Why do you want to become a RA?

Most students apply because they want to get free meals, accommodation and stipend. Or they like the RA role because it offers an easy way of blending into the community, and getting to know other students, making connection and friends. But you should rather say that you want the position to give something back to the community, that you feel like representing the students, and helping them.

You can also say that you try to learn the basic working habits while studying, and that the RA position is perfect for building a sense for responsibility–something you will benefit from later, as an employee. At the end of the day, you can hardly get a normal job now, and you have to start somewhere, and it will be nice to have something on your resume.

Sample answer:

I see the position of an RA as a great way to give something back to this community, the community that has given me so much during the first three years at this school. On the top of that, I believe to have the skills and the time for this role, that students won’t have problems reaching me anytime they need me. In general I spend most of my time either at school or at this dorm. Last but not least, working as an RA gives me an opportunity to learn some basic working habits, something I will no doubt benefit later on, in my professional career.


Why do you think you can be a good resident assistant?

Tell them that you have a good understanding for the ins and outs of life at the dormitory. You can also say that you believe to have the right personality for the position, and good communication skills, and an ability to work independently.

Alternatively you can say that you have read the job description carefully, and believe to be a perfect match for the job. One way or another, try to speak with enthusiasm and confidence, so they feel that you really believe to have all it takes to work as an RA, and to do a good job…

Sample answer:

I would say that I have right personality for the job. People consider me a good listener, I am someone responsible, someone others can rely on, and I also have good attention to detail. On the top of that, I am really motivated to have this job. And as they rightly say, with relatively simple jobs (RA no doubt falls within the group), your attitude matters more than anything else. What’s more, my sister worked as an RA for two years, so I know from her what it takes to do the job, and feel ready to handle it.


How do you imagine your typical week, from the position of a resident assistant?

Try to show them that you plan to actively help with social, academic, and personal adjustment of students to the residence hall and University.

The key is to simply show that you won’t just wait for a phone call, or a knock on the door of your room. Say that you will participate in the weekly staff meetings, ask students for feedback and ideas for improvement, design decorations, help with organizing events, be always available on the phone, etc.

Sample answer:

My idea is to talk to people. I want to have a proactive approach to this role. Participation in weekly staff meetings and any events taking place in the dormitory, or related to the dormitory, goes without saying. Of course, I also want to help with decorations and basically with running this place smoothly. Last but not least, I want my phone number and room number to be visible in the entrance hall, in the dining room, and at other places, so students always know how to reach me.

* Do not forget to check also: What are your weaknesses? Check 7 sample answers to the dreaded interview question.


What is the most difficult aspect of working as RA, from your point of view?

The job is not always easy. Sometimes you will answer phone calls late in the night, or you will have to report a friend who had a party in the room (well, at least you will have an obligation to report them, and whether you will follow it or not is your choice).

In your answer, you should show the hiring committee that you understand the complexity of the position, and that you know it won’t be always easy. Tell them that you are ready for all aspects of the job and won’t let your emotions to interfere with the decisions you will make from the position of a resident assistant.

Sample answer:

I feel that the toughest aspect of this job is that sometimes you cannot be nice to the students. For example, if there is a late night party that is forbidden, or if you discover someone smoking in the dorm, you have to report it, you have to tell them something. Of course, this doesn’t help with your image in the eyes of the students in question, but rules are rules, and you still have to do it. Since I try to be friends with everyone, I can imagine it will be hard for me to have to do such things from time to time. But I understand it belongs to the job, and you can rely on my integrity 100%.


Dorm resident assitant has just succeeded in her interview with the college representatives.

Screening and behavioral questions

Depending on the school, and the number of applicants, the interview may become more complex. They can ask you some of the following questions:


Why should we choose you, and not one of the other applicants?

Emphasize your greatest strengths, and an experience that makes from you a great candidate for the job. Tell them about your desire to make a positive difference, and your honest interest in the life at the dormitory. Alternatively you can show nice personality, saying that yo are sure other candidates also have something to offer, and hence you cannot really say who’s the best candidate for the job.

Sample answer:

To be honest, I cannot say if you should choose me and not one of the other candidates. While I believe to have what it takes to do this job well, and I am as motivated as ever to make some positive difference here at the dorm, I am sure other students also have their strengths and good reasons why they want to get the position. Hence it is up to you to choose the one or more applicants, and I am sure it won’t be an easy task.


Describe a conflict you had with another student in the past.

Say that you understand that conflicts belong to the job, and that you try to solve each conflict in a constructive way, the most appropriate one. Stress that you do your best to avoid useless conflicts, and stay on the top of the game. At the end of the day, while you have some authority as an RA, it isn’t really an official for of authority. In this job you should rely more on your communication skills and diplomacy than on formal authority.

Sample answer:

I had a few conflicts in the past, though I always try to understand the point of view of another person, and avoid useless conflicts. But at times I had to stay my ground, and the conflict started. For example when a student wanted to organize a late night party with drinks in the room, but I was against it, since I knew it could lead to problems for everyone involved. I explained my point of view, she was angry, but eventually we came to a consensus, and after 10pm the party moved to town…


How do you imagine combining your student and RA duties?

Tell them about a job you had in a past, or any other responsibility (taking care of a child, volunteering work), one that you managed to handle while studying. Show them that you like to be busy, that you are not a time-waster, and know how to prioritize your tasks. Perhaps you even had some part time job before, like with some fast food restaurant or supermarket. You can also use it as a demonstration of your ability to handle the role, while not compromising your studies.

Sample answer:

To be honest I feel like I can handle almost everything. Look, I do not waste time on social networks or watching series on Netflix. I just study, do sports, and enjoy socializing with other students. In my opinion, you have a few free hours in such a schedule, and I see no reason why a role of an RA should have a negative impact on my results at school. Last year I had a part time job with KFC, for 20 hours a week, and still managed to achieve one of the best results in the entire grade. I believe it demonstrates my ability to handle both part-time work and studies.


Tell us about a goal you achieved recently.

Try to talk about a selfless goal--helping one of your friends to pass an exam, improving something in your dorm, or in your room back home, doing something good for the class, etc. Show us that you do not think only about yourself and your career.Alternatively you can talk about a goal that demonstrates your capacity to handle the role of an RA and achieve great study results at the same time.

Sample answer:

Something I am really proud of is helping my best friend Marion finally pass the exams from Chemistry. She struggled a lot, and thought she’d not pass and drop out, but I encouraged her and gave her private lessons, for free, in the evenings, to help her get ready. She eventually passed the exam and progressed to the next grade. I was very happy for her and also for m ability to help other student.


What can you improve about this building?

Well, it doesn’t make much sense saying that you’d suggest changing the old roof or designing a new winter garden, since such things really don’t depend on you, and you do not have any impact on them. But you can focus on some small improvements, perhaps informing students more about events and important things with the help of leaflets and announcements, changing this or that detail in the dining room, etc. Alternatively you can say that you want to focus on other type of improvements–the improvements you can achieve from your role of RA–better communication with students, more transparency, etc.

Sample answer:

To be honest, I see some room for improvement and renovation of the building, but no doubt it isn’t my responsibility to decide about such things. Hence I prefer to focus more on things I can impact in my role–achieving better transparency, better satisfaction of the students, making sure that everyone feel safe here and knows who they can contact should they need anything.


Do you have any questions?

People generally say you should ask something, but I believe it makes no sense forcing a question. If you feel that you’ve discussed everything important in the interview, and have no doubts about the role, you can just thank them for their time and express your desire to get the role, after everything that has been said and done. Of course, if something isn’t clear to you in terms of your duties, schedule, or even next steps of the recruitment process, you can ask about it, and they will be happy to answer your questions…


Final thoughts, eBook for the responsible

The more people apply, the more complex the interviews will be. If you would like to learn how to answer the common screening and behavioral questions, and how to win the hearts of your interviewers, check out our Interview Success Package. You will find it handy now, and also a few years later, when you will apply for an actual job… It includes up to 10 premium answers to more than 100 interview questions, basically everything the hiring managers may throw at you, and it will be a great investment to your professional career. Thank you for checking it out, and I wish you best of luck in your RA interview!


Alternatively you can continue your interview preparation with one of the following articles:

Matthew Chulaw
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