It’s never easy coming to a new school. You do not know anyone, have no idea how things work down there, and struggle to find your way around the campus. Everything is ten times easier when someone welcomes you with a smile on their face, and show you around the facilities.

That will exactly be your role as an orientation leader. You will help first year and transfer students getting around the campus, and understanding how things work. You’ll be someone they can rely on and call to during the first weeks, when facing any doubts or questions about the campus life.

The role is a great opportunity to get to know new students, and give something back to the campus community. You will also earn your first working experience, something you can put on your resume. It’s not a “real job”, but it is definitely better than nothing when it comes to interviews for “real” jobs

Let’s have a look at questions you may face while interviewing for this interesting position (either in a group interview, or in a panel interview).


Can you please tell us something about yourself?

This is an icebreaker question, and you shouldn’t be too concerned about the content of your answer. Just narrate what matters to you in life–be it education, your extracurricular activities, your family, whatever.

They observe mostly your communication & interpersonal skills when you answer this question. Do you articulate clearly? Can they understand you? Do you talk to the point? Is there some positive energy, some enthusiasm in your voice? Do you keep an eye contact, and have a positive body language overall?

As long as they see it is easy talking to you, and first year students will understand you, you have made a good introduction in this interview.


Why do you want to work as an Orientation Leader?

In your answer you should find a good balance between what you expect from the role, and what you want to give back to the community. It is important to show them also some selfless reasons for your application.

Earning money goes without saying, though you won’t earn more than you’d earn flipping burgers at McDonald’s, or frying chickens at KFC. But you can say that you’d love to improve your social skills, get to know new students, and also play some active part in the campus life.

What’s more, since you believe to be a good listener, and know how stressful it can be to come to a new school, not knowing anyone, you see the meaningful purpose in this work, and it motivates you to apply.

Alternatively you can narrate an experience you had with your orientation leader as a first year or transfer student. They helped you a lot, and the experience motivated you to apply for the position. It’s time to pay back the favor…

Do you have any commitments during the summer, such as a part time job, summer classes, etc?

You should give this position your first priority. At the same time, however, it’s fine to have a plan B. You can say that you understand that a work of an orientation leader will take up almost all your free time, and hence you haven’t applied for any other jobs or classes yet. This is your first priority.

But you also understand that many people apply. If you do not get a chance to be one of the orientation leaders, you will definitely try to get a part time job or enroll in the summer classes. Show them that you are an active person, and do not plan to spend the entire summer clubbing and drinking–if they do not choose you for this position.


In your opinion, what characterize a great orientation leader?

I’d say that you should give the utmost importance to listening skills. Good orientation leaders try to understand each new student, before doing anything else with them. What are their expectations, worries, questions?

You can also put emphasis on an excellent knowledge of the campus, facilities, curriculum, and everything else that belongs to the student life.

Friendly and welcoming attitude, and flexibility (in terms of working hours for example) is also important. Last but not least, they should see the meaningful purpose in their job, which will ultimately reflect in everything they say and do, in a way they approach their job.


A new student asks you something you aren’t 100% sure about. What will you do?

You will have your leader, someone you can contact when you won’t be sure. And you should not improvise in this job. Giving a false information to the student can easily backfire in the future.

Say that if you aren’t sure, you’ll honestly admit it. At the end of the day you are no God, you do not know everything, and also you can make a mistake. So you will say that you are not sure. But it is not the end of the story. You will try to find out the answer, contacting either your leaders, or one of your colleagues.

The key is to show that you will try to go above and beyond for the students, and that you are a team player. You do not mind receiving calls from your colleagues, and are humble enough to call someone and ask for help, when you aren’t sure about your answers.

* May also interest you: Student Assistant interview questions.


5 other questions you may face while interviewing for a position of an orientation leader

  • Do you have any preference when it comes to gender, ethnicity, religion, or anything else about the students you will work with?
  • Tell us about a time when you demonstrated leadership in your daily life.
  • If you should characterize our college to a new students with three words only, what characteristics would you pick?
  • What does diversity mean to you?
  • What do you consider the most difficult aspect of this job?
  • Why should we choose you, and not one of the many other applicants for this position?


Right attire for your Orientation Leader job interview

Orientation leaders are often the first point of contact for the newcomers. More than anything else, you will represent the college–with your words, behavior, and also with your attire.

Once you are interviewing for the position, you should clearly demonstrate that you understand the importance of your role. That’s why you should opt for business casual, or even semi-formal attire. Short skirt is a no-go, and so is a shirt with a logo of your favorite baseball team…

Dress nicely, dress to represent. Because that’s exactly what they expect from you in your work of an orientation leader. It goes without saying that if students wear uniform at your school, you should come to the interview also in the uniform…


Conclusion, next steps

Interview for a job of an orientation leader at school belongs to tricky interviews. The questions may seem easy, but you should realize that they observe a lot more than just your answers–how you act, what you wear, whether you keep an eye contact, your communication and listening skills. It would be a mistake to underestimate this interview.

What’s more, orientation leader belongs to popular college jobs, and the number of applicants often exceeds the number of open spots in a ratio of three to one.

Try to prepare as well as you can. Learn a lot about the campus, and think about all typical questions a newcomer can have–about the studies, dining, dormitory, campus life, anything. Can you answer all of them? You should be ready to do so, ideally already before the start of your interview.

Focus also on your non-verbal communication, and dress to represent. If you do everything right, you should succeed, and become one of the new orientation leaders for the upcoming summer. I wish you good luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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