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How to answer icebreaker questions

Written by: Charlotte Rogers
Published on: 10 Oct 2022

Ice breaking in interviews

Interviews can be a nerve-wracking experience for some people and anything employers can do to make candidates feel more comfortable, they usually try and do. Sometimes, conversation during an interview can feel forced and the best way to change this, is ask some questions that may not revolve around the job or questions that just aren’t that serious in comparison to others you may be asked. 

It’s likely that interviewers will want you to feel as comfortable as possible to make sure they can help you be successful. Afterall, they want you to succeed and be the candidate they are looking for. Sometimes an easy way to get the ball rolling during an interview is to ask some simple ice breaker questions. They might be used to get to know you a bit better or even just be used as a tool to help you feel more comfortable. So, what kind of questions should you expect, and can you prepare for them?

What’s an ice breaker question?

Ice breaker questions can be a good way to start a meeting or interview. They can help you get to know someone in a more informal approach and can really help you feel a bit more comfortable. Usually, starting the interview off in a more informal way and get you used to the situation. It is also a chance to help you get to know others as well as talking about yourself.

One of the biggest reasons people often feel nervous in an interview is because they hate talking about themselves and their achievements. So, if you are able to learn something about someone else as well, it can take away some of the pressure. Plus, a more informal approach can help relax the situation as well. 

Sometimes an interviewer may ask more informal ice breaker questions and other times, they may ask more in-depth questions that you should probably prepare for. Obviously, you won’t know what they’re going to ask before you get there, but you can prepare in advance. 

In what type of interviews should you expect ice breaker questions?

Ice breaker questions can be asked in any type of interview. If it’s a 1 on 1 conversation with the employer, if you have a panel of interviewees or they can work really well in a group interview environment. 

Helping you get to know the people around you and that you’ll be speaking to for the next hour or so, can help you come out of your shell a little. If you don’t have the issue of nerves in an interview, they can just be a nice way to get to know the other candidates and interesting for interviewers to see how you react with others. 

What kinds of questions should you expect?

Sometimes, questions can be as simple as:

  • How was your journey here, would it be a journey you’d be happy to make?
  • How did you come across this job?
  • Why did you decide to apply for this role?
  • How is your experience so far as a candidate for this role?

Other times, ice breaker questions can be a bit more in-depth and would be worth preparing for. Examples may include:

  • Have you ever been a customer of this company?
  • What did you enjoy about the customer journey for this company?
  • Tell me a bit about yourself
  • Could you start by running me through your CV?

As you can probably tell, the tone of ice breaker questions can be different. But usually, they are used to get the conversation rolling and direct how the rest of the interview will go. 

Interviewers want you to ask them questions as well

If they are more informal questions, you might find it easy to answer and start a conversation. You might want to ask them how their commute is or what they like about working for the company. 

Conversations are meant to be 2-way but when nerves get in the way, it can be easy to forget that you are meant to be learning about them as well. You want to be able to ask questions, retaliate to their conversation and have a good communication style with the interviewer. It can be an important way for them to know if you would be a good culture fit for the team as well as a good candidate for the role. 

So, how would you answer icebreaker questions?

It’s always good to have an example, so below we have given example answers to an informal and more formal ice breaker question. 

Q: Why did you decide to apply for this role?

A: I found your job advert online and thought that I could do the job and I would make a good fit for the role and company. I had been looking at roles within this company, as well as your competitors and feel like I have found a role that would help me develop. Once I took the time to read the job spec in a bit more detail, I found you were looking for a candidate with my skill set.  I really think I would enjoy working for this company, where I could learn and develop my career. 

Q: How was your journey here, would you want to commute?

A: It was good, thank you. I planned the journey a couple of days ago to see how it would go and if it would be something I’d want to do every day. I wanted to make sure I knew how long it would take. Even if there was a bit of traffic in the mornings, I would be happy to make the commute into work. 

Q: Have you ever been a customer of this company?

A: I have. I actually use your services quite a lot and think your customer service is great. I have noticed things in store and online that would be relevant to this job and would love to discuss them and learn about how I could help this company grow in my role. 

Obviously, questions will vary with each candidate and role you apply for. But it’s important to be honest. For example, if you are a mechanical engineer applying for a role with a popular supermarket and you don’t use their services, make sure you do your research. Overall, just have an idea of what you might say. Nothing has to be set in stone and feel like you’re reading from a script, but it’s better to be prepared. 

Ice breaker questions can be a great way of starting a conversation and letting go of some of the nerves, but it doesn’t work that way for everyone. We all have our own way of handling interviews, so try and stay calm, make the effort to have a 2-way conversation with the interviewer and all should be fine. You are there to discuss your skills so if you feel like you have messed up on an ice breaker question, chances are, it doesn’t really matter! Try to be ready for them but don’t depend on these answers for a successful interview.