The Best Ice Breaker Questions Of All Time

By Chris Kolmar - Dec. 1, 2020
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The word “ice breaker question” likely brings to mind the cheesy team-building games and questions we’ve all been subjected to. However, you’ll agree that it’s still important to break the ice at work.

Whether a new member just joined the team, or you need to warm up a remote meeting between co-workers – ice breaker questions are a way to launch the conversation.

They’re also a great way to learn more about the people you work with. After all, it’s difficult to work with team members you haven’t built rapport with.

Ice breaker questions don’t have to be cheesy, gimmicky questions either – a simple “how was your weekend?” is a perfect example.

In this article, we’ll cover what ice breaker questions are, when to use them, and provide you a list of the best ones out there.

What are Ice Breaker Questions

Ice breaker questions can be any kind of question that starts a conversation. They’re often thought-provoking, light-hearted, and encourage the receiver to talk about themselves.

We use ice breaker questions every day without realizing it.

When you run into your coworker and ask them about their day, you’ve just used one.

People love to talk about themselves. Just think of the best conversationalist you know. The key to their success isn’t that they talk endlessly, but that they know what to say to get others talking.

There are many benefits to using icebreakers in a professional setting.

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All successful work environments have a sense of community. Ice breaker questions open the door for co-workers to interact and relate better with each other.

When individuals learn what they have in common, they’re more able to listen, collaborate, and support each other.

They’re also beneficial in one-on-one scenarios. Hiring managers often employ an ice breaker question to loosen up interviewees.

When to Use Ice Breaker Questions

The types of ice breaker questions and strategies for using them can differ depending on the setting.

If you’re speaking one-on-one with a coworker, use the same icebreakers you would use casually outside of work. Examples include asking about their day or weekend.

There are three overarching types of team-based ice breakers:

  • Team building ice breakers. Team building exercises are common in many organizations.

    When participants are separated into groups, it’s great to warm the air with an ice breaker before starting the main activity.

    These questions are typically short and silly. Teammates don’t need to learn anything useful about each other, as long as a light-hearted environment is created.

    This type of ice breaker is especially beneficial for newer teams, teams that have experienced dysfunctionality, and teams that have incurred major leadership changes.

  • Sharing ice breakers. A sharing ice-breaker is any question that encourages participants to share a quick piece of information about themselves.

    These are the types of questions that “go around the table.” Rather than starting a long conversation, these questions typically have short, factoid answers.

    For teams that have recently formed or hired new people, this is a great way to kick off empathy and collaboration.

  • Interaction ice breakers. Interaction ice breaker questions are used to engage individual team members with each other.

    These are open-ended questions that are likely to lead to longer discussions between two participants and allow them to learn what they have in common.

    Example topics include interests, hobbies, values, and aspirations.

Ice breaker questions should also follow three rules in order to be effective:

  • Clear objective. Ice breakers can be fun and all, but it’s still a professional work environment

    There should be a clear goal that each question attempts to achieve. Consider the nature of the team and match it to the corresponding type of ice breaker.

    For example, a team that suffers from collaboration issues would benefit from a team-building ice breaker.

    A sharing ice breaker may better serve a team composed of many new members.

  • Simplicity. Ice breakers shouldn’t take hours or be super complex.

    The goal isn’t to stress out participants with difficult questions. The icebreaker is simply a way to foster communication and team cohesion.

  • Timing. Ice breakers are most useful at the beginning of a meeting or team activity.

    They’re also not always appropriate. Not all meetings should have a light-hearted mood.

    If you’re discussing layoffs or no raises, you need to empathize with your employees. Using an ice breaker would be tone-deaf and lead individuals to feel betrayed.

Sample Fun Ice Breaker Questions

Sharing Ice Breaker Questions

  1. What movie made you laugh the hardest?

  2. What are your top three favorite songs of all time?

  3. Who’s your favorite cartoon character?

  4. What was your favorite band ten years ago?

  5. What’s your favorite way to relax?

  6. What is a food or activity that you reluctantly tried and ended up loving?

  7. What’s your favorite time of the day?

  8. If you could have a superpower, what would you choose?

  9. What was your favorite country or place that you’ve visited?

  10. What’s your most treasured childhood movie?

  11. What type of cuisine is your favorite kind of food?

  12. What’s your favorite way to get in some exercise at home?

  13. If you could write a book, which genre would you choose? Thriller? Romance? Historical fiction?

  14. Describe yourself in one word.

  15. Who’s your favorite comedian?

  16. What was the worst haircut you’ve ever had?

  17. If you became a wrestler, what would your theme song and costume be?

  18. Have you ever been told you look like a celebrity, and if so, who was it?

  19. If you were famous, what would you most likely become famous for?

  20. If you had to eat one dish every day for the rest of your life, what would it be?

  21. If you could bring back any fashion trend, what would it be?

  22. What was the worst fashion style you ever thought was cool?

  23. What would the title of your autobiography be?

  24. What’s the most embarrassing thing you’ve worn in a formal setting?

  25. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

  26. What’s your best idea for an invention?

  27. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which would you choose?

  28. What was your favorite subject in high school?

  29. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

  30. Name one item that’s still on your bucket list.

  31. How often do you go to your favorite restaurant?

  32. If you could tour with any band, which would you choose?

  33. What’s your favorite way to get in some exercise at home?

  34. If you could add any person to Mount Rushmore, who would it be?

  35. What fictional family would you like to be a member of?

Interaction Ice Breaker Questions

  1. What’s the best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?

  2. What is a slogan that describes your values?

  3. Name one of your role models as a child.

  4. Is it ever okay to waste time?

  5. What movie have you watched over and over?

  6. If you could immediately gain a skill, what would it be?

  7. What was an experience you’ve had that greatly changed your values?

  8. What is the reason you get up in the morning?

  9. What would you do if you had all the money in the world?

  10. What’s your favorite tech item that you couldn’t live without?

  11. What’s your most annoying habit?

  12. Tell me about your greatest accomplishment.

  13. If you could take a year off from work, what would you do?

  14. Do you like or dislike camping, and why?

  15. Would you rather have a quiet dinner party with a few friends or one with 100 friends?

  16. Would you rather be funnier or smarter?

  17. What was your favorite family tradition?

  18. What’s your favorite period in history and why?

  19. What would you do if you know you couldn’t fail?

  20. If you had a million dollars to donate to any charity, which one would it be?

  21. What’s your favorite sport?

  22. What’s your favorite genre of music?

  23. What’s your favorite type of movie?

  24. What’s the best book you read in the last year?

  25. Where do you want to spend your retirement?

  26. If you could become president of the United States, would you?

  27. Describe your dream holiday if you had unlimited money.

  28. Describe your dream wedding if you had unlimited money.

  29. What is your ultimate dream job?

  30. Would you rather travel forward in time to meet your descendants or go back in time to meet your ancestors?

  31. What’s your favorite local restaurant?

  32. How would you quickly describe who you are?

  33. What is a part of your daily routine that you always look forward to?

  34. What talent would you most like to learn and develop?

  35. What do you want to achieve within the next ten years?

  36. When you were a child, what was your dream job?

  37. Where would you build your dream home?

Team Building Ice Breaker Questions

  1. What was the scariest dream that you ’ve ever had?

  2. Describe your in-laws with one word.

  3. Describe your fashion trend in one word.

  4. Would you rather have super strength or super speed?

  5. Would you rather stay always cold or always hot?

  6. Would you prefer to always be an hour late or an hour early?

  7. Would you rather burp or fart glitter?

  8. What ’s an interesting fact about your college or high school?

  9. Would you rather be able to run at 100 miles an hour or fly at 10 miles an hour?

  10. What ’s your favorite breakfast food or cereal?

  11. Would you rather have no legs or arms?

  12. Would you rather spend a year living in a submarine or living in space?

  13. If you could be in any game show, which would it be?

  14. Would you be too scared to go bungee jumping?

  15. What ’s your favorite dance move?

  16. What ’s your favorite amusement park ride that you ’ve been on?

  17. Do you prefer the pool or the beach?

  18. Would you rather be an astronaut or an Olympic gold winner?

  19. Do you prefer books or movies?

  20. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?

  21. Describe your pet with one word.

  22. Describe your car with one word.

  23. If you were blindfolded, how far do you think you could walk?

  24. If all superheroes fought against each other, who would win?

  25. If you could live underwater or in school, which would you pick?

  26. Do you prefer cats or dogs?

  27. What was the strangest non-scary dream that you ’ve ever had?

  28. What ’s your favorite animal, and why?

  29. Let ’s say the zombie apocalypse is here. Who are the three people you would want on your team?

  30. If aliens landed on the planet tomorrow and wanted you to come home with them, would you?

  31. Did you ever think clouds were made out of marshmallows?

  32. If you had a time machine, what year would you visit?

  33. What was the name of your imaginary friend, if you ever had one?

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Chris Kolmar

Author

Chris Kolmar

Chris Kolmar is a co-founder of Zippia and the editor-in-chief of the Zippia career advice blog. He has hired over 50 people in his career, been hired five times, and wants to help you land your next job. His research has been featured on the New York Times, Thrillist, VOX, The Atlantic, and a host of local news. More recently, he's been quoted on USA Today, BusinessInsider, and CNBC.

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