I’m trying to formulate the perfect wording of that first question, when you meet someone for the first time, that most accurately and efficiently helps draw out the salient aspects of their personality. The perfect first question should be intriguing, and allow people to answer accurately without sounding overly pretentious or intimidating.
“What do you do?” seems like the most common first question but I don’t like it because it’s too career focused. For people whose passions lie outside of their careers, you can often be stuck discussing a job they don’t enjoy.
“What are your hobbies?” and “What do you like doing” suffer from the opposite problem that it doesn’t feel appropriate to bring up work as an answer to it. I know a lot of people who’s passion is work and they struggle to really answer it because they have no real hobbies outside of it.
“What are you interested in?” is somewhat better. “What are you passionate about?” can be good but people can sometimes be reluctant to label anything they’re doing a passion.
“Tell me something interesting you’ve learned in the past week?” is occasionally really illuminating but it puts people on the spot and can be hard to answer.
“What makes life worth living for you?” can seem way too intense and soul-searchy.
“How would you describe yourself?” can make people too self conscious.
“What do you spend most of your time thinking about?” works really well for people with intellectual pursuits but doesn’t work well when their personality is geared more towards action than thoughts.
Currently, I’ve settled on “What keeps you interested, day to day?”. It’s got a good blend of being off the wall enough that people think about it carefully but easy enough to answer that people readily admit to a wide range of things. It’s a little bit pretentious but it’s pretty good, overall.
What have other people experimented with, with first questions? Have you found any awesome ones?