Icebreaker questions are a great way to learn more about new coworkers, build connections at networking events and start team meetings. You can ask different icebreaker questions based on the setting and what you want to learn about the person. Learning when to ask icebreakers for different audiences helps you gather useful information you can use in the future. In this article, we give some tips for effectively using icebreaker questions and provide a list of icebreakers for different occasions.
What is an icebreaker question?
Icebreaker questions encourage conversations to learn more about each other, foster a positive atmosphere, and build bonds between staff and management. They're usually simple questions that allow a person to show more of their personality and make the conversation fun. You can ask one icebreaker to start a conversation, or you could ask a series of questions for an easy, short chat.
Using icebreakers before a team meeting helps you set the tone for the rest of your meeting. You can craft icebreaker questions that set up the topic of the meeting to help team members prepare. Additionally, icebreaker questions are a great way to learn more about a new coworker or someone at a networking event. Asking icebreakers that relate more to education or experience allows you to build professional relationships with people with similar backgrounds.
What makes a good icebreaker question?
Here are some factors to consider in order to craft a good icebreaker question:
Think about what you want to achieve with your icebreaker, which can help you choose the right question. If you're facilitating a team meeting, you might want a question that transitions into the meeting topic. For networking events, you could ask questions that help you learn more about the person's job and experience in the industry. For new coworkers, you probably want to learn more about their personality and work history.
Audiences will respond differently to icebreakers. Consider your audience and setting to ensure you ask icebreakers that get the response you want. For team meetings, you can ask questions that relate to your project or company, but that same question won't have the same effect at a networking event. It's probably best to ask general questions when you meet new people and more targeted questions if you know a little more about the person.
Depending on the question, you could get a lengthy answer. For situations where you have time constraints, like meetings, you should ask questions that elicit simple one-word or one-sentence answers that allow you to stay within the meeting's time limit. When you meet a new coworker or you're at a networking event, you can ask in-depth questions that allow you to learn more about the individual.
If you've asked icebreaker questions in the past, you likely have an understanding of what worked. Think back to any questions you asked, the setting and the effectiveness. This can help you craft better questions that get the right results for your next meeting or event.
Tips for using icebreaker questions
Here are some tips for creating icebreaker q uestions:
- Look at other examples: You can search for plenty of icebreaker questions online that fit your needs. Search for specific topics, or look for a general list to get more ideas. If you need to, tailor the questions to your audience or setting.
- Listen to responses: The purpose of icebreakers is to learn more about the other person. Listen carefully to their response to help you continue the conversation and create a stronger bond. After they finish answering, you can ask a follow-up question, add a personal anecdote or let the conversation flow naturally into a new topic.
- Gauge reactions: Watch the person's facial expressions and body language. Animated gestures and smiles can mean that you posed a good icebreaker question that they were eager to answer. This means that your icebreaker was successful, and you can transition into different topics. Take note of the questions that worked so you can use them again in the future.
- Use the right tone: Make sure you pose your question in a light, casual tone. Icebreakers should create a positive atmosphere, so it's helpful to sound cheerful and sincere to make the person or group more at ease.
65 icebreaker questions
Icebreaker questions are not generic questions that you ask your team members. Instead, icebreaker questions should be appropriate for different audiences. You can divide these questions into several categories such as favourite questions, personality questions, in-depth questions, and general questions. What questions you use depends on the formality or informality of the situation.
- 'Favourite' questions
- Personality questions
- In-depth questions
- General questions
'Favourite' icebreaker questions help you get to know your team members better. They're simple questions that work in nearly any setting. Some 'favourite' icebreaker questions you can ask are:
- What's your favourite book?
- Who's your favourite singer?
- Do you have a favourite show on streaming services?
- Which season is your favourite?
- What is your favourite restaurant?
- Do you have a favourite sports team?
- What is your favourite phone app?
- What is your favourite lunch spot?
- What is your favourite place to eat?
- What is your favourite store?
- What was your favourite class in school?
- What is your favourite inspirational quote?
- What is your favourite ice cream flavour?
- What's your favourite animal?
- What's your favourite colour?
Personality questions are designed to get to know your team members as people, which can help you better work with them. Some personality questions are:
- What do you do on weekends?
- What did you want to be when you grow up?
- Do you play board games?
- What events are you looking forward to?
- Do you play or watch sports?
- When was the last time you solved a puzzle?
- What do you want to learn from life?
- Do you have any goals in life?
- What instrument would you want to learn?
- Do you volunteer anywhere?
- Would you rather have money or fame?
- If you had to give a lecture for an hour without preparation, what would you choose?
- Who was your role model growing up?
- Have you ever taken any personality tests?
- Choose three items that you would want to have if you were stranded on a desert island.
- If you could visit any country or area, where would you go?
- If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself at 13?
In-depth questions are usually related to career and education experience and interests. Some in-depth questions are:
- What inspirations do you use to perform your best at work?
- Are you more productive in the morning or at night?
- What does your ideal workplace look like?
- What did you study for your education?
- What do you do as your role in the company?
- Do you prefer to work in an office or at home?
- What was your first job?
- What was your last job?
- What did you major in?
- If you could get a degree or diploma in any field, what would it be?
- How long have you worked at your current job?
- What's your ideal job?
- What do you think of when I say [insert word]?
- If you had to man a ship, who would you choose in this room and why?
- What processes do you think we can improve and why?
General icebreaker questions, like personality icebreaker questions, are for getting to know your team members better. Some general icebreaker questions are:
- Do you have any hobbies?
- What was the last movie you saw?
- Do you play musical instruments?
- Do you enjoy cooking or baking or both?
- What's one of your guilty pleasures?
- What does your ideal meal look like?
- Do you prefer coffee or tea?
- What's the best restaurant in town?
- What song are you currently listening to on repeat?
- Would you ever go to space?
- Do you have any pets?
- What gives you motivation?
- What are you reading right now?
- Do you listen to any podcasts?
- What superpower would you choose?
- Would you rather travel to the future or back in time?
- If you could only eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
- If you could choose any animal, real or imaginary, for a pet, what would you choose?