A job interview can make anyone anxious, and not knowing what to expect can be nerve-wracking. In addition to sharpening your communication skills and getting creative, compiling a list of possible questions is a great way to prepare for the big day. Fortunately, the experts at Know Your Company have eliminated the guesswork and gotten down to business by compiling a list of the most popular and prevalent icebreaker questions.
Aimed to help interviewees and interviewers alike, this index of the 25 top get-to-know-you questions is guaranteed to productively (and painlessly) break the ice. According to Claire Lew, Know Your Company’s CEO, this list is based on four years’ worth of data and research, culminating in a selection of thought-provoking subjects and fail-proof conversation starters.
Perhaps the most eye-opening result of Know Your Company’s research is the questions’ informality. Surprisingly, only one of the prompts (“What was your first job?”) is career-related. The rest are much more personable, ranging from the sentimental (“Who had the most influence on you growing up?”) to the seemingly silly (“What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?”).
By keeping the feel of the meet-and-greet casual, both parties can sit back, relax, and let the conversation—and the job offers—flow.
Be prepared for that important interview or your next big meeting with these popular ice breaker questions from Know Your Company’s CEO, Claire Lew.
#1: What was your first job?
“By far, this question has prompted the most interesting responses for the companies we work with. Employees are always find it hilarious to learn that their boss’ first job was as a pool boy, or find it fascinating that a coworker’s first job was working in her mom’s doctor’s office. While it’s an unassuming question, the responses stand out.”
#2: Have you ever met anyone famous?
“This question is a fun one, as it taps into the people that your coworkers admire. Folks bond over a mutual love for Jude Law, or have a laugh when a manager shares her story about meeting LeBron James at a gas station.”
#3: What are you reading right now?
“People are always looking for something new to read — and so swapping book recommendations are a great way for people to know each other. Learning what others are reading also provides insights into coworkers’ interests. David Heinemeier Hansson, CTO of Basecamp, shared his answer to this question here.”
#4: If you could pick up a new skill in an instant what would it be?
“With this question, you’ll learn how your coworkers want to grow or what they aspire to do. For instance, you might learn that a coworker would love to be able to pick up Italian instantly, or that your boss has always wanted to get good at woodworking.”
#5: Who’s someone you really admire?
“Understanding who someone looks up to reveals a significant amount about a person’s influences, preferences, and outlook on life. This is a great question to ask to help get a sense of what and who a person values.”
#6: Seen any good movies lately you’d recommend?
“Perhaps you’ve asked this question before — but don’t overlook it. Movies are a great shared conversation topic. It never fails to be one that people like to answer and like to see other people’s answer to. Often times, people will end up going to see them movies that are recommended and talking about it over lunch, etc.”
#7: Got any favorite quotes?
“Personally, I’m a sucker for a good quote. I think it can provide a fascinating look into a person’s point-of-view. Asking about a person’s favorite quote is a great way to break the ice and get to know them better.”
#8: Been pleasantly surprised by anything lately?
“While this question may seem vague, the answers to this question are often a delight and intriguing to read. Someone might share an excellent customer service experience that surpassed their expectations, or share a funny story about them liking squash soup despite their initial reservations. This is especially a great question to ask to a group of folks who might know each other a little better already.”
#9: What was your favorite band 10 years ago?
“This question always elicits a chuckle or two. You’ll find out that you shared a embarrassing favorite band from years ago, and also find the generational difference between coworkers humorous as well.”
#10: What’s your earliest memory?
“This is typically something that’s not shared even between close friends — so asking about it creates a special connection between folks. Hearing about an intimate, early part of someone’s life says a lot about who they are.”
#11: Been anywhere recently for the first time?
“Sharing a new, novel experience is a wonderful way to create a sense of connection between people. You’ll learn about a new restaurant, a fun out-of-the-city getaway, or a never-heard-about bookstore you might find interesting.”