When you start a new job, it’s a whirlwind of introductions, training, and figuring everything out.
You likely have a whole new team of people you need to get to know.
Getting to know your coworkers can be one of the most daunting parts of a new position — even for extroverts that thrive on small talk.
But connecting with your teammates doesn’t have to be an awkward combination of work talk and discussing the weather for the third day in a row.
Instead, let us introduce you to the power of the get-to-know-you question. These handy little questions will make getting to know your coworkers so much easier.
Get-to-know-you questions are a way to understand the people around you and build rapport. In a work context, that rapport contributes to better communication and collaboration with your coworkers, which are key skills for any job.
These simple conversation starters pack quite a punch.
You can ask get-to-know-you questions in casual chats with anyone new. They might be particularly helpful if your workplace has a buddy system for new hires, as the company Buffer does.
In the example below, you’ll see an outline of how three different Buffer buddies make the new hire — the “bootcamper” — adjust to their new job through informal chats. Each “buddy” is responsible for helping the new hire understand a different facet of working at Buffer.
Get-to-know-you questions are helpful whether you’re the new hire or an experienced trainer. Good questions don’t have to be work-related, but they should stay away from controversial or overly personal topics.
Get-to-know-you questions may sound like a skill for parties and social events, but they’re highly useful at work too.
For instance, 78% of employees say communication should be a higher priority for their company. Get-to-know-you questions can break the ice between employees and put everyone at ease, allowing for better communication, morale, and productivity.
Having a good relationship with your coworkers can make your entire job easier. As a manager, icebreaker questions can help you learn important, useful, or fun information about your team in a low-pressure environment.
This trend toward a more personable management style has led to an all-time high in employee engagement, with 35% of workers considered highly engaged and enthusiastic in 2019.
Asking get-to-know-you questions can be nerve-wracking enough, so we’ve made it easy on you. We’ve compiled a list of interesting questions you can use for reference or inspiration when getting to know your coworkers.
Save this list of conversation starters or jot a few down on a sticky note to keep by your desk.
What was your first job?
What was your favorite job?
What is your top career accomplishment?
What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you doing it?
How did you get into your current field or position?
Do you have any side hustles?
What’s the most interesting job you’ve ever had?
What’s the weirdest thing a boss or coworker has ever done?
What’s the weirdest thing a customer has ever done?
Do you have a five-year plan? What is it?
What makes a good boss?
What makes a good coworker?
What piece of advice would you give to yourself at the beginning of your career?
What’s the worst career advice you ever received?
What do you listen to on your commute?
What does your family look like?
Do you have any pets?
Were you the oldest, middle, or youngest child?
Do you have any unique family traditions?
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
What’s your favorite thing to do with your family?
What TV or movie family best represents your own?
Have you ever been to a family reunion? What was it like?
What do you know about your family’s origins?
Who was your childhood best friend? Are you still in touch with them?
What are your favorite hobbies?
What is your favorite way to spend your free time?
What’s the last book you read?
What’s the last movie you watched?
What TV show(s) are you currently watching?
What movie have you seen the most times?
Do you have a favorite book or movie?
Do you enjoy binge-watching Netflix shows? What’s your favorite show to binge on?
What was the first concert you attended? Do you still listen to that artist?
What is your favorite material possession?
What was the last movie you saw in theaters?
If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
Do you enjoy podcasts? What are your favorites?
What was your favorite subject in high school?
Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it?
Do you collect anything? How did you start?
Do you play any sports or instruments?
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what three things would you bring?
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
What is your most irrational fear?
Who is your hero, fictional or not?
What is the best (or worst) gift you have ever received (or given)?
Have you ever received a compliment you still think about today?
If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Why?
If you could instantly acquire one talent or ability, what would it be? Why?
Still feeling nervous about how to ask these get-to-know-you questions smoothly? Here are a few tips for having a good conversation with someone new.
Active listening is a way of demonstrating that you are paying attention to your conversation partner.
Generally, active listening means that you fully process what the other person is saying before responding. You don’t interrupt, don’t rush to judgment, and don’t assume you know what the other person means.
Active listening is a soft skill that helps you have better conversations and remember more information about the people you’re talking to. That makes it easier to build relationships with your coworkers.
You can put active listening to good use by asking additional questions about your coworker’s responses. Don’t overthink it — just ask about what makes you curious.
To really keep the conversation going, be sure to ask open-ended questions rather than those that can be answered with a simple yes or no.
While your get-to-know-you questions don’t have to be strictly work-related, you should still keep them lighthearted and professional.
Avoid hot-button topics like politics, religion, or sexuality, as well as overly personal questions about people’s lives. It’s okay to ask about the basics of their partners, kids, and pets, but don’t get into the details of their relationships.
As a rule, just let it go if someone seems hesitant or uncomfortable. Change the subject with a get-to-know-you question on a lighter subject.
Getting to know your coworkers can feel like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.
With our handy small talk tips and list of get-to-know-you questions, you can be the spark of conversation that builds rapport, boosts morale, and improves communication and productivity across your team.
For more tips and advice on your work life and connections, join the Jobcase community.