It might sound cliché, but office icebreaker questions are the best way to get to know new colleagues, build relationships with coworkers, or integrate yourself into a group at a conference. We actually use them all the time when we meet new people, inside and outside of the office.
For example, how often do you find yourself asking about someone’s weekend, or talking about the weather? Generic small talk might not seem like much, but it can lead to and create other topics and discussions and helps you get to know one another during the conversation.
Why are Office Icebreaker Questions Important?
A lot of people claim that they ‘don’t like small talk’ because it’s boring or doesn’t hold much meaning to them, and in some cases this is true. Small talk is often only bearable for a short amount of time before it can become dull and the conversation needs to move on. However, it is almost always necessary in new social situations in order to get to know somebody and find out a bit about them, before you can go into a deeper and possibly more interesting conversation.
Getting to Know Colleagues
Asking people questions about themselves and getting them talking is proven to make you seem more likable. People love to talk about things that they are interested in or passionate about, so if you can start a conversation that is centered around them and their interests, people will generally warm to you and you will seem more likable. This is a great tactic to gain people’s trust and also build connections and relationships with important people or friends. During the last few months of largely working virtually, it’s been hard to get to know new colleagues, so using virtual icebreaker questions is also a great way to bridge the awkwardness of virtual calls.
Icebreaker questions are especially important in an office environment as workplace socializing can be a huge part of most people’s jobs. The majority of people feel that they are happier when they have good friends in their workplace, and so making connections and building relationships with colleagues could be beneficial outside of your working life.
In fact, many companies or groups will implement icebreaker games, workshops, or exercises all the time for team-building and getting to know others in a group. Games such as QuizBreaker are used by many employers to make team bonding easy and enjoyable, and as it’s based online, even colleagues who are working virtually or in other countries can get to know their teams.
Collaborative Work Environment
Another reason that office icebreaker questions and activities are important is that they encourage collaboration, which is an integral part of office life. A workforce will work more effectively when colleagues can collaborate well, which means that they need to get on, so it’s in an employer’s interest to facilitate this. It’s also been shown that employers are also more likely to employ sociable people, as they are more likely to get on well with a team and not provoke tension, so keeping your social skills up is important.
To Foster Relationships for New Hires
When new colleagues join a company, they are likely feeling a little nervous or scared about coming into a new environment. Asking them some office icebreaker questions gets them talking and hopefully asking questions back, which will make them feel more comfortable and at ease.
It also will help create a bond between you and them as they will see you as a friendly and warm person, and may come to you for more advice later on. The more connections you have within the workplace, the better you will look to others.
In Non-Workplace Settings
Icebreaker questions are also important when attending a conference or meeting with members of another company, as they’re a great way to get conversations started which leads to gaining connections that could be useful in the future. Conferences are always a great opportunity to network with entrepreneurs and business owners who may be useful connections in the future.
However, in order to get contact details from someone, you will most likely need to strike up a conversation beforehand and find out some information about them, as well as telling them about yourself, and this is where professional icebreaker questions come in.
Icebreaker Questions for Getting to Know New Employees
As we mentioned before, any workforce or team is more likely to work productively and efficiently if they get on well with each other and are able to collaborate effectively. Helping new employees to integrate them into a team by engaging with them can also help to increase their productivity levels, as well as helping them to feel more comfortable in a new environment. It can also help to build connections between colleagues if they find that they have things in common that they can relate to.
After you’ve found out the basics; name, role in the company, and so on; these office icebreaker questions can be used to find out more about people and engage in lighthearted, sometimes funny conversations.
What do you prefer, coffee or tea?
This question can not only spark an interesting conversation (some people have pretty strong views on how both should be prepared, especially in the UK!) but can come in useful if you want to make hot drinks for people in the office later on!
What’s your favorite food?
Another lighthearted question, food is always a popular topic of conversation – who wouldn’t want to spend their break thinking about the donuts and cakes they can pick up later after work? Or you could even take a walk with your new colleague to show them some great local cafés if they’re new to the area.
What’s your favorite TV show/movie?
You can tell a lot about someone from what they like to watch on TV or at the cinema, which helps you get to know someone better. Horror fans might have more outgoing, daring personalities, whereas comedy or rom-com lovers might be more sensitive and compassionate.
Do you have any pets?
Many of us love our pets, and people also love talking about their pets (if they have them). If you’re an animal lover yourself, there’s no better way to spend a conversation than comparing photos of your cute pets or talking about your favorite dog breeds.
What are your hobbies?
Most people have a few hobbies that they are really passionate about, and love to share with people. You might find out that your new coworker is a fantastic baker who can bring cakes into the office every week. Or maybe they’re an avid runner and can join you as a workout partner, building a connection between you.
Icebreaker Questions for Conferences
Going to conferences can be a daunting experience, especially if you’re the only member of your company or representing your business alone. Engaging in conversation with others can not only help you to feel more at ease and find other people to socialize with during breaks but can also have a beneficial effect from a business point of view.
Lots of people at conferences are like-minded and often from successful backgrounds, so can be good people to form connections with. These questions are a bit more business-related and can help to engage you in a deeper conversation in order to gain insight about the person (or people) you’re talking to.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
This question is especially effective when talking in a group, as it will spark an interesting conversation, or possibly debate. People can share their own experiences and discuss whether they agree or disagree with the advice that other people have shared.
What is your dream job?
The good thing about icebreaker questions is that they usually lead to further discussions. This is an interesting one as it will often lead to talking about how people have ended up in the job that they are in, and whether they are still pursuing their dream jobs.
What would the title of your autobiography be?
Again, this question can really help you to learn a lot about somebody’s personality, and the way they see themselves. It’s also a great way to get people thinking, as it’s probably not a question they’ve had to answer before.
Do you travel much?
Whether it’s for work or pleasure, people who enjoy traveling are more likely to be outgoing and have bubbly personalities. Finding out about people’s favorite locations might also give you some inspiration for a future trip!
Could you live without your laptop or smartphone for a week?
This question could be quite open to interpretation, and you can see how invested in a job somebody is from their answer. Some people may answer that they need it to answer emails and contact work colleagues, showing that they’re dedicated and motivated in their work. Others might talk more about missing social media or sending social messages to friends, so it’s easy to see what their priorities are.
Icebreaker Questions for Interviews
For employers, asking questions during interviews is important as it can help them to understand the candidate’s personality and work out whether they would be a good fit for the company. It’s important to know that they can build connections with others and get on well with other members of a group.
Asking questions at the beginning of an interview can also help put interviewees at ease, as often interviews can be stressful and nerve-wracking for candidates. Being more relaxed will ensure that they give more natural answers and are more likely to come across well.
These questions are perfect for employers to ask their interviewees to start a more casual conversation before going into more serious conversations during the interview.
Are you reading anything interesting at the moment?
Whether a candidate is reading fiction, informational books, or biographies, if they’re interested in reading it shows that they have an interest in learning new things and developing their knowledge, which is a great attribute to have in the workplace as well.
What was your greatest achievement in your last job?
While this question is slightly more work-related and less of a casual conversation starter, it encourages the candidate to focus on their achievements and positive qualities.
Do you know the area well?
It’s common for job seekers to be unfamiliar with their surrounding areas, as they may have recently moved for other reasons and are now trying to find a job. This question also easily leads into talking about their past city or where they grew up, which is an easy topic of conversation.
What three words describe you best?
This is another question that a lot of interviewers do tend to use within their interviews in order to get to know potential employees better. The candidate might already have a prepared answer from interview practice or previous experiences, or they may have to think on the spot, and it’s interesting to see what qualities people see in themselves.
What is your biggest fear?
Everyone has a fear of something, whether it seems strange or understandable to other people. You can certainly get some interesting answers from this one, and it’s especially useful if they can talk about a time that they have overcome fear as well, which shows resilience in them.
Talking about fears shows our vulnerability, and can make us seem more humble, which helps to build connections as people can relate to this quality.
Icebreaker Questions for Groups
Talking in big groups can be daunting, especially if you don’t know many or any of the people in the group. These questions can help you to start conversations within groups of people who don’t know each other and need a bit of motivation to get talking. They’re also good to use in public speaking situations if you want your audience to interact with each other.
What’s your first memory as a child?
Some of the answers to this question can be very interesting, as we all remember different things for different reasons, and our brains can even manipulate certain memories to make them seem more intense than they really were! This works well in groups as it will easily lead off into the topic of childhood and people can discover many things about others from talking about their past.
Is there a story behind your name?
Many people have interesting stories about their names; why their parents chose their first names, the origins of their last names, or even where interesting middle names have come from. When public speaking, if you want your audience to interact, this is a good icebreaker question to ask them to discuss as even those who already know each other may not know this.
If you could invite three people to a dinner party, living or dead, fictional or real, who would they be?
This is a popular icebreaker question to ask within groups of friends or even at a dinner party to get the conversation flowing. It gets people to think, and often interesting answers and reasons are given
Which book or film do you never get bored of?
This icebreaker question could potentially help you find something in common with others in the group if you have similar tastes in books or movies. It’s another good way to get your audience engaging with one another if you’re public speaking as well, or even just help you get some ideas for the next movie you watch!
Who do you look up to as a role model or a good influence in your life?
Again, this is a question that you can tell a lot about somebody from, as the people they look up to are people that they aspire to be. The qualities that they express as being good are ones that they want to work towards, so you can see what is important to them and learn about their personalities.
Virtual Icebreaker Questions
Especially at the moment, many of us are working from home and connecting with colleagues via online calls and virtual meetings. This can be a slightly awkward situation, as we’re more used to socializing in person, and online meetings have been less common up until now.
It’s useful to have some virtual icebreaker questions to hand for when your meetings start in order to kickstart a conversation and make people feel more at ease, which should help to avoid those awkward silences, which seem even worse over the phone!
How are you keeping busy when you’re not working from home?
Working virtually and cutting out the commuting time can often lead people to have more time at home. It’s interesting to find out what hobbies or activities colleagues might have taken up during their time in the house, and might even inspire you to do the same!
Do you miss working from the office? Why?
A lot of people have found both pros and cons to working from home, and will usually be more than happy to complain about the cons! We always see that the grass is greener on the other side, and might feel like we’d rather be back in an office than sat at our kitchen table taking calls. Being able to discuss these drawbacks can take a weight off our shoulders and help us feel connected with others who feel the same way.
What’s the best thing about working from home for you?
This virtual icebreaker question can help people to look at the positive side of their experience of working from home. Even if they can’t see any good things about it, someone else on the call might point something out; spending more time with family, having their own space, or even not having to wear a suit every day, might convince them to change their mindset.
What are your plans after you finish work today?
This is a casual, easy question to talk about, and might even take your mind off the task at hand or a boring workday for a minute or two.
What’s your home office space like?
Usually, in an office, everyone personalizes their desk space to fit their personality, and the same goes for home office spaces. With video technology, it can be fun to see other colleagues renovations of a spare room or even just making the most of the kitchen table.
Icebreaker Games for the Office
Here, we’ve put together a list of games that might be useful in an office environment in order to help employees get to know each other better. This can be a fun way to build teamwork skills and encourage colleagues to collaborate and work together, which will create a friendly atmosphere in the workplace. This video contains further information on a few of the games we mention here, and also gives some other innovative suggestions for fun office icebreaker games.
This icebreaker game only requires a Jenga set, and on each block, you must write an icebreaker question. Play the game as you would usually, but whoever pulls the block out has to answer the question that is written on the side of the block. This icebreaker game is good as it helps colleagues to learn about each other, without putting pressure on individuals to come up with and ask questions themselves.
In this game, no speaking is allowed between colleagues. Instead, they must only mime or find another way to explain themselves. The idea is for employees to line up in a specific order, which could be anything, such as; youngest to oldest, shortest to tallest, etc. The categories can get more complicated if people on the team know each other well, but it’s best to start with physical features with those who are unfamiliar with each other to make it easier.
This is a popular icebreaker game with groups of people who have never met each other. The team must split into two equal groups; one group which will remain seated the entire time, and one group which will move around the room. The seated group should take up a position at a desk and members of the other group will sit down opposite a member of the seated group. They’re then given 2 minutes to ask as many questions to each other and find out as much as they can about the other person before the moving group will each move one seat to their right to do the same with another person.
See it explained and carried out in this video.
Show and Tell
We will all remember this activity from school, but in the office, it is slightly different. Instead of an object, team members can choose to talk about a topic that interests them for 30 minutes. This can be done either in the office or on a virtual call and it helps employees improve their public speaking skills whilst others can learn more about them.
Lowering the Stick
This icebreaker game is a great one for improving team building and encouraging colleagues to work together, whilst also having a laugh. Everyone must hold their fingers out so that they are all level, and a stick is placed on them. The stick has to be lowered to the ground slowly and evenly so that it doesn’t fall or wobble.
You can see from this video that it’s a lot harder than it sounds!