You’ve been working hard to bring your team together, but you need something more. These 20 team building questions will help you make connections and build rapport.
What Are Team Building Questions?
Team building questions highlight what your team has in common. They are also a great way to showcase what each person values and motivates them. Team building questions are one of the fastest ways to help a team get to know one another.
It’s easy to hold a grudge against a coworker or be annoyed by their quirks when you know nothing about them; that changes when you understand some of their hopes, fears, or current struggles. Team-building questions won’t give you their whole backstory (that would be invasive!), but they help you see the humanity in the people you work with every day.
The questions also help build the connections necessary for you to function as a team. Not only will you see each other in new ways, but more importantly, you will build rapport and trust with your coworkers.
The Best Team Building Questions–Virtual or In-Person
Here are twenty of the best team building questions (even for virtual team building) to get you started at your next meeting.
What is something outside of work that you’ve been working to accomplish?
Don’t forget your coworkers have a life outside of work.
Passions. Dreams. Crochet projects.
This question guides them to share what they’re passionate about or projects they are currently working on. Whether it’s a long-term goal to buy a house finally or learning Portuguese for their next vacation, you’ll find out some of the things your team cares about.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget about your answer! Are you working on an interesting project? Make sure you start something that can give you a great story.
What it accomplishes: Reveals what motivates them and makes them feel seen.
What is your favorite family tradition or a tradition you’ve created for yourself?
A culturally diverse workplace requires cultural awareness. This question allows them to learn about their families, religion, and culture.
What we love about this question is it brings cultural awareness to the forefront without singling out one person or one group to scrutinize. Encourage everyone to ask follow-up questions to understand better where the person is coming from.
What it accomplishes: Team building through cultural awareness.
Using one or two descriptive words, tell us how you hope others see you.
We know this will bring some surprises to the team and reveal what is important to your coworker. Pay attention to the answers. If these qualities aren’t present in others, they are likely causing them annoyance or frustration.
Let’s say Ronnie chooses the word punctual.
Suddenly, you understand why he’s always a bit terse with you. Your time experience is much more relaxed, but you had no idea that Ronnie felt disrespected by that.
The things people work to establish in their own lives are the things they value. When one person unknowingly tramples on the values of another, that creates feelings of injustice and disrespect. It’s a sure recipe for misunderstanding and conflict.
What it accomplishes: Descriptor words bring an understanding of their values and what may be interpersonal triggers. It will also let you know what their social goals are.
If you could invite 3 people to a dinner party (living or dead, fictional or real), who would you invite? Why?
Imagine learning a colleague who never fails to trigger you would invite Salvador Dali, Atticus Finch, and Taylor Swift. Why? Because his father was born in the same region of Spain as Salvador Dali and Atticus Finch inspires him. Taylor Swift? His granddaughter loves her, and he’d need to have someone at the party for her.
Without getting too personal, this fun question goes straight to the heart to show what your teammate cares about and how they think.
What it accomplishes: Gain insights into their family, their hobbies, and even their values with a bit of fun added in.
What is your guilty pleasure?
This light question will get some laughs while giving insight into your teammates. Does Tom prefer You’ve Got Mail to ESPN and can’t help but watch it every time it’s available? Maybe Young-Mi can’t get enough of beef tacos every Taco Tuesday, even though she’s been trying to go vegan. You’ll glimpse their desires, habits, and possibly even their motivations.
Plus, sharing something vulnerable builds a connection as a team.
We love this question more than, “What’s your biggest fear?” or, “What’s one of your biggest mistakes?” Both ask for a little too much vulnerability and can be triggering for some.
Pro Tip: If you are worried about inappropriate answers, add the caveat, “Keep it PG, everyone!”
What it accomplishes: Builds rapport while helping release tension through laughter.
What language would you like to learn and why?
You may discover your coworker wants to learn German because his family, like many German Americans, stopped speaking German during WWII.
Or you may discover your coworker wants to learn Japanese because she had a Japanese pen pal as a kid.
Or maybe they want to learn French simply because it’s a beautiful language.
This question could take you deeply or skirt the surface. Either way, you’ll learn something new and might even find several coworkers who want to know the same language. If this is the case, organize a language club!
Ask this follow-up question if it wasn’t answered organically: “Do you already speak a second language?”
What it accomplishes: Gives insight into personal culture and interests.
What’s something you don’t like that everyone loves?
This question is the pessimist’s dream come true.
It’s fun because it’s entirely unexpected. It will also give your colleagues the freedom to express that no, they don’t like having everyone sing to them on their birthday. OK, that’s a mixed bag for everyone, but letting people share what they don’t can be freeing and even funny.
What it accomplishes: Humorous interaction and the knowledge to avoid doing or giving someone something they don’t even like.
How has X current event impacted you?
We can all look at stories in the news and feel sadness for those involved. Let’s take it further and actively make a difference by opening conversations to explore how they impact the people we know.
What it accomplishes: Shows coworkers you care and can open up an interesting discussion.
What has someone done in the office that encouraged or helped you lately?
It’s no secret that gratitude makes you feel happier. Make time in your meetings to build each other up and publicly thank the person who encouraged you.
Sharing gratitude publicly not only gives you warm fuzzies but also impacts the whole group. According to this study, people who witness gratitude:
- Have a more favorable impression of both the person giving thanks and the one receiving thanks.
- Feel more willing to help the person who expressed gratitude.
- Experience feelings of trust towards the grateful person.
- Want to engage more with the people who gave and received thanks.
Talk about team building!
What it accomplishes: Focuses on uniting the team with trust while building a culture of gratitude.
How do you like to be praised and appreciated?
Everyone is different. While some people love public appreciation, for others, it feels embarrassing or even frightening.
You won’t know unless you ask, and honestly, they might not know the answer themselves! Patiently explore this with them and press into these kinds of awkward conversations. It will make you a better manager, and it will show your teammate you care enough to find out the answer.
Pro Tip: Ask this in your one-on-one meeting instead of your all-team meeting. Make sure to write down their response. Over time, build a spreadsheet that details the appreciation language of each person on the team.
What it accomplishes: Builds trust and gives you tools to motivate your staff effectively.
How did you get to your current job?
You’ve seen your employees’ resumes, but how much of their work history do you remember? Plus, so many things never make it onto a resume. You and the team probably have no idea your coworker once lived on a nonprofit ship or used to lifeguard when they were young or worked on a horse ranch in Montana.
The unique skills and history that brought each person to this moment in time can be funny, surprising, or even poignant. Give your team the chance to share a part of their story, and pay attention to the unique talents you may be underutilizing.
What it accomplishes: Connects you as a team by learning some of their backstories and provides insight into how to use their skills better.
What do you feel is our team’s biggest strength? How can we improve as a team?
Interestingly, Gallup Leadership teaches leaders to improve by focusing on their strengths.
It may feel counterintuitive, but it works. Don’t turn a blind eye to problem areas, but start by focusing on your strengths. Ask your team to share what they perceive as the team’s biggest strength; you might be surprised by their answer.
Write each of the responses on a whiteboard and celebrate the fantastic strengths you already have as a team.
Then, follow up by asking how to improve as a team. Improve areas of weakness by leveraging your strengths.
What it accomplishes: It gives your team a morale boost by celebrating your strengths.
What are you reading right now? (Or what book have you wanted to read?)
This adult show-and-tell has the potential to open up deep conversations and reveal surprising things.
You may have never guessed your logical and data-driven coworker is a sucker for romance novels or that so many people are reading thought-provoking books.
Plus, it’s a great way to discover your next favorite author!
Use this question as an opportunity to learn from your teammates and enjoy the fun of the ensuing conversation.
Variations or follow-up questions can include:
- What do you love about it?
- Has it changed your perspective on anything?
- Are you learning anything new from reading it?
- Why should we read it?
- What’s on your reading list?
- What books have deeply impacted you?
- What has been your favorite book this year?
- What popular book do you think people shouldn’t bother reading?
- What kind of book do you like to read on vacation?
- What’s your favorite genre of books?
What it accomplishes: Offers a new perspective on what people are thinking about and is a fun way to build connection points.
What’s the difference between you and most other people?
This question allows people to share with vulnerability or get off with a laughable difference like having double joints. If people communicate openly and vulnerably, it can show the team they struggle with some of the same fears, doubts, and insecurities as the people they work with every day.
If you’d like to skew the answers to be more serious, be the first one to answer and share with vulnerability. As soon as one person is vulnerable, it usually gives others the courage to be more open.
What it accomplishes: Shows the team that others struggle with the same things as they do or shows the humanity of your coworkers.
What helps you when you’re stressed?
According to Mental Health America, four in five employees report that stress impacts their relationships (both at work and at home).
Talking about it can help. You and your coworkers can learn whether to give someone extra space, ask them to go for a walk or be available to talk it out. As a team, you can support the mental health of each person. That starts by learning what helps each person when stressed and then respecting that day-to-day.
What it accomplishes: Supports positive mental health and has the potential to reduce workplace stress.
What’s your A-work?
This is another self-awareness, team-awareness question. A person’s A-work is what they thrive at—someone could be a wizard at writing email campaigns, or another person might be amazing at giving presentations.
You could even watch this video on A, B, C, D, and F work as a team icebreaker:
Understanding how each person works and what they’re good at and then being willing to flex to each other can build trust and increase productivity. This one is all-hands-on-deck because it’ll give you a chance to find out what your teammates enjoy doing and are great. Like any interpersonal interaction, working together requires compromise and kindness.
What it accomplishes: Helps reduce miscommunication and increase productivity.
Describe the coworker sitting next to you with one positive word.
When people say something positive, it naturally boosts confidence and motivation.
If you have coworkers that don’t get along, this team building question helps them to think about something positive to say. That, in turn, can shift how they view the other person and help them maintain professionalism even in the face of clashing personalities.
What it accomplishes: Builds team rapport and encourages positive interactions.
Is there a charitable cause you support?
This is a great question to learn what your team cares about outside of work. Often, people support causes they have a personal connection with. If you feel it’s appropriate, follow up by asking why that cause is important to them.
If there is a common theme in the answers, ask your team if they’d like to have a volunteer day, do a team 5K, or some other activity to benefit the cause.
What it accomplishes: Learning what people care about helps build connections.
What was the best work advice you’ve ever received?
According to a study by Penn Today, sharing advice gives the adviser confidence in their abilities. Ultimately, if we believe we have something valuable to share with others, that improves our performance in that area.
Giving (or receiving) advice in a work setting can feel uncomfortable. The last thing you want is unsolicited advice from a coworker who seems to be gloating over you. This question removes that discomfort and any attempt at a power play. Everyone passes on the best advice that impacts how they show up at work. There is a level of vulnerability here, so affirm each piece of advice as it’s shared.
What it accomplishes: It makes your teammates feel like they have something valuable to contribute.
What was your best vacation?
This question is less about accomplishing a specific goal and more about team bonding through a story. Not only are vacation stories funny and inspiring, but just hearing about them is sure to erase stress as everyone listens and participates.
What it accomplishes: Lightens the mood and builds connection.
Non-Awkward Icebreakers to Build Connections With Your Team
Studies have shown that icebreaker questions like these improve your networking, bonding, and social skills. In this video, Vanessa shares eight icebreakers that are not boring, are easy to do, and help people quickly bond.
Don’t stop here! Check out our 35 Fun Meeting Icebreakers.