5 Tips for Res Life Professionals During RA Interviews

Like clockwork, every spring brings about Resident Assistant hiring season! It can be a hectic, but also a fun time to be in residence life. Seeing the optimism and hope of new RA candidates can be energizing, but the grind of interviewing can also be exhausting. If you get overwhelmed, take a minute to regroup with these five tips for res life professionals during RA interviews.

Reflect on your current staff.

Over the course of a year, we get to know our hall staffs quite intimately – so much so, it can sometimes be hard to imagine working with a new cohort of RAs. As you look to hire for the next academic year, it can be helpful to reflect on the current strengths and areas of improvement for your current team. Keep these qualities in mind as you start seeking out candidates.

Be cognizant of your own biases.

Although you should reflect on your current team, it is inherently difficult to refrain from comparing new candidates to your current or previous staff members. Focus your interviews and center on the candidates as individuals. Utilizing this mindset, you are more apt to have a quality representation of what each unique candidate has to offer. We know that a successful RA is not one size fits all – a diverse staff is better suited to respond to the needs of your building. Thinking about your own biases before the interview process will help to prevent you from hiring in your own image.

Avoid group think.

When you are close with a coworker or a staff member and share in the same interview experience, it can be tempting to discuss interview responses after they take place. However, this practice can significantly contribute to group think which could cloud your perception of the candidate. (You can learn more about group think here.) Remember, if you are interviewing candidates in groups, there is a reason there are multiple staff members present – your department wants varied feedback.

Take a break.

Depending on your institution’s size, the RA interview process can quickly become a bit tedious. After a few hours of interviews, candidate responses easily become blurred. It can be difficult to show continuous investment in candidates, but it is important to maintain energy and investment throughout the interview process so as not to give preference to individuals.

Give grace.

We all remember our first interview. You are simultaneously nervous and excited about what this opportunity will bring. Chances are that your interviewees will feel the same and this might show up in their performance. Be kind and generous. Focus on the sentiment of your candidate’s response – not the delivery.

What tips would you give interviewing RAs?

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