#12: What’s your favorite family tradition?
“Cooking Korean dumplings together around the holidays is one of mine. When you ask this question, you get an inside look into your coworkers family’s heritage and the things that bring their family together.”
#13: Who had the most influence on you growing up?
“A mother, a sports hero, a grandparent, an elementary school teacher… This question is touching to hear the answer to. You’ll gain a sense of respect about who has shaped your coworkers.”
#14: What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
“Maybe it was a goldfish as a pet or a pair of Air Jordans. This is another great question that fosters a sense of nostalgia and provides insights into people’s interests of the past and what they valued when they were younger.”
#15: What’s something you want to do in the next year that you’ve never done before?
“I love asking this question instead of the stale, ‘Do you have any goals this year?' Rather, this is a great aspirational question that exposes people’s dreams and hopes they’d love to pursue.”
#16: Seen anything lately that made you smile?
“The answers from this question are often unexpectedly lovely. You’ll find yourself nodding your head as a coworker talks about his kids, or about a beautiful tree she saw on her walk recently.”
#17: What’s your favorite place you’ve ever visited?
“Responses to this are varied and fun — you’ll find that some folks have the same ‘favorite place' in Spain that they’ve visited, or a place that happens to be just 20 minutes from where you live.”
#18: Have you had your 15 minutes of fame yet?
“This is a cheeky question that turns up a variety of answers and interpretations. You might be impressed about how a coworker was in the newspaper one time or get a good laugh about how they were on the evening news.”
#19: What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
“I’m a big fan of this question, as you’re essentially asking a person about what wisdom they personally find most valuable. The best advice I’ve ever received, myself? ‘Trust yourself.'”
#20: How do you like your eggs?
“Our customers who ask this question are always shocked by how popular the answers to it are. They discover that colleagues are immensely passionate about scrambled eggs or are sunny-side-up diehards.”
#21: Do you have a favorite charity you wish more people knew about?
“This is a fantastic question to ask. One company I know took it as a way to make a small donation to each charity mentioned.”
#22: Got any phobias you’d like to break?
“Spiders, heights, the ocean… Sharing fears is always a great way to feel closer to someone.”
#23: Have you returned anything you’ve purchased recently? Why?
“Ask this question and you’ll unearth some interesting observations on why people buy things — and what they find unsatisfactory.”
#24: Do you collect anything?
“Skip the boring question, “What are your hobbies?” and ask this instead. You might find that someone is unexpectedly avid butterfly collector (my uncle does this), or enjoys finding a new postcard every time she travels (my mom does this). Regardless, it’s a more unique way to learn about a person’s interest.”
#25: What’s your favorite breakfast cereal?
“This question continually (and surprisingly) blows people away with the response when they ask it. One customer of ours had such an enthusiastic response on this from her staff, she created a Cereal Day for her team.
I’ve used these questions to get to know a new employee, kick-off group meetings for boards I sit on, and even in one-on-one coffee meetings when I’m meeting someone for the first time. Give ’em a shot. Think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the results.”