10 Answers to the Most Common RA Interview Questions

RA interview tips
Created by Cake

An RA is a particular position, and often RA interview questions reflect the uniqueness of the role. 

Resident assistants have a special opportunity to support students in a residence, and live where they work.

Resident assistants have a variety of responsibilities, like leading residence meetings, responding to students in crisis, and ensuring the rules of the residence are being followed and respected. They may have to fix a variety of problems and act as a point of contact for the students living there. All these things are likely to come up in a resident assistant interview.

Residence assistants encounter unique challenges that people at other jobs may not experience, which is reflected in the most common RA interview questions and answers.

RAs may work odd hours and they reside at their place of work. Because they are responsible for the safety and security of a large group of people, they need to be able to respond quickly to crises and solve problems diplomatically. Conflict resolution and interpersonal skills will therefore come up often in RA interview questions. 

While RA jobs can pose unique problems, the rewards of connecting with young people and making a difference can be well worth it. If you are considering a job as a residence assistant, the interview can be daunting. Because RAs have a lot of responsibility, schools can be selective in their hiring process and look for candidates that stand out.

The resident assistant interview process might seem hard, but there are some predictable and common RA interview questions, due to the unique needs of the job.

Why Interviewers Ask RA Interview Questions

In a resident assistant interview, the hiring manager is looking for a variety of soft skills, such as:

  • ability to work under stress
  • interpersonal skills
  • leadership skills
  • open-mindedness
  • organization skills

Much of the job involves communicating with students and acting as a go-between for residents and management. Common RA interview questions reflect the fact that the candidate can experience a lot of daily stress.

The demands of living in a group are bound to create some conflict between residents, and the RA is responsible for resolving these issues and looking for compromise. Frequent questions asked at an RA interview therefore tend to focus on interpersonal skills.

RAs should also demonstrate leadership skills and resident assistant interview questions might focus on this. Interviewers want to see that an applicant can take charge, guide people, and develop trust and rapport. A good RA will also be open-minded, as this will make them more approachable and ultimately help students to feel they can come to the RA with their issues and to confide in the RA. 

Common RA interview questions also address organization skills. RAs will juggle multiple people and events, and report to their superiors regularly. An RA must be organized to keep the residence life running smoothly and to support students effectively. In a resident assistant interview, an interviewer may want to see that an applicant can multitask well. 

Tips for Answering RA Interview Questions

✅ Read residence policy.

The best way to prepare for a resident assistant interview is to carefully read the policies for that residence. A clear idea of what the school and the residence won’t tolerate, as well as the kind of living environment they’re trying to maintain, will help you prepare for the RA interview questions. Read the policies to clarify things like cleanliness, quiet hours, and respectful behavior between students. 

✅ Prepare real-life examples of you demonstrating the required skills.

A good way to get ready for the RA position interview questions is to think about different life experiences you’ve had that are applicable to the role. Have you resolved a conflict, planned an event, fixed a problem?

Reflect on these experiences and think about how they can come up in both the RA interview questions and answers. These experiences should be professional, but you can also get more personal.

Frequent questions asked at an interview for an RA position involve skills like conflict resolution and time management, so by sharing anecdotes of times you used specific skills, you can provide context for your abilities during a resident assistant interview.

✅ Use the STAR method.

One way to answer RA interview questions is to use the STAR method.

STAR stands for:

  • S – Situation 
  • T – Task
  • A – Action
  • R – Result

When you describe an event during a resident assistant interview, start by giving clear context of the situation and be specific about what was happening. Next, explain your involvement in this specific task, and what needed to be done. Then, describe the action you took. Finally, provide detail about the outcome of the situation, and be sure to emphasize the benefits of that outcome.

Using the STAR method to respond to common RA interview questions will help you paint a clear picture of the situation and your involvement.

✅ Be honest and authentic.

During the resident assistant interview, it’s important to be your authentic self. Honesty and personality can go a long way in this interview. So much of an RA’s job involves people skills, and the RA interview questions are a chance to show that you are relatable and genuine. 

✅ Ask others for their insights.

Another way to prepare for the resident assistant interview is to ask your friends how you personally would make a good RA. This is an opportunity to learn more about how people see you and what specific interpersonal skills you have. You can use their answers to respond to the RA interview questions.

Common RA Interview Questions and Answers

There are questions that are very likely to come up in a resident assistant interview. It’s good to think critically about what the interviewer may be looking for. Here are some sample RA interview questions you might be asked. 

💭 Why do you want to be an RA?

This common RA interview question is an opportunity to talk about the kind of living environment you want to provide in your residence building. When this comes up in a resident assistant interview, you can discuss the kind of community you want to build and be a part of.

A: I remember my first year at school was a little lonely, especially living away from home for the first time. I really wanted a friend to help guide me through my freshman experience, someone I could confide in. I want to be an RA so I can be that person for someone else and make a real impact.

💭 How will you balance school and your responsibilities as an RA?

This type of RA interview question is about your time management skills. It might help to bring up a time when you were juggling different projects and responsibilities.

A: In the years that I’ve been a student here, I’ve had to manage a full schedule and learn to prioritize many responsibilities. I’ve maintained my GPA in addition to working, balancing time with my family and friends, as well as helping run the campus toastmasters club every week. I think the experiences I’ve had managing my student life will directly help me to balance my responsibility as an RA.

💭 How do you think people would describe you?

This is a common RA interview question and a great chance to elaborate on your interpersonal and leadership skills. You could even use the STAR method to help answer this resident assistant interview question.

A: Most people would describe me as candid and kind. One bit of feedback I get a lot from the students I tutor is that I’m direct and honest, and one of my students even thanked me for being patient and helping her feel at ease whenever she’s struggling with new concepts.

💭 What does community mean to you?

If you are asked this common RA interview question, the interviewer is likely looking for more than a basic definition of community, or people living together. Talk about shared goals, life stages, and interests.

A: I think a community is full of people from different backgrounds who might have similar values and goals. They’re co-existing while trying to make the most of their experience.

💭 What do you think is the most important quality for an RA to have? 

Before your resident assistant interview, think about the kind of qualities a good RA might possess. Your answer to this RA interview question might depend on your research into the residence, and the kind of values they appreciate.

A: I think a good RA should be genuine and kind. They need strong interpersonal skills, like open-mindedness and approachability. So much of their role is interacting with people and resolving conflict, so those skills are necessary.

💭 Tell me about a time you’ve led a project or activity.

There are a lot of things you can use to answer this RA interview question. Have you ever led a group project? Planned a surprise for someone special? Any situation that called for your leadership can be useful in a resident assistant interview.

A: I recently decided to raise funds for a charity walk, which called for me to solicit donations from my fellow classmates as well as seeking corporate sponsorships. I’m proud of how much I was able to raise on my own initiative!

💭 What kind of relationship would you like to have with your residents as an RA?

This is likely to be one of your RA interview questions because it shows you’ve thought about your goals.

A: The most important thing is for students to feel they can approach me with any problem. I’d want to have an honest and open relationship with them, where they can feel safe confiding in me or asking for help.

💭 Tell me about a time you resolved a conflict in your life.

This is a fair resident assistant interview question since conflicts are going to be common in residence. Remember to use the STAR method when answering this RA interview question.

A: There was a problem between two of my co-workers recently, when one of them felt the other wasn’t pulling their weight. I thought this argument had the potential to create a toxic work environment, so I spoke to them. I ended up mediating a conversation where they both admitted they did a lot for each other at work. After we talked, the tension really lifted, and I felt like I contributed to a healthier work culture.

💭 What kind of situations make you angry and how do you handle it?

For this common RA interview question, don’t provide a list of your pet peeves, but pick one thing you can elaborate on. Make sure you emphasize how you manage your emotions and stay calm. 

A: Something that makes me angry is when people don’t tell the truth. In my experience it’s not because they’re inherently dishonest, but they may not have all the facts, or they could be dealing with shame. I find it helps me in those moments to remember their humanity, so I don’t judge too harshly. I breathe and talk myself through it, as with any emotion.

💭 How would you approach a student who has had multiple noise complaints?

There will likely be several resident assistant scenario questions during your interview. RA interview scenario questions are a good way to show how you can handle different situations.

A: I’d sit down and talk to them about the complaints, without naming names. I’d first want to get to the bottom of what’s happened, as there’s always two sides to every story. After hearing their side, I’d remind them of the rules for quiet times, and discuss the consequences for their next breach of rules. If they end up repeating their behavior, I would escalate it to the residence manager.  

Questions to Ask in an RA Interview

Interviewees who have questions to ask at the end of an RA interview show that they are engaged and interested. Often interviewers will leave a space for your questions because they want to see that you are already thinking critically about the role and how you fit in. Preparing some questions to ask at the end of an RA interview will help you stand out and show that you’re serious about this position. 

Here are a few questions to ask an RA interviewer to show your interest in the position.

💡 What is the most important quality you are looking for in an RA?

This is a good question to ask during an RA interview because it shows you are considering how you might be a good fit with their values.

💡 What is the most challenging part of the job?

Another good question to ask an RA interviewer is what incidents are most common and what, in their view, is the hardest part. Asking this during a resident assistant interview shows you’re thinking carefully about whether you can handle the unique challenges of the job. 

💡 What kind of living environment are you trying to create?

The heart of most RA interview questions and answers is about the living environment since the RA is directly responsible for creating it. Do they want residents relaxed and happier? Do they want a quiet place for study-oriented students? Are they strict with rules and consequences? This is a great question to ask an RA interviewer because it demonstrates that you’re conscious of your role in the residence. 

🔑 Key Takeaways

A little preparation can go a long way when answering RA interview questions. Research the residence policies and prepare some answers to the most common RA interview questions. Reflect on your life experience and unique skills, and how they relate to the RA position. 

Having a few good questions to ask at the end of an RA interview can let the interviewers know you are serious about the position. The resident assistant position is a unique and exciting opportunity and well worth the effort during the hiring process. 

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--- Originally written by Tiffany Quinn ---

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