We’ve all been there: that uncomfortable moment when you’re meeting someone for the first time and can’t think of what to say. Usually, it’s not a big deal. But, in a job interview — when making a strong impression is paramount — an awkward introduction is definitely something you’ll want to avoid. That's where icebreaker questions can help ease the start of any conversation.
So, to address this, let’s first break down why we sometimes get a bit tongue-tied when meeting someone new…
The standard line most people greet each other with is, ‘How are you?’ Often, we simply respond with ‘Good, thanks. And you?’ Here’s the issue: That’s a conversational dead-end that leaves us grappling with what to say next.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! If you come prepared with some good icebreaker questions, you can lead off with some conversational ‘fuel’ that will help you ease into the interaction more seamlessly.
Below, we’ll be exploring different icebreaker question categories, along with specific examples that you can use in job interviews, networking events, and social situations!
What Are Icebreaker Questions?
The term ‘icebreaker’ refers to that semi-awkward moment described above: when you’re not sure what to say to start the conversation. That’s the ‘ice.’ So, icebreaker questions are prompts designed to quickly and easily break through the ice and get the conversation flowing naturally.
Now, it should be noted that we’ll be focusing on interview icebreaker questions in this article. There are many fun get-to-know-you questions that wouldn’t be applicable/appropriate for a candidate to ask at the onset of a job interview. For example, quirky questions like, ‘If you were a vegetable, what type would you be?’ and casual questions like ‘Who is your favorite superhero?’ wouldn’t fit in this context.
That being said, certain (more neutral) topics are safe go-to’s, even in formal/professional scenarios like job interviews. And on that note, let’s review some fun icebreaker questions that you can use to start your interview off on a positive note!
17 Fun Interview Icebreaker Questions
In this section, we’ll divide the icebreaker questions into topical categories, which will include examples to demonstrate how you can incorporate the question into your opening lines. You’ll have some flexibility regarding the exact wording, so feel free to come up with your own variations!
Location Icebreaker Questions
First up, we have location questions, which are essentially various ways to ask someone where they’re from. These can be particularly relevant if you recently relocated or are looking for a job in another state, as that will organically follow as a talking point.
- Are you from [City/Town] originally?
- Did you grow up here in [City/Town]?
- Did you grow up in this area?
- Are you a [City/Town] native?
“Thanks so much for meeting with me today. It’s great to meet you. Are you from [City] originally?”
“I’m great, thanks for asking. It’s a pleasure to meet you. Did you grow up here in [City]?”
Weekend Icebreaker Questions
Next up, we have weekend questions, which are a solid option on Mondays and Fridays because the weekend will either be fresh in their mind or right around the corner. Sharing your weekend plans/activities is a great way to showcase your personality, which helps build rapport. You may even discover that you have some interests/hobbies in common with the interviewer!
- Did you have a nice weekend?
- Did you do anything fun over the weekend?
- Do you have any plans for this weekend?
- Are you looking forward to anything this weekend?
“Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with me today – did you have a nice weekend?”
“I’m great, thanks – Happy Friday! Do you have any plans for this weekend?”
Sports Icebreaker Questions
The beauty of sports, from a conversational standpoint, is that there’s always something new going on. And, if you find that you and your interviewer root for the same team, that’ll certainly be a bonus point! So, if you’re a sports fan, consider referencing a recent game.
- Did you watch the [Team] game last night?
- Have you been following [Team] lately?
- Are you a [Team] fan?
“I’m great, thanks – especially after seeing that Dodgers win last night! Did you see the game?”
“I’m good, thanks – although I’m a bit bummed after seeing the Lakers lose so badly! Are you a Lakers fan?”
Media Icebreaker Questions
Reading a good book? Saw a fascinating documentary recently? These are fantastic conversation-starters to get the ball rolling. And, if the piece was intellectually stimulating, that can be a fast-track to bypass small talk and delve into an interesting discussion.
- Have you read [Book]?
- Have you seen [Movie]?
- Have you heard about [Article Topic]?
“Thanks so much for meeting with me this afternoon. Last night, I finally finished [TV series], have you seen it?”
“On the train over here, I was just reading a fascinating article about [Article Topic], have you heard about that?”
Anticipatory Icebreaker Questions
Last but not least, we have anticipatory questions, which are a bit bolder than the more casual topics above. With these, the goal is to foresee a relevant question the interviewer will ask you and call attention to it up front. This can be useful if there are aspects of your resume you’d like to clarify (or to preemptively address any doubts you think the interviewer might have).
- I suppose you’re wondering…
- I imagine you’d like to hear about…
- You’re probably curious about…
“I suppose you’re wondering why I think I’d be a great fit for this role.”
“You’re probably curious why I decided to make the switch from [Previous Field] to [Role You’re Applying For].”
More Interview Preparation Tips
At its core, the underlying theme of this article is preparedness. In a job interview, every detail counts — and you can never be too prepared. And, if you have an upcoming job interview, you’ve come to the right place! For more interview tips and insights, be sure to check out the following articles:
- What To Bring To A Job Interview
- How Top Performers Prepare For Job Interviews
- How To Answer “What Is Your Greatest Weakness”
- How to Answer “Why Are You The Best Person For This Job”