Start the Conversation Right: 40 Conversation Starters

Here are some conversation starters to break the ice in any professional situation and help establish a connection between you and others.



Table of Contents

  1. Land the job you want with conversation starters
  2. Why conversation starters are important?
  3. Top 10 conversation starters for job networking
  4. 20 great conversation starters in a social setting
  5. 10 good conversation starters during a job interview
  6. 5 tips for keeping the conversation going
  7. More job search and networking resources
  8. FAQ: conversation starters

Land the job you want with conversation starters

Conversation starters that lead to pleasant small talk and exciting conversations are excellent tools for candidates to build meaningful rapport with interviewers. Building rapport is crucial as small talk during a networking event or before a job interview officially begins paves the way for a great interview and significantly increases your chances of getting hired.

You can become instantly appealing to hiring managers and recruiters by practicing conversation starters before an interview. Many job seekers miss this opportunity to build rapport and bypass it together when interviewing for a job position, but great conversation starters aren’t as simple as picking from any list of conversation topics and running with it.

This article will cover the best conversation starter topics and questions to use in any professional situation that will instantly lead to a deeper and more genuine conversation. Using these topics and questions will pave the way for developing more meaningful relationships.

Why conversation starters are important?

Conversation starters can vary greatly depending on the situation, but they all serve as ice-breakers that can lead you to meaningful and deep conversations. Some conversation starters are suitable for a specific situation but entirely unsuitable for others.

For example, you may find yourself on a first date on Valentine’s Day, struggling to make some good vibes by engaging in some small talk. In this case, casual or funny conversation starters like talking about your favourite restaurant, favourite food, or even sharing your worst pick-up line would be very suitable. Even asking your date silly “would-you-rather” questions or about their biggest regrets while in high school would all be suitable conversation starters for your first time on a date. But using these types of personal questions during a job interview is the worst thing you can do and can probably guarantee that you will see that hiring manager for the last time.

In the sections below we’ll go over the top five conversation starters to use with a job interviewer and the top five conversation starters for job networking. Finally, we’ll provide a practical guideline for how to keep the conversation going once you’ve asked the specific questions and started the small talk.

Top 10 conversation starters for job networking

Having the skills to start and maintain an interesting conversation is an excellent communication skills for job networking events. Choosing the proper conversation starters for networking events can help you develop meaningful rapport with other professionals in your industry, make new connections and build long-lasting relationships.

Networking events provide an excellent opportunity to build potential partnerships with professionals in your industry. But you can’t make these potential partnerships if you don’t leave a great first impression, and for that, you must know how to start and maintain conversations. Therefore, to fully take advantage of networking events, use these five great conversation starters to mingle with like-minded professionals and develop meaningful relationships and potential partnerships:

1. What did you do for a living before your current role?

Networking events provide the opportunity to meet new people in your industry but it’s also good to know where people’s backgrounds lie. Questions like these are a great way to bond with peers over past work experiences.

2. What was your first job?

Everyone has had a foolhardy or funny experience at their first job so broaching this topic is a great way to break the ice and form attachments with new peers.

3. What’s the best thing about your job?

This question is a great way to get others to talk about their responsibilities and achievements in a casual setting and for you to get a better idea of what your role entails.

4. What’s an average day at the office like for you?

Having someone describe their typical day is a great way to get a feel for what someone’s favourite and least favourite parts of the day are through observing their body language as they walk you through their experience.

5. What would be your dream job?

Delving into what kind of work environment and company culture a person prefers to work and how it will positively impact themselves and others is ideal for discovering a person’s core values.

6. What is the highlight of your day?

This question is a great litmus test for seeing what people find urgent, joyful, or satisfying in their day to day lives.

7. Who’s your role model for your career?

Finding out who people admire in a professional setting shows that someone values their career success and their motivations aren’t just about being able to produce a set of outcomes alone.

8. What made you interested in your career?

Getting an answer to this question will help you understand what a person’s career objectives are and how they plan to learn and grow their skills.

9. What’s the biggest regret of your career so far?

Talking about how we deal with failure is not only a good way to bond, but also can lead to new ways of looking at problems.

10. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had this year?

Learning new ways to adapt to problems and share struggles you were able to solve or overcome shows you are taking both the conversation and this opportunity to network seriously.

20 great conversation starters in a social setting

Once you’ve successfully used these conversation starters to engage in small talk at networking events, you can then maintain the conversation by asking more casual questions to build further rapport, such as the following, which have been broken down by topic:


Most people have things they hope to accomplish, both inside and outside of work. Talking about goals can be an excellent way to bond with other people and announcing these ambitions can keep people motivated to improve or progress in their own goals. Here are a couple questions you can ask, along with share a bit about your own self-improvement plans so that you can plan or celebrate together:

  • What are the top three things on your bucket list?
  • What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
  • What would you say is your best talent?

Light personal questions

Sometimes talks that are too politically charged, too personal, or revolve in gossip can get heated, and it is often best to steer away from overly controversial topics until you have a relationship with someone and know how they will react. So the best thing to do is discuss subjects that can be open to follow up questions without making anyone uncomfortable, such as:

  • What’s the best purchase you’ve ever made?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • Do you have a work-related pet peeve?

Vacations and holidays

People love traveling or taking time off to unwind. Trips are an exciting and engaging conversation topics as it brings a sense of bonding and joy to the conversation. You can ask about past travels, or plans for upcoming trips as this offers a chance to bond over common destinations, or just to focus on thoughts of rest and relaxation.

  • Where’d you go on your last vacation?
  • What is one thing you can’t live without?
  • Living in the mountains or living by the sea – which would you choose?
  • What’s your favourite holiday?


Hobbies are one of the most popular talking points. Learning what people like to do in their spare time can help you understand and appreciate them as individuals and can provide opportunities for future conversations.

  • What’s your favourite movie of all time?
  • What about your favourite book or favorite song?
  • What’s your favourite thing to do in your free time?
  • What’s the last good book you read?
  • What TV show are you into right now?
  • Do you have a favourite sport?
  • Do you have a favourite podcast?
  • What’s your favourite type of music?
  • Do you have a favourite local restaurant?

10 good conversation starters during a job interview

Pre-interview small talk can be crucial for ensuring a smooth and successful interaction during an interview. Preparing some good conversation starters can help avoid awkward silences and uncomfortable beginnings in an interview. In addition, they allow you to start interviews with an instinctive and personal touch making you more likable and provide perfect opportunities for follow-up questions regarding the job.

Here are some perfect conversation starters to use with an interviewer:

1. How long have you been with this company?

Asking this question will help you find out just how much they like not just their position, but the company itself.

2. Will I be working within a team? What can you share with me about that?

This question is helpful not just for day to day purposes but to get an idea of the work and project management still of the company you’re interested in.

3. What’s the culture like within the company?

This is the type of question that helps you figure out if the company you’re interviewing at has a value system matches your own. The formal and informal behaviours of how a company functions create an experience for both its employees and customers so finding out early on if you would be a good fit is essential.

4. What aspect of your job is the most satisfying/rewarding for you?

Another factor that goes into a successful interview is seeing how the company mentors and prepares its current employees for success. This question will help you find out what the most meaningful part of the job is to your interviewer which can provide you with excellent professional insights.

5. What do you think is the most crucial skill in your profession?

There are many different types of skills; soft skills, hard skills, and technical skills. Finding out which soft skill the interviewer values can help you get an idea of what communication style is most effective. Or, if they are more hard or technical skills-focused this will help you focus on your ideal responsibilities in the role.

6. What would you say is the biggest reward of working here?

Asking this question is a great way to hone in on what specific skills or talents are valued most by the company you are interviewing with and how the current employers feel about their individual contributions.

7. What interests you most/least about this job?

While this may be a tough question, it will let you know what some of the more tedious aspects of the workplace could be — just remember to keep the conversation positive and emphasize that you are excited about the opportunity.

8. How do you deal with conflict in the workplace?

This question is more of a litmus test for you as it will give you an idea if you’ll thrive at their company and if your voice will be heard during serious discussions.

9. If there’s one thing you’d like the company to change, what would it be?

This will help you get an idea of what the background workings of the company are like and how open to other points of view and adaption the employer is.

10. What would you say is the biggest challenge you face in your job?

Figuring out if the interviewer spends more time on the conflict or the resolution of this issue gives you some deeper insights into the professional workings of the company.

5 tips for keeping the conversation going

Once you’ve successfully gotten the conversation started, it’s equally important to keep the conversation going in the right direction. You can do this by being an active listener. To be an effective active listener, show the interviewer that you’re listening by having open body language and by making and maintaining eye contact. Show that you have summarised what the speaker has said when you ask relevant follow-up questions to show them that you are invested in the conversation and want to continue it.

Here are five ways to keep the conversation going:

  • Practice your nonverbal communication: This means that you show interest on your face, you’re not crossing your arms, your tone of voice is positive, and you feel comfortable in your surroundings.
  • Use active listening: active listening involves paying close attention to what someone is saying to you, rephrasing what the person is saying and asking clarifying questions to understand what they are saying. Remember to focus on the speaker and avoid distractions by paying close attention to who you’re communicating with, engaging with them and asking questions.
  • Steer the conversation to topics you’re both interested in: ask questions that begin with who, what, why, when, where, and how is an easy way to narrow down broader topics to the parts that interest you or to sublet change the subject without being forceful.
  • Ask open-ended questions: these are questions that are phrased as a statement which would then require a longer response then something static like a “yes” or a “no.” An open ended question can also lead to follow ups which will help keep the conversation flowing.
  • Have conversations with people you’re comfortable with: use friends and family to test out new conversation starters and practice elaborating on new topics with them.

More job search and networking resources

CVHelp provides conversation starters to break the ice in any professional situation and to help establish a connection between you and others. It also has plenty of other resources and guides for networking and making connections.

Check out these resources if you need help with:

  • Career advice and planning: the following articles will help you get through the process of preparing for your career search so that every aspect of your job application is complete, accurate and that you’re ready for success.
  • How to use networking to get ahead in your career: networking can be one of the most valuable tools in your job search toolbox. Find out what you need to know about networking and building connections.
  • Interview tips: when a job interviewer asks questions about your CV, how should you answer them? Just follow CVHelp’s professional tips and guide to find out how.
  • Interview questions: behavioral interview questions are questions recruiters ask candidates in order to get an idea of their soft skills, personality and communication skills. Figure out the best way to answer these questions just time for your next interview.
  • How to use the STAR method in answering questions: here’s how you can ace your interview using the STAR method.
  • Job search guide and tips: there are many sites you can use to search for jobs, so where do you start? Here’s CVHelp’s tips on the top sites you can use for an effective job search.

FAQ: conversation starters

Q: Why is small talk important?

Small talk is important because it helps pave the way for authentic and deeper conversations down the line. It also increases your ability to bond with others and enables you to find common ground and shared interests with those around you.

Q: What are the worst conversation starters?

Regardless of the situation, topics relating to politics, money, social media, personal family questions, the internet, death, religion, sex, or gossip tend to be awkward conversation starters.

Q: What are the best conversation starter topics?

Here are a sampling of great conversation starter topics you can use to begin conversing with others:

  • Sports
  • News
  • Entertainment
  • Music
  • Things you want to learn
  • Hobbies
  • Family
  • What makes you laugh

Q: What is the best topic for a conversation?

The best way to broach a conversation with someone doesn’t actually revolve around a particular topic, since interests are subjective. If you want to see if a new person is interested in talking to you, start by asking them for help. While this may seem counterintuitive as it opens you up to more rejection than simply doing nothing, directly asking one person for help with a small task (something with clear expectations like finding a lost pen) is rewarding for both you and the other person. It’s a quick way to establish emotional closeness as you are expressing a vulnerability in asking for assistance and this enables a wired response for kindness in the other person leading to a positive social interaction, thus making it easier in the future for you to talk about more personal matters with this person.

Q: How do I start a unique conversation?

If you are looking to avoid the “nice weather we’re having” conversation or other topics that may lead to awkward silence, the best way to begin a unique and interesting conversation is with a compliment. It can be something as simple as noting someone’s novelty socks and asking where they got them. Or if a co-worker had a great suggestion for a project, tell them that — and why you like the idea. This approach will foster a more unique and personalised conversation than just asking how their weekend was or if they are as confused by daylight savings as you are.

Q: How do I make small talk?

Being positive and purposeful are the first steps in making good small talk. Being thrown into a room full of strangers and acquaintances can be both confusing and anxiety-inducing so pause and take a moment to think about what you would want to share with another person and what they might like to know about you, like a hobby you have or a movie you liked and form an open-ended question around that. Simple questions like “How are you” lead to one-word answers but if you ask an open-ended question like “What did you think of today’s presentation?” and practice your active listening skills you can develop a dialog with another person that is both engaging and beneficial.


Move your CV to the top of the yes pile!

Get Started

We personalize your experience.

We use cookies in our website to ensure we give you the best experience, get to know our users and deliver better marketing. For this purpose, we may share the information collected with third parties. By clicking “Allow cookies” you give us your consent to use all cookies. If you prefer to manage your cookies click on the “Manage cookies” link below.

Manage Cookies