Speed dating: Best questions to ask when you've got mere minutes

Couple smiling over drinks in bar to portray speed dating (Getty Images)
With speed dating, it's all about cutting to the chase quickly. (Getty Images)

As we continue to make the most of life post-lockdown, speed dating has seen a surge in popularity. In fact, according to Eventbrite, there were double the number of speed dating events listed on its site this summer, compared to two years ago, pre-pandemic.

But how on earth do you make a good impression when there's barely time to say hello?

To avoid toe-curling conversation-killers, we asked the experts for their best ice-breaker questions, when you only have mere minutes.

Best questions to ask when speed dating

Have you been to an event like this before, and what are you looking for?

“This is a good way of finding out whether someone is genuine in their search,” says Karen Mooney, Founder of Sara Eden Introductions, the dating and matchmaking agency. “But the, ‘Have you been to an event like this before?’ bit is a softer way in.”

“Sometimes people are just looking for a bit of fun, which is great if you are too, but it will help you filter those people out, if you’re looking for something more serious.”

Alternatively, Rachael Lloyd, relationship expert for dating app eharmony, suggests repackaging this question as, ‘What are your relationship goals?’ “It’s best to be clear from the outset if you share the same ones,” she says.

Read more: 'Online dating is lethal for the soul,' says author who has vowed never to do it again

What do you do for a living?

“It's a good conversation-starter, even if it's not the most original of questions,” says Mooney. "From here, you can find out other things, such as what their passions are, whether they live to work or work to live, what their work/life balance is like etc (which in turn tells you more about someone’s life values).”

Couple drinking wine in a hotel bar
The classic job question is a good conversation-starter. (Getty Images)

How did you spend last Christmas?

“This can give insights into their family values and whether they’re socially minded or prefer time alone,” says Lloyd.

Let’s face it, if you’re a huge family person who loves a big knees-up with your 25 cousins at Christmas, and they prefer to get on a plane to the Maldives to avoid everyone, it might be best to nip that in the bud.

Read more: What is cuffing season? Plus other winter dating trends

When was your last relationship and why did it end?

One of the great things about speed dating is that you are expected – in fact it is positively encouraged – to get straight to the nitty gritty.

“So make the most of your three minutes with a searching question like this," says Mooney. "You can find out a lot about someone’s communication style and general temperament by asking questions about their relationship history.”

While a question like this would seem way too forward on a 'normal' first date, with speed dating, it's more acceptable to jump straight into the juicier questions.

Two women in bar smiling (Getty Images)
With speed dating, it's acceptable to ask even quite nosy questions. (Getty Images)

Read more: Guildford tops list of UK destinations where married couples are most likely to cheat

What’s the best thing that's happened to you this week?

“If you find yourself starting every date off with, 'How’s things?' then this more specific question is the perfect way to break the ice,” says Pippa Murphy, sex and relationship expert at Condoms.uk.

“As the question is quite broad, how your date responds will help you uncover whether they’re a positive person or not. For example, if they pick something small as the ‘best’ thing, then you know they appreciate the smaller things in life.

"However, if they struggle to think of an answer, then this suggests that they may be more of a glass-half-empty sort. However they answer, you’ll get an insight into their current life and whether it’s something you could imagine yourself slotting into further down the line.”

Couple on date in bar (Getty Images)
Our experts suggest a question to see if they're an optimist or a pessimist. (Getty Images)

What do you spend most of your money on?

Another juicy question, that you could only really get away with in a speed dating setting, so make the most of it! “This gives important clues about fiscal responsibility, as well as interests,” says Lloyd. “Many couples have big conflicts around money, which you want to avoid.”

What is a quality you pride yourself on having?

“This gives you an insight into who they are at a deeper level,” says relationship and dating coach Sami Wunder. It’s an opportunity for them to showcase the best of themselves, she says, and “a great question as it will make the person audition for you and peacock their best qualities.”

Read more: How to tell if someone fancies you

Who did you see for your first concert?

“This is the perfect speed date question for two reasons,” says Murphy. “Firstly, it’s nostalgic so will remind you of happy memories and therefore encourage a positive conversation. On top of this, music taste is a personal thing, so could even lead to the conversation being playful if the person teases you about who you saw for your first concert.” After all, speed dating is meant to be fun, not a job interview!