How to Interview for an RA Job

Dress professionally for your interview.

Dress professionally for your interview.

Getting a job as a resident assistant, or RA, is a way to earn a few extra dollars, subsidize your college room and board costs and get valuable job experience. You'll have to interview for the position, probably participating in both a group and individual interview. Your goal: convince hiring staff you're a responsible leader with good communication skills and not a keg-tapping party girl.

Talk to your college’s residential life office to find out when applications are accepted. Most colleges and universities screen and hire RA candidates at certain times of year, so submit your application on time to get a shot at an interview.

Write a resume. Even though you'll probably be asked to fill out a job application, attaching a resume shows your professionalism and your organizational skills. Even if you don't have a lot of work history to include on the resume, describe what you're studying and include past employment or volunteer work, including on-campus jobs. Emphasize skills relevant to the job, such as time management, creativity and an ability to get along with a diverse mix of people. Include extracurricular activities that show you’re a well-rounded and outgoing person.

Prepare to participate in a group interview. University hiring managers often bring together RA candidates into small group settings to see how they interact and to get a better idea for personalities and social skills. You might be given a group task to complete together or be asked similar questions. Be respectful of your fellow job-seekers, take a leadership role in group activities or be a supportive team member. Show patience, kindness and creativity if you participate in group brainstorming or problem-solving activities.

Prepare for an individual interview. Once you make it through the group interview, you get a shot to impress the hiring manager one on one. You'll be asked about your college experiences, what you liked and didn't like about living in residency halls, and what kind of RA you think you'll be. You might also be asked to describe how you handle confrontation, plan group activities, mediate conflict and nurture relationships between people of diverse backgrounds.

Send a follow-up thank you note to your interviewer immediately following your interview. This shows you're respectful, responsible and serious about the job.


  • Bone up on university resources so you can emphasize your knowledge about on-campus programs and services during your interview.
  • Check your qualifications before you apply to ensure you have the credentials necessary for a job in residence life. Many universities require RAs to have a minimum GPA and no history of disciplinary action.

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About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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