people sitting to the side of a conference table, some in chairs, some sitting on tables, talking and smiling
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You’re standing at a party where you only know the host or maybe that one friend who always ends up running “just a few minutes late,” and you can’t think of a single thing to say to the people near you. Or maybe you’re working with a new group on a project at work, or you’ve matched with someone on Bumble and now you’re staring at a blank message screen.

Let’s face it—it can be tough to think of a conversation starter that goes beyond, “What’d you do this weekend?” or, “It’s a little cold today, isn’t it?” 

So we’ve put together a list of get-to-know-you questions that dig a little deeper and will actually teach you something about people—or at least get a conversation going. After all, does anybody really care about your packing preferences for that hypothetical desert island?

Throw out a couple of these prompts (many of which we actually use right here at The Muse) at a team meeting or party when the small talk lulls and get ready to bond on a whole new level.

If you’re looking for more ways to get people comfortable, we also have icebreaker questions and questions that will make small talk easier, as well as icebreaker games and team-building activities.

Best basic get-to-know-you questions

Here are a few queries that’ll work in almost any setting where you might meet someone new (just introduce yourself first!). They’ll help you quickly learn some basic info about a person and their interests—and hopefully kick-start some good conversations.

  1. How do you like to spend your time outside of work or school?
  2. Do you have any hobbies?
  3. Do you collect anything?
  4. Are you an early bird or a night owl?
  5. How do you like to start your day?
  6. How do you like to end your day?
  7. What kinds of activities drain you?
  8. What kinds of activities energize you?
  9. What’s one thing you’re learning now or learned recently?
  10. What’s something you saw recently that made you smile?
  11. What’s something you saw recently that made you laugh?
  12. What’s something you’ve done, but you’ll never do again?
  13. What are you passionate about?
  14. What’s your guilty pleasure?
  15. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  16. What’s your ideal way to spend your weekends?
  17. Are you reading anything interesting right now?
  18. Are you bingeing any shows?
  19. Do you have any pets? (Of course, followed by: Do you have any pictures?)

Best get-to-know-you questions about favorites

Asking about someone’s favorites can be a great gateway to getting to know them. After all, most people enjoy talking about things they’re passionate about—just make sure you ask follow-up questions or share your own experiences.

  1. Are you a dog person or a cat person (or neither)?
  2. What’s your favorite place to eat around here?
  3. What’s your favorite snack?
  4. What’s your favorite TV show or one you’d never get tired of rewatching?
  5. Which season is your favorite?
  6. Who’s your favorite musical artist?
  7. What’s your favorite tradition (holiday or otherwise)?
  8. What’s your favorite comfort media (book, show, movie, music, or anything else)?
  9. What’s your favorite sport to watch? How about to play?
  10. What’s your favorite game to play?

Best get-to-know-you questions for work

Work can be one of the most common contexts in which you’ll need to get to know someone—if you’re having lunch or a one-on-one meeting with a colleague, for example, or you’re at a professional networking event. Well, these questions cover nearly every possible work-related topic.

  1. What do you do at [Company] and in what circumstances would I come to you for something?
  2. What’s one thing you wish you’d known when you started working at [Company] or what advice would you give to a newbie?
  3. What’s one professional skill you’re currently working on?
  4. What’s your go-to productivity trick?
  5. What behavior or personality trait do you most attribute your success to, and why?
  6. What was your first job?
  7. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had, and what did you learn from it?
  8. What was your favorite job you’ve ever had and why?
  9. What’s a mistake you made early on in your career, and what did you learn from it?
  10. What led you to this career?
  11. What energizes you at work?
  12. What are you currently excited about in your job?
  13. What drains you at work?
  14. What’s one thing that surprised you about working at [Company]?
  15. What’s a work-related accomplishment that you’re really proud of?
  16. What’s one of your biggest work pet peeves?
  17. What’s the biggest misconception people have about your position?
  18. If you could add one thing to [Company’s] office, what would it be?
  19. If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be?
  20. If salary weren’t a factor, what job would you want to have?

Best get-to-know-you questions for students

Here are a few questions you can ask people in school—whether you’re a student yourself, a teacher, or someone interacting with students. Just make sure the questions you choose account for what kind of school you’re in (i.e., elementary school students don’t have majors and college students, unfortunately, don’t have recess).

  1. What’s your favorite subject?
  2. What do you like to do during recess?
  3. What’s your favorite class you’ve ever taken?
  4. Who’s the best teacher you ever had?
  5. What’s your favorite topic to learn about?
  6. What’s your least favorite class?
  7. Are you in any extracurricular activities?
  8. If you could create any school club you wanted and knew people would join, what would it be?
  9. What class do you wish this school had?
  10. Why did you choose your major?
  11. What drew you to this school?
  12. What’s your favorite project you ever did for a class?

Best personal get-to-know-you questions

You want to dig a little deeper to understand who a person really is. These questions go beyond lighthearted icebreakers to give you some better insight into what makes that person tick.

  1. If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?
  2. If you could write a book about your life, what would the title be and why?
  3. What’s one thing you’re currently trying to make a habit?
  4. What advice would you give to your teenage self?
  5. What do you do to turn things around when you’re having a bad day?
  6. What’s a trip that changed you, and why?
  7. What’s one of your favorite memories from the past year?
  8. What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
  9. What’s something—big or small—that you’re really bad at?
  10. What’s something—big or small—that you’re really good at?
  11. What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?
  12. What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
  13. What three words would your friends use to describe you?
  14. What’s your favorite story to tell about your past?
  15. What topic could you give an hour-long presentation on with little to no preparation?
  16. What book, movie, music, etc. changed your outlook on life?
  17. Where would you be right now if you had zero obligations and money didn’t matter?
  18. Is there any experience you think everyone should be required to have? What is it?
  19. Do you still live near where you grew up? Why or why not?

Best get-to-know-you questions about hypothetical situations

These “What would you do?” questions can get people talking about some surprising topics—and give you great insight into who they are and what matters to them.

  1. If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would you choose?
  2. If you had to pick one age to be permanently, which age would you choose?
  3. Do you have a hidden talent? What is it?
  4. If you could choose a superpower, what would it be?
  5. If you could only eat one dish for every meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?
  6. If you could only have three apps on a smartphone, which would you pick?
  7. If you were the only human left on Earth, what would you do?
  8. What’s the top destination on your must-visit list?
  9. What fictional place would you most like to visit?
  10. What fictional place would you most like to live in?
  11. What would you do if you were gifted a million dollars, no strings attached?
  12. What about a billion dollars?
  13. If you could meet one person, living or dead, real or fictional, and have a conversation with them, who would you meet and what would you talk about?
  14. What would your dream home look like?

Best fun get-to-know-you questions

If you’re looking for a quirky or upbeat way to kick off a team meeting with some bonding or even just get a one-on-one conversation rolling, these fun, unexpected, and low-pressure icebreaker questions should do the trick.

  1. What’s your favorite sports team to root for?
  2. What trend do you hope makes a comeback?
  3. What’s the worst/best fad you participated in?
  4. What’s one hobby you’d love to get into?
  5. What’s one item you can’t leave home without?
  6. What’s one item you want to own that you don’t?
  7. What’s one song or artist that you’re embarrassed to admit you like?
  8. What’s one song you have completely memorized?
  9. What’s one totally irrational fear that you have?
  10. What’s the first concert you ever went to? Or what concert would you like to go to?
  11. What’s your go-to karaoke song?
  12. What’s your most hated household chore?
  13. What’s your most used emoji?
  14. What food have you tried that was the furthest out of your comfort zone?
  15. Who would play you in a movie about your life? Who would be the supporting cast?
  16. What hobby or interest do you wish you could get more people into?

Regina Borsellino contributed writing, reporting, and/or advice to this article.

Updated 4/22/2022