Meeting or activity facilitators normally include icebreaker questions in their programs to introduce agendas. These questions aim to let participants have fun, connect with others, and gain confidence during the actual task (Hill, 2021). In “The Taming of the Shrew,” literary icon William Shakespear used the term “break the ice” to describe how a few good social behaviors can put a smile on even the most unaccommodating person (Bell, n.d.).
While they can indeed break barriers among people who have just met or are already acquainted, icebreaker questions can be a bad idea for those who usually get asked the boring or too personal ones (Nair, 2020). This article has listed down every question one may need to engage task participants right from the start, be it for work, students, adults, and anywhere else.
Muse career coach Ravi Raman points out how crucial questions are to an event as low engagement can waste time and lead to bad results (Borsellino, n.d.). To break the ice properly, facilitators must:
Determine what needs to be accomplished first. Do these questions target to make people laugh or impress others with their ideas?
Think of the audience. Questions must be significant to the people watching the activity (Bell, n.d.).
Consider certain situations. Consider if participants already know each other, where they come from, if they just met each other for the first time, and so on.
Let participants take their time. Make sure they have the time to think about their answers well and share them. However, giving them too much time can affect the actual activity. Giving them 5 to 20 minutes is enough for them to feel at ease to talk about more important topics (Edwards, n.d.).
Consider each participant’s comfort level. Do not ask questions about religion, sexuality, or ability levels. If someone opts not to answer, move on to the next person. It is also safer to ask two sets of questions so that participants can choose which one to answer.
Find out what works. Through trial and error, facilitators and participants will eventually find out what types of questions work and do not.
Enjoy. These questions are meant to help people loosen up. Do not pressure people too much when they answer or decline to answer.
Icebreaker Questions for Work
When an employee’s day is started with a round of icebreaker questions for work, he or she gets the chance to connect with others on a personal level (Museum Hack, 2021). Let employees relax before they begin their work or join a meeting with the following questions.
How would you spend your time if you do not need to work anymore?
What career would you want to have when you grow up?
What is your most favorite subject?
What is your least favorite subject?
What do you look forward to this year?
If you could stay in one fictional universe, which one would you pick and why?
What cool feature would you add to your future house?
Icebreaker Questions for College Students
What amazed you when your first arrived on campus?
What local places in your hometown would you recommend to visitors?
What is your best study advice?
What strangest habit do you have?
What is the last TV show that you binge-watched?
Aside from graduating, what is your other goal in college?
Who is the best teacher for you and why?
If you were to impress your five-year-old self, what would you tell him or her?
If you were to choose another major, what would it be and why?
What do you miss most about your hometown?
Icebreaker Questions for Job Applicants
Icebreaker questions for job applicants can serve as a nice segue into the main interview process. These questions will lessen a job applicant’s nervousness and reveal important information about him or her (Sirisena, n.d.).
What inspires you to look for a new opportunity?
What do you look for in a company?
What do you look for in a colleague?
If we switch roles, what would you look for in a job applicant?
What do you do in your spare time?
Have you been our customer before? How was your experience?
How did you choose what degree to take?
What’s one thing you might have done differently in your career?
What is the latest thing you learned?
What are you most proud of in your career so far?
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What US Employers Look for in a Job Applicant
What US Employers Look for in a Job Applicant Some work experience: 91
Some work experience
What US Employers Look for in a Job Applicant Some relevant work experience: 65
Some relevant work experience
What US Employers Look for in a Job Applicant Work experience of any type: 25
Work experience of any type
What US Employers Look for in a Job Applicant Work experience is not a significant factor: 5
Work experience is not a significant factor
Source: Legaljobs, 2021
Icebreaker Questions for Teens
As part of human nature, people like those who are like them because they want to be liked and there is less chance of getting rejected when they share something in common. The mission of icebreaker questions for teens is to guide them in finding a common ground with each other (Lindsay Ann Learning, n.d.).
What do you want the older generations to know about teenagers right now?
What is your favorite moment with your best friend?
Which would you explore: outer space or ocean?
What dessert would you choose to eat for the rest of your life? Why?
What name would you rather have? Why?
You were just given a million dollars. What would you buy first?
If you could live someone else’s life, who would it be and why?
Which superhero do you wish was real?
What is your best idea for new technology?
You can be invisible for one day, what would you do?
Funny Icebreaker Questions
Laughter lets warm interaction emerge fast among people (Heathfield, 2021). Eliciting laughter and imaginative answers from participants make icebreaker questions funny.
If you were to choose a fictional family to be with, who would they be and why?
If you were to be reincarnated as an animal, what would it be and why?
Which celebrity do most people say you look like?
You can only eat one food throughout your lifetime, what is it and why?
If you were to get stranded on an island, would you be rather alone or with your enemy?
What superhero power would you like to have and why?
Would you go with aliens if they arrive on Earth? Why?
What was the worst fashion style you have tried?
If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
If you were famous, what would you be famous for?
Icebreaker Questions to Ask Customers
To achieve long-term success, businesses need to build harmonious professional relationships with the people they are offering their services and products to. Get noticed with the following icebreaker questions to ask customers (Moltz, 2015):
What was your favorite part about growing up in your hometown?
What are you most excited about this coming season?
What business books have you read recently?
Do you have any vacation coming up soon?
What app can’t you live without?
What would you name your yacht?
Who do you think is your celebrity twin?
What talent do you wish you had?
What one thing about you would get people surprised to know about?
Who was your childhood hero?
What Americans Think of Customer Service
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Icebreaker Questions for Fitness Classes
Icebreaker questions for fitness classes aim to introduce new gym members and make an intense day of workout less exhausting. These questions can be either serious, funny, or thought-provoking (Torres, 2019).
When is your cheat day?
What is your favorite cheat meal?
What is your favorite item to order at a fast-food chain?
Which would you choose: crunchy or smooth peanut butter?
Which would you choose: squat day or deadlift day?
What is your most favorite workout routine?
What is your least favorite workout routine?
What one CrossFit movement do you wish you would magically master?
Which is better: flying or breathing underwater?
If you were to create a slogan for yourself, what would it be?
What Makes Icebreaker Questions Effective
Icebreaker questions do not require extensive planning. They also do not necessarily have to be related to the planned activity. They can just foster happy thoughts or feelings and friendship (Heathfield, 2021).
Icebreaker questions unleash some elements of one’s personality and bring memorable answers, something participants can share information, collaborate, and bond over with (Hill, 2021). When properly carried out, these questions can totally eliminate anxiety among participants. Once participants get used to the practice, they will expect them and get excited about them whenever there is an activity (Museum Hack, 2021).