Speed dating is a great way to take the pressure off meeting new people. Instead of looking for empty ring fingers at the bar, you’re provided a stream of singles looking for the same thing you are: the one. But you’ve only got a couple of minutes. And if that wasn’t enough, a study shows that 45% of women and 22% of men make their decision within the first 30 seconds of sitting down. Don’t think of it as a first date, think of it as a first impression. So you have to make it count, because as we all know, first impressions are everything. It’s not the time to ask about their deepest fears or how many kids they want to have. It’s about compatibility. And the best way to find that is with the right questions.


The same study showed that asking the right questions was paramount in clinching the first date. What didn’t work? Asking about movies. It seems like a safe bet, but finding out their feelings about the latest Hunger Games film is about as helpful in finding a potential partner as knowing their favorite color. What did work? Asking about travel. But what exactly should you ask? What’s the perfect question that reveals more about the person on the other side of the table without scaring them off when the time’s up? To help you out next time you’re faced with a room full of singles and only 30 seconds to grab their attention, I’ve come up with a few good questions to ask.


Have you traveled anywhere interesting recently?

While movies didn’t make the cut, asking about travel got the best response. Asking about travel gives you the opportunity to find out about their interests and opens up a great dialogue about food, music, hobbies, and potential destinations for the future.


Where’s your favorite place to eat?

Let’s face it, we stopped having a favorite food when we were ten. The fastest way to bring a conversation to a halt is making the other person rack their brain for an answer they don’t have. But asking about a specific restaurant is a great way to find out what they like while opening the conversation and letting them know you’re interested in trying new things.


Where do you see yourself in five years?

It’s important to let them know you’re in it beyond next weekend. And their answer can give you a good idea of what they want out of life. Maybe they’re ambitious and see themselves at the top at the office, maybe they see themselves with kids and a white picket fence. It’s a good indication of your compatibility. Asking about their past seems like a safe bet, but it can bring up recent break-ups or painful memories. If it works out, you’ll have plenty of time to find out about their past.


Do you have anything fun planned coming up?

Again, look to the future. Not only is this a good way to find out more about the person, but it gives the impression that you’re forward-thinking and a good bet down the line. Asking about plans allows them to share their interests while finding out what activities they find fun.


Where’s one place you want to visit?

Asking about travel and the future? Now there’s a winning combination. We all have the one place we long to visit, and there’s no better time to bring it up when one-on-one with a potential partner. You’ll not only win points showing interest in their plans, but you’re placing yourself in those plans just by asking. Plus, maybe you’ve already been there and can entice them into a date where you can talk about it further.


What’s something important you accomplished at work recently?

Simply asking what they do for a living is tedious and they’ve likely answered that question a dozen times already. Instead, you can find out what they do while giving them a chance to do a little bragging.


You might not have enough time to get all these questions in, but they should give you an indication of where to direct the conversation. If you happen to forget all of them in the heat of the moment, remember these three rules:


1. Instead of asking about the past, ask about the future.

2. Be original. Asking the same question as everyone else is a sure way to be forgotten.

3. It’s not a date, it’s a first impression. So have fun!