10 icebreaker questions for work
Want to be a confident conversation starter? You need to break the ice…
Whether you’re starting a new job, attending a work conference, or a team building event, awkward silences can feel like they last for hours. Especially if you don’t know the people you’re with too well.
So you’re aren’t stuck for what to say, here are 10 icebreaker questions that will help get the conversation going:
What is an icebreaker question?
Icebreaker questions are questions (often quirky) that are asked at the start of meetings or events. Their purpose is to get people to open up, start talking to one another and feel comfortable talking in front of people they don’t know. Icebreaker questions can also aid team bonding as they may reveal common interests that you share with colleagues.
Common icebreaker questions and example answers
Name three things you’d take on a desert island with you?
This is a common icebreaker question, and it’s sometimes used as an interview question as well. As with most icebreaker questions, there are no right or wrong answers, but what you include on your list can provide an insight into your personality.
Right answer: Consider your answer carefully and think about how the person will perceive you. Going for a humorous answer may make you seem fun, but may not always be right for the situation. Especially if it’s a more serious setting. A considered answer could be:
‘I’d take things that are useful and long-lasting as you don’t know how long you’ll be on the island for. For example, a saw to cut down trees to make a shelter, matches to light fires and a hammock to have a good night’s sleep.’
Wrong answer: ‘My iPhone, my iPad…and maybe my ipod?’
What’s your favourite food?
The answer you give to this question can spark other conversations, such as ‘do you like cooking?’ Or, ‘have you tried X instead of Y with that dish?’ You could find yourself having a great conversation with someone, and it all started with a simple question about food.
Warning: avoid this question if you’re easily made hangry…
Right answer: There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, but maybe avoid mentioning any strange food combos you’re hooked on. A good answer could be:
‘I enjoy lots of different foods, but if I have to choose one, it will be X because of Y.’
Wrong answer: ‘Does butter count?’
If you could be an animal, what would it be?
This is another personality-based question, and frequently asked by interviewers. Describing what animal you align yourself with is thought by some to reflect your personal qualities. For example, a tiger is thought to be strong, independent and quick thinking. Whereas bees are seen as hardworking team players.
Right answer: Pick three of four of your personal qualities, mentally make a short list of animals that you think display these qualities, and decide on one. An example is:
‘I would be an elephant as they are empathetic, strong leaders and forward-thinking, just like me!’
Wrong answer: ‘Sloths seem to have it all worked out, don’t they?’
What’s the best holiday you’ve been on?
This is a great icebreaker question, and a relatively easy one for many of us to answer (as most people have a favourite holiday that they like to remember). The answer also provides an insight into people’s passion, hobbies or interests.
Right answer: Keep your answer brief. People don’t need to know the full holiday itinerary. Mention where you went and include one or two reasons why you enjoyed it. An example of a good answer is:
‘My favourite holiday was a week-long safari in Kenya. I got to see elephants and lions in the wild, and I went on a hot balloon ride at sunrise. It was magical.’
Wrong answer: ‘Ibiza. 2008. For reasons I probably shouldn’t go into…’
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
This icebreaker question can be a great conversation starter, as it’s not specific to any previous experiences. There are a few go-to answers you could choose here, including popular superpowers like flying, or super strength. But feel free to think a little more outside-the-box if you want to stand out.
Right answer: Even though this is a pretty lighthearted question, your answer will still be a reflection on you (and whoever else you ask). So definitely avoid anything too controversial, unless you’re prepared to back it up! A good response to the question would be:
‘The superhero power I would want is the ability to read people’s minds. That way I’d be able to know when people around me are stressed out or are struggling, and I’d be able to step in to help. Also, I’d be invincible on quiz shows’
Wrong answer: ‘Make annoying people disappear. Sorry, Barbara’
More icebreaker question examples
Tell me two truths and one lie about yourself?
Right answer: Pick interesting truths and keep the lie believable, as you want to make it difficult for the person who is guessing. Alternatively, make all three as unbelievable (and specific) as possible – that way you’ll be able to keep people guessing.
If you could pick three famous people to dinner, who would they be?
Right answer: Pick three people (alive or dead) that have inspired you either in your personal or professional life. Explain why you want to invite them to dinner. Keep in mind that some people may not know who these people are, so it could be useful to say their name and a short description of who they are. And try to stay away from cliches. It’s better to say someone individual, than to have a whole room full of William Shakespeares.
What’s your favourite movie?
Right answer: Wherever possible, be honest, but use your common sense. If your favourite movie is of a genre that some people may find offensive, it’s better to swap it for something that won’t.
What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Right answer: It’s probably better to stick to a song that you do actually know well, rather than trying to pick someone contemporary or ‘cool’ for the sake of it. Partly because you should always be yourself. But mostly because at some point you might actually be asked to sing it…
What’s the strangest gift you’ve ever received?
Right answer: Everyone has received a strange gift, whether it’s from granny on your birthday or a colleague for Secret Santa. In your answer, explain what the gift was and why it was weird. Also, maybe mention what you did with the gift after.
Still searching for your perfect position? View all current vacancies now.