The Best Icebreaker Interview Questions

As an interviewer, you can learn a lot about a candidate by asking icebreaker questions. But beyond commenting on the weather, you can actually use icebreakers to gauge the qualifications of the candidate even before you discuss their work experience. The Public Speaker shares her top 4 icebreaker interview questions.

Lisa B. Marshall
3-minute read
Episode #289

Interviewing a potential candidate for a job is a challenge. You have to find the right balance between learning about the person's credentials and experience, and learning about the actual person. 

As the interviewer, it's your job to make the candidate feel at ease with your first few questions. This is what icebreaker interview questions are for. You may want to skip the standard, "Tell me about yourself" or "Walk me through your resume" and choose something that can provide deeper insights about the candidate.  

See also: How to Ace the Interview Icebreaker


Typical opening icebreaker questions include: “Did you have any trouble finding us?” and “Isn’t the weather great/horrible today?”

Good candidates understand that their answers tell the interviewer about their interpersonal and communication skills. They know to keep the answers to these questions short and positive. The best candidates may even come prepared with an icebreaker question of their own that shows their knowledge of the industry or indicates they have the skills the interviewer is looking for.   

As an interviewer, here are my top 3 ice breaker questions:

Icebreaker Question #1: "What attracted you to this company/position?"

With this question, you’ll find out immediately what kind of research the candidate has done to prepare for the interview. The candidate should be able to competently discuss the industry, the reputation of your company within the industry, and any recent activity that has been made public. The candidate should be able to match their strengths and values with the needs of the company.  

Icebreaker Question #2: "What did you do to prepare for this interview?"

The candidate’s answer to this question will tell you a great deal about them.

Did they take the interview seriously? Did they do research and uncover relevant information that helped them describe their experiences in way that resonated with you, the interviewer?  Preparation for this interview can be a sign of how the candidate will approach work projects in the future.  


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.