People form judgements about you within just three seconds of meeting you.
From employment opportunities to dating, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Your ability to make a connection with people can make a big difference to your life.
If the thought of striking up a conversation makes you feel stressed or nervous, you’re not alone. However, with a little preparation, there are the right questions to get to know someone in every situation. We’ve put together some of the best icebreaker questions to help you feel prepared for any conversation.
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What Are Good Icebreaker Questions?
Icebreakers are questions to ask someone to get to know them. The main purpose of an icebreaker question is to get people interacting with each other.
For this to be effective, it needs to be something that makes people feel comfortable. For people to feel comfortable, a question needs to strike the balance between being personal, but not intrusive.
A good conversation starter should be open-ended, instead of closed. This means avoiding yes/no answers. Choose questions that need more of an explanation or description.
Open ended ‘get to know you’ questions can easily lead into further questions. This helps conversation to develop and flow naturally.
Finally, a good icebreaker is suitable for the context. In some situations, it’s fine to use humor and a lighthearted approach. In other settings this wouldn’t be appropriate.
General Icebreaker Questions
Some icebreakers are classic. You can use them in pretty much any situation and they’ll get that ice smashed faster than a cocktail shaker. Here are some solid ‘get to know you’ questions to ask people.
- What’s your best childhood memory?
- What’s on your bucket list?
- What’s your favorite animal?
- What cocktail would you be and why?
- If you could time travel would you go forward or back?
- What’s the best book you’ve read?
- If you could only listen to one music genre forever, what would it be?
- Have you ever met a celebrity?
- What’s one place you’d never want to visit?
- What do you wish you were better at?
- What’s your biggest bug bear?
- If you had to pick a new name what would it be?
- Which three apps do you use most?
- Which dog breed would you be?
- What’s something you wouldn’t try again?
- What’s your party trick?
- What’s the last thing you learned?
- Have you ever won a contest?
- What would you do if you had an extra hour in the day?
- How would you spend $50,000?
Funny Icebreaker Questions
There are some scenarios that call for a funny icebreaker question. For example, if you’re introducing two groups of friends for the first time. Or a social situation that needs some help getting warmed up.
Funny icebreaker questions should be something anyone can have an answer for. They also need to avoid being too niche or controversial if you don’t know the group that well yet. Here are a few to try.
- Which three people would you want on your team in a zombie attack?
- Which emoji do you use most?
- Have you ever sent a message to the wrong person? What happened?
- What’s the most embarrassing fashion mistake you’ve made?
- Who was your childhood celeb crush?
- Who would play you in a movie of your life?
- What’s your go-to karaoke song?
- Who would be your first guest if you had a talkshow?
- What food did you hate as a kid?
- Have you ever had a nickname?
- What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
- What’s your guilty pleasure?
- What’s the craziest dare you ever did?
- What do you do that reminds you of your parents?
- What’s the worst haircut you’ve had?
- What’s been your most embarrassing moment?
- What’s the best prank you’ve ever played?
- What’s the worst thing you’ve ever gotten away with?
- What’s the funniest joke you know?
- Which words did you always say wrong as a child?
- What’s the most lost you’ve ever gotten?
- What did you always get in trouble for as a kid?
- What was the first record/tape/CD/download you bought?
- What was your best halloween costume?
- What’s the weirdest fact you know?
- What are you really bad at?
Weird Icebreaker Questions
Some situations call for weird icebreaker questions. An unexpected meeting with an eccentric uncle, or catching up with a wacky friend that loves unusual conversation.
You never know when you might need to match (or outweird) someone’s weird level, so keep a few of these weird questions up your sleeve.
- What’s your spirit animal/vegetable/character and why?
- If you were teleported to medieval times, how would you make a living?
- If you had to have an animal sidekick, what would you choose?
- If you had to pick a tattoo for a family member, what would it be?
- What do you think my voice/laugh sounds like?
- If your legs were replaced with animal legs, what animal would you choose?
- Your new name is your dad’s middle name followed by your favorite childhood food, what is it?
- If you were a potato product, what would you be?
- What’s the stupidest thing you’ve done to make someone laugh?
- What crime would you commit if you could get away with it?
- If you could eliminate one thing that you have to do in bathroom, what would it be?
Icebreakers for Making Friends
Making friends doesn’t always feel easy as an adult. It’s no longer as simple as just stting next to each other in homeroom or both being obsessed with dinosaurs! Or is it?
If you’re in a situation where you are trying to make some new buddies, it can still be pretty straightforward. Sharing values and interests are some of the most solid foundations for adult friendships.
Questions that give people the opportunity to show what’s important to them are great. So are icebreakers that indicate how they like to have fun. Here are some examples:
‘Which season would you say describes your personality best and why?’. This is a great way to learn about someone’s outlook on life, their favorite activities, and their sense of humor! Based on their response you can ask follow-up questions do find out more about them.
‘What’s your favorite quote or motto and why?’. This question tells you what the person’s values are, and what philosophy guides them in life. It might also show you who they admire or look up to, if the quote is from a famous person.
Here are a few more to try:
- What was the best job you’ve ever had?
- What’s your favorite city?
- What was the most fun you’ve had in the last month?
- What’s the best concert/game you’ve ever been to?
- What’s your ideal way to spend an afternoon.
Networking Icebreaker Questions
In many industries, networking events are a fact of life. Whether you’re an entrepreneur trying to get your face out there, or a company rep doing outreach. There are name stickers to read and hands to shake, but it doesn’t have to be a chore.
Although networking events can get a bad rap, icebreaker questions can smash through the awkwardness. Here are a few to try
If you want to cut straight to the point, ask ‘what are you looking for here today?’. Whatever the type of event, this quickly establishes whether you have shared objectives to connect on.
‘Do you know anyone else here?’. This one gives you the opportunity to bond over being at an event alone. Alternatively, it lets you know if the person in front of you can introduce you to any other interesting people.
‘What do you like to do when you’re not networking?’. This question gently pokes fun at the idea that networking can be a drag. It also tells you more about the person and their personal interests.
Icebreaker Questions for Work
If you’re starting at a new company or are onboarding new hires, some icebreakers can help everyone get started on the right foot. They’re also useful if you’re part of a big company and find yourself next to the water cooler with an unfamiliar face.
If you need to maintain a serious and professional atmosphere, questions like ‘what did you do this weekend’? are good openers. It’s a safe bet, because everyone gets a weekend. It’s also more open ended than just asking if they had a good one.
If you’re waiting for a meeting to start, questions like ‘what do you think this meeting is about?’ can break the silence and also tell you different perspectives of the other attendees.
In professional situations it’s best to keep things light and friendly if you don’t really know the other person well.
If you need to get the ball rolling on a collaborative project or check-in meeting, it can be hard to know where to start. These questions will give you a starting point with new coworkers or colleagues.
- Which tasks/projects do you find you tend to procrastinate on and why?
- If you could automate one part of your job, what would it be?
- Which tools do you use most at work and why?
- If you could implement one strategy across the company, what would it be?
- If you could work in a different department for a day, which would it be?
- If you could acquire a new skill with zero training, what would it be?
- What’s your biggest professional goal for the next year?
- What’s been your biggest professional challenge of the last month?
- If you could bring anyone else onto this project, who would it be?
Social Office Icebreakers
For questions that will get people more relaxed and interactive, bring some humor into it. Ask questions that everyone can relate to, and get their imaginations going.
‘What’s the silliest/goofiest thing you’ve heard someone say in a meeting?’. This question gets people sharing funny stories about themselves or their teammates.
‘Which kids’ book or TV character did you most identify with growing up?’. When we imagine ourselves as kids it brings everyone onto the same level and breaks down any hierar
‘What would you love to talk about that no-one has asked about recently?’. This question builds empathy between the group members.
‘Which three hashtags would best describe your work personality?’. This one gets people to be creative and show their humor a little bit.
‘What would your slogan be if you were standing for election’. This tells you what someone’s values are, and how they’d like to be perceived.
Job Interview Icebreakers
If you’re interviewing for a job, building a rapport with the interviewers is important for your success. Asking the right icebreakers is a chance to show your personality, as well as finding out more about the interview panel. Here are a few to choose from.
- How many people are you interviewing today?
- What would impress you in this interview?
- What question would you ask if you were me?
- What did you like about my application?
- What challenges has the team been facing lately?
- What’s the best thing about this company?
- How often do people laugh here?
- How long does it feel like you’ve worked here?
- How did you get to be in your position?
- How would you describe the culture here?
- Where would the company/department like to be in 5 years?
- What are some hobbies of the people in the team?
All of these questions get people talking, as well as giving insight as to what the company is like. They also show you a bit about the culture and whether it’s a positive place to work.
Icebreaker Questions for Online Meetings
With remote working seemingly here to stay, we need to get comfortable with online meetings. Although it can feel unnatural to try and form connections through a screen, there are Zoom icebreakers that help.
‘What’s your favorite item in the room with you now?’. This question is a fun way to make people feel more connected from their home offices. It also tells you more about what is important to people, which is more humanizing.
‘What’s the shortest/longest video meeting you’ve had?’. This one can get some funny answers and also serve as a reminder to stay on track for the rest of the meeting!
Building on this idea, if you need an icebreaker game for Zoom meetings, try ‘can you bring me…?’. Follow this up with ‘something red/fluffy/surprisingly large’ etc. This gets everyone involved and brings a more lighthearted tone to the meeting.
College Icebreaker Questions
College is a great opportunity to meet new people. With lots of orientation and registration events, you’ll meet people from different backgrounds. To find out whether they’re lifelong friend material, try some of these questions.
- Why did you choose your major?
- If you had to pick a different major, what would it be?
- Why did you pick this college? What was your second choice?
- Have you signed up to any societies or clubs?
- What surprised you most about this college?
- Where are you from?
- What’s your hometown known for?
- Are you an early bird or night owl?
- What’s your favorite childhood movie?
- What’s your favorite story about your family?
- What’s the last series you binge-watched?
- Which imaginary class do you wish this college offered?
- What surprising thing would I not guess about you?
- What do you want most from the college experience?
- Do you play any sports or instruments?
- What are you most looking forward to?
- Which album could you play on repeat?
- If you had to live in a fictional universe, which would you choose?
- If you could only eat one food for every meal, what would it be?
Dating Icebreaker Questions
Dating can be nerve-racking, but there don’t need to be any awkward silences if you have some icebreakers ready. Dating icebreakers give you the opportunity to find out more about your date. If you’re trying to gauge your compatibility with someone, drop a few of these into conversation.
- Are you a cat person or dog person?
- What was the last concert you went to?
- What would you do if you didn’t have to work tomorrow?
- Who are your role models?
- What do you love so much that you’d do it for free?
- What was the best vacation you ever had?
- What inspires you?
- What’s next on your bucket list?
- What was it about me that caught your interest?
- If you were to have a podcast, what would it be about?
- What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
- What’s your most controversial opinion?
- What would your TED Talk subject be?
- What was the last thing that made you really angry?
- Which fictional character would you date?
- What item do you buy more than most people?
- What’s your happiest childhood memory?
- What’s the strangest food combo you enjoy?
- What three adjectives would you use for yourself?
- What law would you pass or repeal if you could?
- Which Harry Potter house would you be in?
- What’s your most prized possession?
- What’s your favorite thing to cook?
- Which language do you wish you could speak?
- Which celebrity do you find most annoying?
- What’s the best conspiracy theory you’ve heard?
- What’s the worst joke you know?
- What’s a misconception people make about you?
These dating icebreaker questions are great, because they leave it up to the person to give as much personal information as they feel comfortable to.
Family Icebreaker Questions
There are some family members you might not see that often. Like distant cousins or great-aunts that you only see at weddings and funerals.
Talking with relatives, especially elderly family members, can teach us a lot. Here are some icebreaker questions that will help warm things up between even the most estranged relatives.
- What’s your favorite holiday tradition?
- What’s your earliest memory?
- Where did you go on vacation as a child?
- What’s your signature dish?
- What advice would you give the younger generation?
- What was your dream job when you were a kid?
- What was your favorite food when you were a child?
- If you could live anywhere, where would you choose?
- What was the worst fashion when you were younger?
- What’s the biggest risk you ever took?
- What was your favorite book when you were a child?
- What was your first job?
- Which movie did you first see at the cinema?
- What was your best subject at school?
- What would you name your autobiography?
- What’s your favorite outdoor activity?
- What opinion did you change throughout your life?
- Who’s the most inspiring person you’ve met?
- What’s your proudest achievement?
- What would you like to be known for?
Wrapping Up Our Conversation Starters List of Questions
These icebreaker questions are just a few of the many ways to strike up conversation with someone new.
Ultimately, a successful interaction comes down to confidence. Preparing yourself with a few of these icebreakers can help you to feel ready for whatever life throws at you.
If you’re stepping out into the unknown, knowledge is power. Arm yourself with great resources to make the best out of every opportunity by heading back to our blog for education advice, career guides, self-improvement hacks, and social impact stories. Thanks for reading!