Application tips

How to break the ice before a job interview

14 Jan 2020
“How much does a polar bear weigh? Enough to break the ice!” OK, this is probably not the most original nor the most appropriate icebreaker to use before a job interview. But you get the point, right? Icebreakers can certainly help you relieve tension before a job interview.

In this article, we will discuss some tips on how to break the ice before a job interview. And our tips do not involve any use of polar bears!


Most of us feel some sort of stress or anxiety before a job interview. The following tips can help you relieve tension before and during your next job interview:

    • Give the recruiter the opportunity to start the talking

Don’t feel obliged to take the first step. Usually, the recruiter will kick off the conversation with an easy question. The most popular opening question used by recruiters is probably: “Did you find the office easily?”. Make sure you prepare your answer well before entering the building!

If you don’t prepare your answer in advance and if you answer with a sigh or a long-winded story about a dreadful quest and lack of parking spaces… you will not make a great first impression. Try to prepare a positive response with a touch of humor instead to relieve tension and to start the interview on the right foot.

    • Keep it shortmind your posture during job interview

An icebreaker should not take more than 1 or 2 minutes… at most! Short answers and quick jokes are usually more powerful than long monologues. Don’t go on and on about the traffic or your hobbies. And don’t try to deliver a stand-up comedy act either.

    • Be professional at all times

Don’t talk about your nightly escapades and certainly don’t use political jokes or dark humor. Humour is powerful, but also a dangerous tool for communication. You never know how people will respond. You better play it safe!

    • Avoid awkward silences

Therefore, make sure to prepare a few icebreakers and/or interesting questions before you go to your next job interview. Preparing such questions may be easier than you think.

Start with visiting the website and social media channels of the company you are applying with and see if the company has been positive in the news lately. If you talk about current events and if you show that you know about the company’s recent achievements, you will make a good impression right away.

Do you have your icebreakers?

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  • Practice and learn

Many of us find it difficult to start a conversation with a stranger. If you feel the same way, try to practice first in situations where you feel comfortable (e.g. at your local bakery). Try to start a chat with a stranger standing next to you. The weather is a classic but simple subject to start up a conversation. But there are other ways that may even be easier.

The secret is in the connection with your conversation partner. If you see that he or she is in a good mood, try to respond to that. If you sense that he or she is frustrated because he or she has to wait, you can use your common frustration as a starting point. Try to empathize with your conversation partner. You will notice that the conversation will start up quickly!

verbal and non-verbal communic


    • Learn at your next party

If you want to (learn to) make new contacts, try to meet new people at the next party you attend. Don’t just stick with the people you already know. Don’t see strangers as a threat but as an opportunity to get to know new people.

Remember that you are not the only person who may find it difficult to connect with strangers. Therefore, at your next party look for a stranger who is standing alone and who is looking around without great focus. You are probably both in the same boat. That creates a bond! The other person will be happy and perhaps even thankful if you start a conversation.

    • Be the type of person you like most

Which kind of people do you like most? Most probably you like people who are looking at you when they talk to you, who are happy and who have a good attitude. Try to be this very person to the people you want to connect with.

Take care of your facial expressions and body language at all times. Make sure others want to come to you and talk to you when you approach them.

    • Silence is not always golden

You may not realize it, but silence is often interpreted as arrogance! So silence is not always golden. Always try to answer with a smile when others start a conversation with you and keep a number of icebreakers up your sleeve to start a conversation when you can and/or need to.

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Maxime van Belle Content Marketeer