Workplace icebreakers: 50 questions to get to know your team
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published 22 June 2022
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Social introductions are difficult, and this is especially the case in the workplace. Not only are you in close proximity to everyone you work with throughout the day, getting along with one another is vital or else you run the risk of losing team cohesion and valuable productivity. This is why it's helpful to make full use of icebreakers, often in the form of games. In this article, we explain what workplace icebreakers are, why they're useful for encouraging productivity and present a list of icebreakers that you may find useful, divided into categories.
What are workplace icebreakers?
Workplace icebreakers, more commonly known as icebreakers, are activities or questions used by management staff to get staff members to know each other better. These are quick and easy ways to prevent members of staff from feeling like they're working with strangers and provide a quick and easy route to casual conversation. Some icebreakers are fairly formal, while others are more relaxed and fun. It's important for managers to judge the mood of their team, as some members of staff may react badly to certain kinds of icebreakers and just want to get to work instead.
Questions to help your team break the ice
Below are some of the most common questions you might use to break the ice. These are specifically designed to break down the barriers between employees and get them interacting in a much more fluid and open manner. Not all of them can apply to every kind of working environment, so as a manager or team leader, you may select what's most relevant and be sensitive to your team members' specific needs.
Some of the most common questions used to break the ice are as follows, with broad categories of the sorts of situations in which you might use them:
Virtual icebreaker questions
Virtual workplaces make it hard to form social connections, but you can still use icebreakers to simplify this process. Use the following questions in virtual situations to encourage staff members to be more friendly and relaxed, with the goal of creating a much more harmonised working environment:
Do you love working from home, or would you rather be in the office? Is there a balance of both that you would like best?
What does your morning routine look like when working from home?
What's your number one tip for combating distractions when working from home?
If you could write a book, what genre would you write it in? Mystery? Thriller? Romance? Historical fiction? Non-fiction?
If you could learn one new professional skill, what would it be? What about a personal skill?
How many cups of coffee, tea, or any other beverage of choice do you have each morning?
What does your typical working from home uniform look like?
What's the last TV show or movie you watched that you really enjoyed?
Where do you work most frequently in your home? Your office? Your kitchen table? The backyard? Your bed?
What's the hardest part about working virtually for you? What's the easiest?
Non-work related icebreakers
In-person icebreakers are much simpler to do, as there isn't the imagined social barrier of a screen in the way. These are a range of questions you can ask that are very general and open-ended, intended to prompt conversations amongst employees while offering a level of insight into their personalities. Below are some general icebreakers designed to introduce the more social side of staff:
If you were independently wealthy and weren't working, what would you do with your time?
What's your absolute dream job?
What would your dream house be like?
They say time is money, but would you rather have unlimited time or unlimited money?
Who is your favourite character in all of film and TV? Would you trade places with them?
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
What's a talent you have that nobody would typically expect of you?
If you owned a boat, what would you call it and why?
What's your favourite season of the year?
What's your favourite food, and what's your least favourite food?
'If you could' questions
Questions starting with 'If you could' typically focus on hypothetical scenarios and help your team understand what a colleague aspires towards and what drives them. Furthermore, these questions can be quite divisive while being innocent, which spurs on a debate within the workplace and encourages a fun conversation between everyone present. The following are some guide questions, but changing them and creating your own, even getting those present to create their own, may be a fun exercise also:
If you could choose two famous people to have dinner with, who would they be?
If you could have the power of teleportation right now, where would you go and why?
If you could be immortal, what age would you choose to stop ageing at and why?
If you could magically become fluent in any language, what would it be?
If you could hang out with any cartoon character, who would you choose and why?
If you could commit any crime and get away with it, what would you choose and why?
If you could instantly become an expert in something, what would it be?
If you could guarantee one thing in life besides money, what would it be?
If you could live in any country, in any period throughout human history, where and when would you live?
If you could give a one-hour lecture on a topic of your choice, what would it be and why?
'Would you rather' questions
Similar to 'If you could' questions, 'Would you rather' questions create groups of two or more and encourage a lively conversation while posing less slightly open-ended questions. Be careful with the questions you choose. By choosing questions that are too serious, employees who disagree with the consensus can find themselves cast out from the rest of the group and feel ostracised. The following questions avoid overtly political topics and can encourage open and enjoyable conversation that lets everyone get to know each other:
Would you rather be slightly late or extremely early to all of your appointments?
Would you rather you had very few fans that adored your work or millions that were mostly indifferent to your work?
Would you rather live where it only snows or the temperature never falls below 40 degrees?
Would you rather have all the time in the world or all the money in the world?
Would you rather know exactly how you were going to die or exactly when you were going to die?
Would you rather give up your smartphone or your computer?
Would you rather have unlimited access to the biggest library on Earth for a week or an average library for life?
Would you rather live in the ocean or on the moon?
Would you rather lose all of your money and assets or lose all of your memories, pictures and diaries?
Would you rather travel back in time to meet your ancestors or to the future to meet your descendants?
Ice breakers for interviews
Group job interviews are becoming a more and more common phenomenon. When prospective hires work together, you want them to get the most out of the experience and show their true ability together. The following ice breakers are fast ways of getting people comfortable with one another and working effectively:
Why did you apply for this job?
What's one thing you're looking forward to doing in the role?
Do you live close to the company, and how did you get here?
Five years ago, where did you think you'd be today?
What do you think about the company's products? How do you think they could be improved?
What job were you doing before you decided to apply for this job, and why did you make the change?
What do you think your biggest struggles are in this job?
In all honesty, what is your dream job, and why do you want that to be your career?
What did you study in the past, and why did that lead you to apply for the vacancy that got you here today?
What's the funniest thing that ever happened to you in any of your previous workplaces?
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