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RA Interview Tips

The Resident Advisor position is a great opportunity to get involved on campus, help your fellow students, and get practical leadership experience for your resume. 

We want you to succeed in the job! If you are applying for one of our RA positions, use the following tips to help you through our process.

About our process

The RA position requires a paper application, as well as an individual and group interview process. 

Individual interviews are conducted with the applicant and members of the Residence Life professional staff (Residence Directors, also known as RDs). In these interviews, our RDs will ask you questions about your skills, experiences, and what you can bring to our team. It is important to consider why you are applying, and to self-evaluate your strengths, areas for improvement, and skills. 

Group process is a time where multiple applicants will go through activities in a group while the RD staff and current RAs watch. We are looking for how you are in a group setting and working with others.

RA Interview Tips

 

BEFORE THE INTERVIEW

Research the Position. Research the position and even the Office of Residence Life. Talk to current RAs from different buildings to find out their opinions of the position. Gathering more than one opinion can help you see different sides of the job. Additionally, by talking to RAs from different buildings, you will gain knowledge of buildings other than the one(s) you may have lived in. It may be worthwhile to check out the Residence Life website as well since that will be the department for which you would be employed.

Attend an Info Session. Learn all you can about the job you want. 

Be Prepared. Make sure you know the location of your interview before your actual interview time. Make sure you aren’t late!

Practice your Answers. Practice your answers to a variety of questions. Begin by preparing your 60-second personal statement: Your answer to the “Tell me about yourself” question. Write at least five success stories to answer behavioral interview questions. Typical behavior-based questions focus on understanding a specific situation or challenge that you have faced that will demonstrate a particular quality or skill that is relevant to the position. To maximize the effectiveness of your answers, try using the STAR system:

S = Describe a Situation
T = Talk about the Task
A = Explain the Action you took
R = Talk about the positive Results

Be Honest. When responding to questions, answer as directly and honestly as possible. Don’t tell the interviewer what you think they want to hear. Instead, think back to your preparation and use answers that sell your skills. The most important thing is to be yourself and focus on positive qualities. Never apologize for your lack of anything. Another important point is to be sure that for every answer you give, you back up everything you say with examples. If you talk quickly, count to 3 before answering questions right away. Take a couple seconds to think about what you are going to say so your response is accurate and appropriate. You don’t want your answers to sound canned; be thoughtful about your replies.

Attire. Since the interview is a formal interview, you should dress accordingly. While we don’t expect that you wear a full suit, jeans, t-shirts, and pajamas are not going to impress us. Remember that what you are wearing helps to determine our first impression of you. Dress for success by spending time on your appearance.

DURING THE INTERVIEW

First Impressions matter! Make a great first impression:

  • Arrive early – about 5-10 minutes before your appointment
  • Review your prepared stories and answers
  • Stand and greet your interviewers with a hearty (not bone crushing) handshake
  • Smile and look into the interviewer’s eyes

Question Time Tips:

  • Try to focus on the points you have prepared without sounding rehearsed or stiff
  • Be yourself! Relax and enjoy the conversation 
  • Don’t rush into providing an interviewer with a quick answer. Take your time to consider the question and present an insightful response.
  • Feel free to take notes if you wish.
  • Ask the questions that you have prepared and learn what you can about the position
  • At the conclusion, thank the interviewers and determine the next steps.

AFTER THE INTERVIEW

Wrap-up. Have a plan for summarizing your thoughts, skills and interest level regarding the opportunity. Of course, don’t forget to obtain the interviewer’s contact information for follow-up questions and a thank-you note.

Thank-You Note. 
A thank-you note/email is your opportunity to distinguish yourself from other candidates, so capitalize on it! It’s acceptable to have certain portions of the letter in a standard or template format, but try to customize each note to include information that was unique to the interview discussion. This will convey a high level of interest and knowledge about the position.

 

For more general interview tips, see the interview and offer resources on the Career Services page.