There are a number of things that you can do to prepare
for your interview.
First you should talk to your RA and maybe a couple
others and ask them about their jobs and what they actually
do. Ask what they like best and least about being
a housing employee. Ask what they found out about
the job that they wish they knew before they applied.
See if he/she has a list of expectations or of responsibilities.
Most schools provide this to their staffs and many include
it with their application material.
Second, you want to be yourself at the interview.
There is not an "RA Type". If you try
to be something that you are not, your interviewers
may get a sense that you are hiding something. Be honest
about why you want the job and think about what you
would do differently and what you may do the same as
RA's you have had. I have hired so many different personality
that I can't even count them. Quiet students can be
good RA's and enthusiastic and up-beat and goofy and
serious. In general, student staffs should
represent the students in the hall. A staff member must
be responsible and accountable, honest, respectful and
open to diverse peoples.
Think about the challenges that all housing staff have
like--RA's live in a fish bowl, people notice what they
Think about how you will study effectively
Think about what time commitments you will have next
Think about what the halls would be like with out student
4. Be prepared to ask the people interviewing you a
question or two. Even if you just ask what was the best
event/program you organized or what was the toughest
thing for them their first semester as an RA. Be specific
with questions if you have them.
5. Remember that the interview is not the time to say
your current RA is not living up to your expections.
Being negative about the residence life program or of
current staff at an interview will not help you get
hired. This will hold true in any interview.
6. The RA job is the best job I ever had. I learned
more about me then I ever thought I could. Working for
housing as a student will help you discover where your
strengths and weakness are, but will also afford you
the opportunity to work on those weakness in a supportive
environment. It is time consuming, but worth it!
7. Don't give up! I wasn't hired as an RA my first
time. After that I reapplied and was housing staff at
the University of Florida for 2 years. Now I am in my
4th year as a Residence Life Professional and I have
supervised over 20 RA's, CA's, CM's and RM's.
Hope this helped! Holly Habicht, RLC Georgia Tech
campus handles interviews different, so it would be
difficult to say what they might ask. I would
encourage you to think about it differently. Instead,
what is you want people to know about you. That
is something you have control over and if you know
confidently what you want people to know, the questions
they ask you will be responded in a manner that you
get them to know you!
Talk about what you have seen on campus you might
change, compliment on the things which you have enjoyed,
(people don't want to know all your criticism without
seeing you like something they do) and what is your
passion. I have never seen an RA candidate with
passion, not aggression, passion, not get the position.
You need to talk about how you care about people and
your work ethic and your ability to role model.
If you can, I'm confident you will get the job.
Good people who are passionate and care about others
are great RAs. I can't teach people to care
about others, but I can teach them how to program,
deal with difficult people and handle crisis situations.
Every campus is different so much of what I am speaking
about is form my own experience. We at Syracuse
University are looking for student leaders who can
engage others in conversation. We have de-emphasized
the role of authoritarian, so if your campus is in
that similar vein, you will do just great!
Don't hesitate to e-mail me should you have any questions.
My humble opinion - Tom Ellett - Director of Residence
Life - Syracuse University firstname.lastname@example.org
love to see students who take such an active role
in being a leader on campus. Those are the type of
people who make a difference. I think that generally
RAs are hired for their personal characteristics more
so than their ideas for change. Ideas for change are
good. They are needed. But they are not what makes
a good RA. Good RAs are ones that connect with their
residents and help their residents grow. In fact,
your ideas for change may accomplish this. What I
tell everyone who is asking for advice for RA interviews
is to be yourself. Be honest. I always wanted honest
RAs working for me when I was a hall director. I didn't
want an RA who "put on a face" for an interview.
These type of people are not genuine and make awful
RAs. They are not trusted nor respected by their residents.
I think that you have to also understand yourself.
In order to
help others, you need to be aware of your strengths
weaknesses and "baggage."
Here are a
list of characteristics that most people look for
when hiring RAs:
(but not arrogance or conceit)
to lead groups and individuals
to embrace people different from you
to work well in a group
to think critically
to connect with others (this doesn't necessarily
mean that you are a charismatic, outgoing person
- quiet people make good RAs too)
I think in
an interview you will need to demonstrate how you
are these things. If there are things you are lacking
in state that. When I first applied for an RA position
I said that I had no weaknesses. Now when a candidate
tells me that I think that they are lying or he/she
is not very aware of him/herself. Nobody is perfect.
The closest thing to perfect is someone who is continually
trying to improve him/herself. Here are general questions
you can expect to get in this interview and in other
interviews as well:
- What are
- What are
- How have
you/or would you handle a crisis?
- What three
adjectives would your best friend use to describe
- What three
adjectives would your worst enemy use to describe
- What people
annoy you? How do you deal with them?
a situation in which you were a leader? What was
difficul about that situation?
a situation in which you had to make an unpopular
- What college/university
policy would you change and why?
- What are
the characteristics you think make a successful
Keep in mind
this is only a sample of possible questions. But if
you are aware of yourself and understand the job,
you should be able to answer any question well. If
you are asked a question about which you have no experience,
think about how you would deal with it. Also remember
that if you do not get the job next year, there is
always the year after. I applied to be an RA for my
sophomore year and I didn't get a job. I thought I
would make a fantastic RA. I didn't get mad and give
up (well I got mad for a little bit). I went for feedback
on the interview process (I would strongly encourage
this) and I was told that I didn't have enought "experience."
I thougth that was a little vague and I didn't think
it was totally applicable to being an RA. But instead
of dismissing the feedback I took what I could from
it. I got invovled with the Admissions office in a
variety of capacities and also got involved with summer
orientation. I then applied for the job for my senior
year. I got a job with overwhelming support. I also
thought that I was a better RA for the experience
that I had gained during my sophomore and junior years.
If you have any other questions feel free to contact
Good Luck! - Gavin Henning, Research Associate - Division
of Student Affairs - University of New Hampshire
most important thing to do is be yourself! There is
no prototype for the RA position so it takes all types
people. I would suggest doing mock interviews with
someone that is familiar with the RA position. I would
also suggest bouncing your off that person. Good luck.
p.s. Make sure your application is completed in a
Tim Stockton - Associate Director for Apartment Housing
- Indiana University
I am not going to list questions that you may be asked
because I have no idea what our University might want
to know from you. However I would give you some
Some candidates come into RA interviews TOO PREPARED.
They know everything (or so they think) and it makes
them look bad. Obviously you would like to be
an RA so I would not overprepare. However there
are some things you should think about.
1. What types of things do you see current RAs
doing at your institution? What types of things
does the department seem to emphasize? (i.e.
programming, diversity, student success, etc.)
2. With these things in mind, turn it around
and think of what types of questions they may formulate
to find out how you fit into their departmental values.
(i.e. if diversity is a big thing that you notice
in the department...a question they might ask is what
experiences have you had with people who are different
3. The other part is to begin thinking about
what your floor would look like...what types of programs
would you want to have, how do you build community,
how do you enforce policy. With a lot of self
reflection you will begin to understand what types
of things they may want to know from you.
4. Finally, remain calm and relaxed and don't
oversell yourself. They will find the people
that really fit into the position. You seem
to be on the right track. Good luck
If you have any other questions, please drop me a
- Assistant Director of Residential Life for Student
Development - Indiana State University
best advice is to be yourself! Emphasize the
skills that you have and recognize what you can gain
from the experience.
As a person who interviews RAs, the candidates that
usually stick out in my mind are the ones who have
done their homework and know what they're getting
into and also recognize the impact that it will have
on their lifestyle (time management, involvement,
balancing academics, etc).
Knowing the benefits that will out-weigh compensation
(because we all know RAs don't get paid enough for
all that they do! :) ) is something that I also like
I don't look for the "perfect person" for
positions. I think it's important that the person
has things they can learn. However, I have to
feel comfortable that the person has some self-direction
and initiative. I have to feel confident that
the candidate can fucntion independently and that
I won't have to "be on them" all of the
I also know that everyone has different things they
can offer...and that's how I pick my staff.
I really try to match up people who will round out
my staff and have a variety of perspectives.
I look at the RA position as a big learning experience,
rather than just a job.
I hope this helps in some way. Best as you go
through the process!! Just remember that even
if you aren't offered a position this year, stick
with it! Stay involved and learn from the process.
It's a great opportunity to know what you're getting
yourself into. And next year you could talk
about how much you've changed and grown.
Best of luck...and it sounds like you're doing some
great research into the job by starting at ResidentAssistant.Com
(Isn't Dan's creation a good one??)
Steve Crudup - Resident Director, O'Connor Hall -
Dickinson Community - Binghamton University
as a resident is the thing that sticks out to me the
most. When residents have made an effort to be involved
in campus activities and especially activities in
the residence halls, that makes me look twice at a
candidate. The resident who always seems to be at
programming board activities, their floor and hall
programs, etc., is the resident who sticks out in
the crowd. Friendliness is also another big area.
While I can't see every interaction someone has with
others, if the interactions I see outside of the interview
are positive and friendly, that makes me more likely
to want someone on my staff. While everyone has bad
days, we like to have people on staff who can be friendly
and sociable even when they don't quite feel like
it since residents might need their RA even when the
RA doesn't feel like being needed.
only thing I would add to these great comments is
be aware of the position. When a potential candidate
asked me this question, it led to me writing "The
ABCs for RAs." Take a few minutes to read
it over, as it may give you some good perspective.