Corporate Wellbeing Asia 2023
human resources online

Top 5 icebreaker questions HR should ask candidates


We’re all familiar with the concept of socially breaking the ice at parties with a polite – yet pertinent – question. But icebreaker questions serve an equally important function in a job interview setting as well. The first question that a recruiter asks of a prospective candidate helps to set the tone for the entire interview.

Research has revealed that taking several minutes form to build rapport at the commencement of an interview can have a significant influence on recruiters’ impression of candidates. Icebreaker questions not only help candidates settle into the interview but they are also a smart, yet subtle, way of informally garnering information about prospective employees.

Best practice icebreaker questions

No. #1 “We have set aside X minutes today for this interview, is this a realistic time frame for you?”This is a good question to establish a candidate’s time availability, to ensure they don’t feel too rushed during the interview process.

“Often there could be a time concern causing anxiety. If a candidate is meeting before work or on their lunch break they may be very conscious of this, thus impacting the way they communicate and answer questions,” says Jodette Cleary, chief people officer at Hipages.

No. #2 “What do you need in your job to get you leaping out of bed in the morning and excited to come to work each day?”This helps to explore if the role and challenge is a good fit for the prospective candidate.

No. #3 “If you won $50 million dollars, what would you do with it?”

This is a good way to ascertain what motivates and genuinely excites a person.

According to Cleary, “Often beyond the immediate role or team there are things happening or planned in the company that an individual would be able to contribute to that is a great fit for their interests and passion.”

No. #4 “How do think your boss would describe you and how would they rate your performance out of 10?”

This can give insight into the style of manager the candidate works best with.

No. #5 “What do you do in your free time?”

“If you’re hiring for a role requiring creative flair, you want someone who genuinely demonstrates interest in being creative by what they do in their free time,” says Cleary.

Remember that the art of recruiting an employee is not an exact science and sometimes, despite a strong interview and sound reference checks, prospective candidates still may not fit the role or your organisation.

“You typically don't have a long time to get to find out all of this information. Icebreaker questions help you to get to vital insights quickly,” concludes Cleary.

Parts of this article were first published on the Seek website.

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