This article has been approved by an Indeed Career Coach
Making conversation with strangers isn’t easy, whether you’re attending a networking event or kicking off a meeting with new people. While social interaction doesn’t come naturally to everyone, there are ways to make it easier. In this article, we offer 30 icebreaker questions to encourage people to get to know one another better while networking, in meetings or when meeting new coworkers.
What are icebreaker questions?
Icebreaker questions are thought-provoking questions you can use to encourage people to talk and get to know them better. These questions can be used in most situations where fun, light-hearted conversation is needed to lighten the mood and encourage real bonding.
Icebreaker questions list
Here is a list of icebreaker questions to use in social situations:
“What would you be?” questions
A great way to break the ice is by activating people’s imagination using familiar topics. The following quick, easy questions allow you to engage individuals you don’t know very well.
- If you could be cast in a movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and which character would you want to play?
- If you could meet any historical figure, either living or deceased, who would you choose and why?
- If you could choose only one place to go on vacation for the rest of your life, where would it be and why?
- If you were an ice cream flavor, which would you be and why?
- If you could pick up a certain skill instantly, what would it be?
- If you had a talk show, who would your first three guests be?
- If you could instantly be an expert in a subject, what would it be?
- If you could live in any decade, which would you choose?
“What would you be” questions can be adapted in countless ways to tap into people’s personalities and get them talking: What vegetable would you be and why? What animal would you be? What kind of cereal would you be? Try a few of your own versions, or customize them to fit the next networking event you’re attending and see what happens.
Read more: Become a Networking Expert in 7 Steps
“What's your favorite...?" questions
Another great way to break the ice with strangers is to encourage them to tell a personal, positive story. See if one of the below appeals to you:
- What’s your favorite personal possession and why?
- What was your favorite class in school?
- What’s your favorite animal?
- Do you have a personal hero?
- What’s your favorite book?
- What’s the most memorable vacation you’ve ever taken?
- What is your favorite movie?
- Who was your favorite teacher when you were young? Why?
- What’s your favorite holiday?
- What’s your favorite section in a bookstore or library?
- What’s your favorite thing you’ve bought this year?
- What’s your favorite app on your phone?
- What’s your favorite meal to cook?
The key to success with “Play favorites” questions is to avoid negative experiences and elicit either fond memories or future aspirational goals.
Personal brand questions
Asking people what they value about themselves or asking them to think in metaphors can quickly unlock powerful insights.
- Which season fits your personality best—spring, summer, fall, or winter—and why?
- What would the title of your autobiography be?
- If you were to choose a well-known axiom or slogan for your life, what would it be? (Bonus points if you can adapt this question for the meeting, topic, client brand, or event you’re attending.)
- What breed of dog would you be?
- If you were a color, which would you be and why?
- What aspect of your personality adds the most value to the world?
- What’s a skill you learned when you were young that you still use today?
- What superpower would you like to have?
- How would your friends describe you?
By learning the traits that people assign to themselves based on these comparisons, you can learn what they aspire to and want to be known for.
Asking people about their hobbies can help you understand what they enjoy doing in their free time, and provide the opportunity for people to bond over shared interests.
- What are you currently reading?
- Have you ever done something on your “bucket list”?
- If you had to teach a class on one thing what would it be?
- What’s your favorite thing to do outside?
- Do you collect anything?
- What’s your favorite indoor activity?
- Do you have any hidden talents?
If you had 25 hours in a day, what would you do with the extra hour?
People are more likely to come out of their shell when they’re talking about something they are passionate and interested in. Understanding someone’s interests can help develop your relationship with them.
Asking playful, light-hearted questions can be a way to get people loosened up and talkative.
- In the zombie apocalypse, what role would you play? (Zombie slayer, strategist, caretaker, etc.)
- What’s your most-used emoji?
- What’s your go-to karaoke song?
- What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
- Would you rather travel back in time to meet your ancestors, or to the future to meet your descendants?
- If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?
- How would you spend 1 million dollars?
Who’s your celebrity look alike?
It’s recommended to ask these questions in an informal environment, where people are comfortable showing a more playful side of themselves.
Asking these questions will take the conversation with another individual a bit further than the average icebreaker. They provide great opportunities to learn more about another person’s current professional lives, their talents and even the challenges they’re experiencing.
- What talent or potential do you have that is not fully realized at your current job?
- What single activity at work, if you could do it every day, would most increase your appreciation of and success at your current job?
- What’s something you believed earlier in your career but think about differently now?
- Is there a certain person that has inspired your work?
- What’s your proudest accomplishment?
- What’s the most valuable piece of career advice you’ve been given?
- If you could be guaranteed one thing in life (besides money) what would it be?
- What would you like to be known/remembered for?
- Who had the most influence on you growing up?
Use these questions to initiate an insightful dialogue at a networking event or during a one-on-one informational interview with someone you don’t know very well but want to thoughtfully engage.