Here's something you don't realize until you're the one conducting an interview instead of being interviewed: It can be just as nerve-wracking for the interviewer. You need to prepare just as much to interview someone as you did when you were on the other side of the table, starting with knowing the job description inside and out as well as having a non-biased perspective of your company culture. You need to know how to look below the surface and hire based on the best candidate, not whom you personally mesh best with.
Many first-time interviewers might grab an old copy of the same old questions and answers from HR or print one off from the Internet. While this might get you the occasional "good" question, the reality is that there are no rules for which questions you need to ask (or not). Tailor your questions based on the vacancy, and don't be afraid to color outside the lines.
Here are some genuine interview questions asked by real employers, and how the answers can tell you more about a candidate than the staple "Tell me about yourself" starter.
1. How did you prepare for this interview?
Instead of trying to figure out how candidates prepared, by asking things like, "Tell me what you know about our company" (which can feel like a test), start with this basic question that has no right or wrong answers. It's easy to tell when people are making things up, and it's also easy to tell when they're being genuine. You can also gauge their organization, research, and preparation skills here.
2. Tell me a joke.
This one can be horrific for interviewees, but it can also lighten the mood and even truly break the ice. As an interviewee, you should always have a clean joke or two on hand to bust out in polite company. Even if some candidates can't come up with a joke, how they handle it can tell you a lot about how they work under pressure.
3. What do you remember from the job description?
Don't ask how a person's skills match the job description, but instead be straightforward and simply ask her to tick off what she remembers from the posting. This is a judge of how closely she looked at the posting, whether or not she prepared for the interview, and, of course, memory skills. You can follow up by asking how she meets the skill requirements, but a refresher can help with the segue.
4. What can your hobbies and interests tell me about your skills as an XYZ?
This doesn't just clue you into what your candidates are interested in (and how they may fit within the company culture) but it's also a more fun and creative way to see how they think and view their translatable skills. For example, maybe someone plays on a field hockey team on the weekends and she's applying for an HR position--working as a team, competitiveness, and not being afraid to play hard are all great HR skills.
Don't settle for the same old, boring questions. Get creative, and you'll be surprised by what you find.