10 Icebreaker Questions That Teams Will Actually Enjoy

Picture this: You’re on a Zoom call with like 17 new colleagues and the host says, “Let’s start with an icebreaker!”

Is your reaction:

🔲 “Yay!”

🔲 “NO.”

When doing intensive research for this blog, I performed a search that would yield the most reliable sentiments the population has for icebreakers: I Googled “work icebreaker memes” and concluded that people don’t love ’em.

However, when done right, icebreakers succeed at a few big things linked to team-building:

  • Helping individuals feel comfortable with speaking in front of new people
  • Getting the entire team interested in the people they’ll be working with
  • Letting them flex their individuality and personality

This article will not only equip you with some solid, memorable icebreaker questions, but it’ll also help onboarding leaders understand what can make or break a prompt. 🧊

mr. freeze "let's kick some ice!"
Warner Bros. via GIPHY

Bonus: Onboarding a virtual team? Read this guide on working with virtual teams!

The Do’s and Don’ts of Successful Icebreakers

To help guide me through the tundra that is team icebreakers, I consulted ClickUp’s queen of onboarding, Kathryn Reccia, on some basic do’s and don’ts of the craft.

mr. freeze "allow me to break the ice"
Warner Bros. via GIPHY

When deciding on the best icebreaker questions, DO:

❄️ Be specific…enough.

According to Kathryn, the real art of picking an effective icebreaker is finding the balance between broadness and specificity. “A great icebreaker is upbeat and targeted on a specific subject. The general topic should be well-known, but maybe the framing can invite something very unique to that person.”

❄️ Be fun.

Icebreakers should be seen as devices towards showing the real person behind the job title, and the easiest way to do that is to focus on fun. People have fun when they don’t feel pressure and can escape to a nice mental place for a moment, so keep that in mind!

❄️ Be personal.

Kathryn says: “A good ice breaker might prompt someone to share a personal memory or story, and in turn, we learn much more about that person!”

When deciding on an icebreaker, DON’T:

💧 Create a competition.

“You don’t want to ask, ‘What’s a fun fact?’ because then people are too worried about thinking of an interesting fact that they aren’t paying attention to the other people speaking.” says Kathryn, “It also just causes anxiety for the person answering!”

💧 Be exclusionary.

Questions like “What’s your favorite happy hour drink?” alienate those who don’t drink, phrases like “spirit animal” may be insensitive to some people’s cultures—just be thoughtful.

💧 Be mechanical.

If you’re the one leading the icebreaking sesh, it’s your job to help encourage the vibe of personability. Ask a follow-up question to people’s answers, or share a genuine reaction to their answer. Don’t make it seem like each answer is just a means to ending the session sooner.

mr. freeze "alright everyone, chill!"
Warner Bros. via GIPHY

Try These Icebreakers Out!

  1. “What was the first concert you went to?”
    • People don’t have to spend too much time thinking about their answer, plus it’s an opportunity to show a very personal memory without being schmaltzy.
  2. “This or that: Hulu or Netflix?”
    • This is an easy way to get people to mention a favorite original movie or program of theirs. “This or That” questions also invite the rebels to come out and pick a third option.
  3. “What’s your favorite Disney movie? Marvel movies count.”
    • Everyone has seen a Disney movie at one point in life, and they truly run the gamut in terms of genres that speak to different tastes. It also gives people a chance to show a sentimental and/or nerdy side in good company!
  4. “Would you rather: Work from home or work from the zoo?”
    • It’s a question that lets people share their working style and preferences for their environment, which is a valuable thing to know—and the zoo thing keeps it from being too boring.
  5. “What’s something on your bucket list?”
    • Answers to this prompt can tell us a lot about what that person values in life and what they consider fulfilling. It can also be as weird or as traditional as they want.
  6. “What was your favorite toy growing up?”
    • Nostalgia works, period. This is an easy way to find out who might be in their exact age group, too!
  7. “What embarrassing phase did you go through as a teenager?”
    • People like to hear about other people’s embarrassing stories, but for an icebreaker, we want to keep it quick and light-hearted. Some of the best work friendships come from bonding over something you’ve loved since you were a teenager.
  8. “Share an unpopular opinion.”
    • This is something everyone will want to listen to, period. This one gives people a chance to be as unabashedly bold (“Star Wars is overrated”) or perfectly safe (“Die Hard is a Christmas movie”) as they wish.
  9. “Summer or winter?”
    • You’re likely to breeze through this one quickly while letting people volunteer a reason for their vote, which can provide great insight into their vibe and interests.
  10. “What’s something you’ll happily splurge on?”
    • No matter what we can afford in terms of splurging, we all splurge from time to time, and what we choose to spend a bit more on tends to say a lot about what we care about most.
mr freeze saying cool party
Warner Bros. via GIPHY

Now Go Kick Some Ice.

Go forth and redefine what it means to host an icebreaking session. Be the leader who changes perceptions while uniting people. Uphold the spirit of community and collaboration.

Sorry for all of the Mr. Freeze gifs.

Mr. Freeze what killed the dinosaurs? the ice age!
Warner Bros. via GIPHY

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