5 easy ways to break the ice when interviewing candidates

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Striking up a conversation when meeting someone for the first time can be a challenge under normal circumstances, but it’s even harder in an interview setting.
 
Nerves can do incredible things to candidates when put under the spotlight in an interview. Even a candidate who is normally cool, calm, and collected might struggle to let their true self shine through.
 
If you want to get an accurate picture of what an individual might really be like once they’re a part of the team, it’s up to you to establish the right atmosphere that’s conducive to good conversation—and ice-breakers are a great way to do it.
 
While every interview will come with a set of core questions that need to be asked, ice-breakers can help to lighten up the mood by putting both the interviewer and interviewee at ease and getting the conversation flowing.
breakingtheice | Teamrecruit

Examples of great ice-breaker questions

While simple conversation starters such as commenting on the weather or asking if they had any difficulty getting to the interview are always a great place to start; come question time why not try one or two of these icebreakers that will help to get the interview off to a good start?
 

1. Tell us something about yourself that we might not expect

This is a great way to give the candidate some control to set the tone for the rest of the interview.
 
They might choose to tell you about their hobbies or interests, their travel escapades, something humorous or an unusual talent they might have. You never know what’s going to come out and you’ll get to learn a bit more about the person as an individual, rather than just the person as a candidate.
 

Whatever they choose to disclose, this is a great way to get them talking about a subject they’re comfortable with rather than going straight in with hard-hitting questions about their skills, experience, and aspirations.

2. What’s the most unusual job you’ve ever had?

Everyone’s had one or two slightly odd jobs throughout their work history, right? Why not do a little digging to find out more about some of the more interesting parts of their work history.
 
While the role they decide to talk about might not be relevant to the role they’re applying for, you may discover an extra skill set you otherwise wouldn’t have known about while also uncovering some fun facts about the candidate along the way!
 
3. How do you think your last boss would describe you if you weren’t in the room?
 
This is always an interesting one as it encourages the candidate to look at themselves from a different perspective.
 
Not only will it give the candidate an opportunity to highlight what they see as their strengths, but often they’ll also volunteer some insights about how well they relate to management and their ability to build positive workplace relationships.
 

4. What would you say is the highlight of your career so far?

This ice-breaker will do two things—it will give the candidate the opportunity to show off a little by talking about their key achievements as well as providing some very valuable insights about what the candidate finds most rewarding or satisfying.

With this information, you’ll be able to get a far better idea about whether the candidate is likely to enjoy working in the role you have on offer and what’s likely to motivate them.
 
5. What would you do if you could have any job in the world?
 
This one is a great one to ask if you want to get some real insights about the candidate’s personality and what gets them excited.
 
While of course you won’t necessarily be able to deliver on their grandiose ideas of their dream job, this can be a fun question that’s sure to give you a better understanding of who the candidate is and what they might bring to the table.
 
If you need some more icebreaker questions, check out this earlier article we did back in 2020 for some extra ideas.
 
Teamrecruit is Australia’s most established recruitment agency specialising in truck, earthmoving and agricultural machinery dealerships in Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific and Southeast Asia. Find out more about Teamrecruit and how we support employers and candidates in the dealership industry.

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