When you first enter the interview, the opening question is always designed to introduce yourself so you feel comfortable in the surroundings before the questions become more specific. Generally speaking, “ice breaking questions” are broad, yet they can be so important with how they impact the rest of your interview. Just like in a sports game, the opening minutes of the game are not where the game can be won, but where it can potentially be lost. The same goes for the interview – you are not going to get the job because of the answer you provide, but you can lose the job with your answer. Although the ice breaking question will be a general question about yourself or how your day is going, remember this is the hiring manager’s first impression of you. Giving off the wrong first impression can severely affect the outcome of the interview.
- Tell me a little about yourself…
- Were there any problems finding our office today?
- Have you visited our location before?
- If there is a major sporting event like the Olympics going on the hiring manager may ask something along the lines of “Have you been following the Olympics?”
- Would you like some coffee or a glass of water?
- Are you enjoying this weather?
- Why have you applied for this role? (Trickier ice breaker question)
The most important aspect of answering an ice breaking question is to build early rapport with the interviewer. As I mentioned, you are not going to get the job just because you answer the ice breaking question in a brilliant way, but answering the question the wrong way can give off the wrong first impression.
- Keep the answer related to the question and be brief and polite. This is not the time to tell the interviewer your life story
- Use proper English – If you are asked how you are doing the correct answer would be “Very well thank you, and how are you? or “Fine thank you, how are you today?” – Using slang or lazy English can create an unprofessional or even careless impression.
How to blow the ice breaking question:
A colleague of mine was interviewing candidates for a new role. As a polite introduction he would ask the candidate if they found the company building ok. Most of the candidates smiled and said yes to this question. One candidate, however, told the interviewer how it took him a long time to find the building and how his train was late. He rambled on for 2 minutes about the difficulty in finding the building. Before the interview had formally even begun he had already created a negative impression on the interviewer. He had lost the job before the interview had even started.