The following question bank includes questions drawn from interviews for student staff-level positions in housing and residence life. These include Resident Assistant positions and other positions of a similar type.
The goals of this question bank are twofold:
- To provide language and idea starters for departments to use to improve their own interview questions.
- To provide potential job candidates examples of questions they may need to be prepared to answer in an interview.
Any question bank such as this is necessarily incomplete. Many schools utilize rubrics for scoring and other forms of interview techniques beyond the straight question-and-answer method. This question bank is also devoid of context behind why questions were chosen and how they are worded. Nevertheless, seeing examples can sometimes help one’s own thinking. We hope this question bank does that for you.
Questions were collected from multiple schools and are randomized and anonymized. Institution-specific and position-specific questions were removed. Next, the questions were organized by general theme.
If you’d like to help your fellow colleagues and candidates contribute to the question bank, send us an email with your interview documents attached. We will anonymize them and randomly distribute them in the question bank.
Good luck interviewing!
Additional Resources Related to Staff Selection
General and Opening Questions
- Why did you decide to apply for the RA position?
- What motivated you to apply for the RA position?
- Tell us about your experience living on campus and how that experience has influenced your decision to apply for this role(s)?
- What strengths would you bring to the RA position? What are areas of improvement?
- What are 3 things we should know about you?
- You’ve indicated you’re interested in the X role(s), thinking about your strengths, values, and ideas, what will you bring to that/those role(s)?
- What do you hope to learn and what skills do you hope to gain while serving in the Resident Assistant position?
- Thinking about your time on staff so far, tell us what went well, and then what you found challenging. How will your experiences so far inform how you approach next year on staff?
- Can you share an accomplishment that you are proud of?
- Tell us something about yourself that isn’t on your resume, including something you do for fun!
Administration, Organization, and Time Management
- Thinking about your experience at X, tell us about how you have balanced your commitments.
- Student staff members are tasked with work that requires detail, timeliness, and clear communication. They are often asked to complete tasks and expected to follow through as these tasks are often crucial to the student experience and/or professional staff work in the residence hall and/or main office. Tell us about a time that someone’s dependability (or lack thereof) impacted you, what you took away from that experience, and how you would implement that in your desired role.
- It’s midterms week. You have multiple exams to study for and bulletin boards are due on your floor. Tonight you have a club meeting and a resident wants to talk to you. How do you prioritize your time this week to get done what needs to get done?
- Tell us about how you keep yourself organized and what you would need to do next year if offered a position to manage school, Residence Life, and your other commitments.
- This role includes a lot of administrative work. Tell us not only what excites you about this work, but also how you’ll intentionally stay engaged with the day-to-day management of things like logging keys, managing check ins/outs, desk and duty schedules, etc.
- The RA position would add an additional layer of commitment and responsibility to your schedule. How do you prioritize responsibilities and manage your time successfully? Do you know when and how to say no to additional commitments?
- If offered a position, what additional campus involvements would you have for next year? What strategies will you use to ensure a good time management and balance between all the activities?
Teamwork and Culture Questions
- What role do you play on a team? How does that contribute to the success of the team/a healthy team dynamic?
- What does Teamwork mean to you and how do you demonstrate this in the workplace? How would you demonstrate Teamwork as an RA?
- Your supervisor has given you a group task. Your peers have not contributed to the task and have left you to do the work. How would you proceed and ensure that everyone is holding themselves accountable to the task at hand?
- Reflect on an experience working with a group. What role did you play in accomplishing the goals?
- Can you share an example of a situation in which teamwork enhanced your ability to accomplish your goals or the outcomes that were expected from you as an employee?
- The RA team is made up of 10 individuals working toward the common goal of building a successful on-campus community. How do you see yourself supporting the success of your professional peers? What would you need from your team to support your success?
- Tell us about a time you worked on a group project. What went well and what didn’t.
- Tell us about the role you play on your current staff, and how you’ve supported a fellow staff member or resident this year.
- What qualities in others do you find difficult to work with? How do you work with difficult people?
- Tell us about the time you were frustrated with a coworker, team member, or group member. What was the frustration? How did you address it? What if anything would you have done differently?
- How would individuals in your current residential community describe working with you? If you aren’t currently living in a residence hall, how would individuals in your current community such as school, apartment complex, organization, church, etc. describe you?
Leadership, Initiative, and Personal Qualities Questions
- Please share with us 3 skills, tools, or strategies you utilize to be a successful leader.
- We all have areas for continued learning and growth. What is one area you want to (or need to) continue to grow in as it relates to your desired position(s)?
- Can you tell us about a time when you had to utilize your strengths to tackle a difficult task?
- Could you tell us about a time when you took initiative during a situation when nobody stepped up?
- Tell us about a time you took responsibility for something. What did you learn from that experience?
- Can you tell us about a time when you had to take responsibility for a mistake you made?
- Tell us about the last time you asked for help or assistance. What did you take away from that experience?
- Describe a time when you had to overcome a difficult situation in a personal, professional, or academic setting. How did you overcome it and what did you learn from the experience?
- Tell us about a major obstacle or challenge you have had to overcome. How did you handle it?
- Describe a time when something did not go as you planned. How did you address it and what did you learn?
- Describe a time when you notice something was wrong, needed to be changed, or needed to be addressed and what steps you took to resolve the issue.
- Tell us about a time when you observed something that needed to be addressed and the steps and actions you took to address it.
- Tell us about a mistake you’ve made this year and how you’ve grown and/or learned from that mistake.
- Tell us about a time you had to complete a task with little to no guidance or direct supervision. What challenges did you encounter and how did you navigate them?
- RAs often deal with uncertainty. Describe the steps you would take to respond to a situation where a resident asked you a non-academic question you didn’t have an answer to.
- Can you please tell us about a time when you were faced with a challenge and found a creative way to solve it?
- Sometimes in this position, you’ll know exactly what to do because you’re trained on specific steps to follow. Other times, it won’t be as clear what to do. Tell us about a time when you completed a task with little to no direction.
- Could you tell and explain about a time when you witnessed a coworker/friend doing something unethical? How did you resolve the situation?
- You have a freshman resident who is very excited and involved. This is great! However, they seem to view you as their new best friend rather than their RA. How would you establish clear boundaries with this resident to ensure that you are comfortable and the resident understands you are still here to support them?
- RAs are visible leaders on this campus, what does this mean to you? How will you balance job expectations with your social life?
- What is your definition of leadership? How has your definition of leadership changed since coming to college?
- What are the characteristics or qualities you see in RAs that you would incorporate into this position? What is a personality trait you have that you believe sets you apart from other RAs/candidates?
- Give us an example of a time you were a role model in your community. How does that experience relate to the Resident Assistant role?
Stress Management and Self Care Questions
- Resiliency is defined as the capacity to recover quickly from difficult life events. Can you tell us about a time where you exhibited a sense of resiliency? What was the situation and how did you see it through?
- The RA role often requires balancing multiple responsibilities. Sharing at your comfort level, describe a time when you had to balance multiple responsibilities that caused you to feel stress. How did you take care of yourself while completing the tasks required of you?
- Tell us about what boundaries you established this year, how your boundaries have worked for you this year, and what you anticipate setting for boundaries next year.
- Can you identify when you are experiencing burnout? What does that look like, and how do you care for yourself?
- Do you find it more difficult to ask for help or to admit that you were wrong? Why?
- How will you model self-care for residents? What are 2-3 self-care strategies you use to take care of your personal wellness?
Helping and Counseling Skills Questions
- Could you share with us a time that you offered assistance to someone in need?
- Tell us about a time you helped someone through a challenging situation.
- A resident informs you that they are struggling with a class that you have not taken and are not familiar with. What would you talk about with the residents? What do you do with this information?
- Here is a scenario: A resident comes to you to express that something you said to them was harmful or offensive. How do you respond to this feedback, learn, and move forward positively?
- How would you initiate a conversation with someone who you don’t know very well? Provide an example of a time when you’ve done this.
- How would you support a resident who is not engaged with campus or the community?
Residential Curriculum/Curricular Approach Questions
- A strategy is anything an RA does to facilitate the residential curriculum and build community among their residents) Provide some examples of strategies that you think would be successful for a residence hall floor. How might the strategies be different in different residence halls (traditional vs. suite style?)
Resident Development, Learning, and Engagement Questions
- Our student staff members are not only community builders, but peer educators too. Tell us about a time when you taught someone something.
- What is one skill you learned from living in the residence halls? How would you help a new student learn this skill?
- What are two ways you can support the academic success of residents? How can you role model positive academic performance and a commitment to academics?
- How would you support academic success as a Resident Assistant?
- Career Success is an important part of attending college and ensuring that students are getting both inside and outside the classroom experiences. Please identify one resource on campus that would aid students in achieving this success and how can you implement this in your community?
- Thinking of a program you have attended, and other programs offered on campus, why do you think it is important for students to be involved?
- What is an important issue you see that college students have to face? How could you intentionally address this issue on your floor?
Community Development Questions
- What strategies would you use in order to introduce yourself to your residents?
- How would you work to build relationships on your floor both between your residents and yourself? What is a strategy you could implement in the beginning of the year when relationships have not yet formed?
- Having 1-on-1 conversations and building personal relationships with your residents is a primary component of student staff positions. How will you build relationships with new people?
- One of the roles of an RA is to build relationships with their residents and to have 1-on-1 conversations. What would be your process to form relationships with residents including residents who have different interests than you? How would you continue to build that relationship if you ran into resistance or avoidance from the resident?
- As an RA, you are tasked with forming relationships with all of the residents within your community. Tell us about a time when you took initiative to build a relationship or rapport with someone you didn’t know. What steps did you take or could have taken to further grow that relationship?
- What strategies would you use in order to deepen your relationships with your residents?
- How would you develop relationships with your residents as a Resident Assistant, and what would be the nature of those relationships?
- Our student staff are community builders for their floors. Can you tell us what community means to you?
- Tell us about a community you have felt deeply connected to and why. What lessons will you take from that community and how will you use them to build a community among staff members next year?
- What have you done or what would you do to build a sense of community amongst a group of people of different cultures, identities, backgrounds, and beliefs?
- Why is creating an inclusive and supportive environment important when creating a house community?
- Community advisors are responsible for engaging residents in their community, please explain how you would take initiative to build community on your floor.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Questions
- How have you helped in creating an inclusive community on your floor?
- Why is it important for Resident Assistants to create an inclusive community (a community inclusive of all identities such as race, culture, ethnicity, nationality, sexuality)?
- What does diversity mean to you? How would you promote an inclusive climate within your community?
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion are core values in our department. Describe to us how you would use your own understanding of DEI (gained through life experiences, classes or training, personally held beliefs, et cetera) in the RA position to create more equitable and inclusive spaces for our residents?
- Tell us about your understanding of identity, power and privilege?
- A resident of yours has been using insensitive slurs towards another group of residents on your floor who share a common marginalized identity. What would your next steps be?
- There have been multiple social justice issues and topics that have gained national attention in recent years. How have you learned more about these issues and in what ways have you engaged with these topics? How do these issues affect college students today?
- Tell us about a time when you changed or expanded a worldview or belief that you held. What were the factors that caused this change? What did you learn from this experience?
- Tell us about something specific you’ve learned this year as it relates to equity and inclusion and how you can apply what you’ve learned to your desired role next year.
- What are opportunities either on or off campus that have allowed you to broaden your knowledge regarding identity? What did you learn?
- What is your approach to engaging with people who have different perspectives from your own?
- Tell us about a time you have worked with people with different identities from your own (race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, geographic, socioeconomic status, etc.)? How will you bring those experiences to the RA position?
- What is your approach to building and maintaining relationships with people who have significant difference or beliefs than you?
- In student staff roles, you will interact with a variety of students. How would you approach working with a resident who holds beliefs and viewpoints different from your own?
Supervisory Relationship Questions
- You may have a new supervisor next year; based on your experience this year and/or with other supervisors, what are things you need from a supervisor to be successful in your role?
- Tell us about a time you received feedback and what you did with it?
- Could you tell us about a time your actions or behaviors resulted in you receiving constructive feedback that you did not agree with? What was the result of the feedback?
- If a student has a problem you are unfamiliar with, why is it important to seek assistance from someone like your supervisor?
Policy and Student Conduct Questions
- What methods might you use to encourage residents to take responsibility of their residential environment, for example, bathrooms, lounges, and lobby spaces?
- Policy enforcement is one part of the Resident Assistant position. How does policy enforcement contribute to building a community?
- As an RA, you are expected to confront all policy violations you encounter within the halls. How would you hold residents accountable for violations while maintaining a positive relationship?
- How will you develop relationships with your residents that allow you to be both a friend and an authority figure?
- If you had to talk to one of your residents who broke policy, how would you repair your relationship with that person?
- How would you maintain relationships with residents while enforcing policies or having difficult conversations?
- Enforcing policies is an important part of the RA position. How would you handle enforcing a policy with a resident you also consider a friend?
- Policy enforcement is a key responsibility of live-in student staff positions with Residence Life. What role does policy enforcement play in building a strong and comfortable community? How would you approach situations where you have to address a resident’s behaviors?
- You have just documented a resident for violating quiet hours. How would you explain the purpose of this policy to them?
- How would you enforce policy with residents who are argumentative with you? (Example: You talk to a resident about noise during Quiet Hours and they argue that no one on the floor is sleeping or studying.)
- Part of the RA job is upholding policy. Why do you think students sometimes break policy?
- Please explain why University Policies exist. How would you explain and enforce a policy you personally disagree with, such as alcohol, quiet hours, or marijuana, or mask violations?
Conflict, Crisis, and Emergency Response Questions
- As an RA, you are often the first person a student turns to in a crisis, emergency, or a significant life event. Please describe your experience supporting others in this type of situation. What is your approach to supporting someone who may be experiencing a personal crisis (mental health, family emergency, traumatic event, etc.)?
- As an RA, you may be in situations where you have to engage in uncomfortable conversations around breaking policies, roommate agreements, or other conflicts. Please give an example of a time when you engaged in a conflict or difficult conversation. How did you manage the situation, and what was the resolution? How could this experience help you support residents navigating conflict or difficult conversations?
- Tell us a time you had to handle a conflict between friends or family. How did you handle the conflict?
- One part of the RA role is helping manage roommate conflicts. How would you navigate facilitating a conflict between two people?
Facilities, Operations, and Customer Service Questions
- How would you define good customer service? Please share with us an experience you have had as a customer interacting with an employee that exemplifies your definition of good customer service.
- Think about teachers, coaches, supervisors, and leaders you’ve had. Please share with us your favorite and least favorite.
- Given what you know about the RA position, what part of the job would be the biggest challenge for you?
- How does confidentiality relate to the Resident Assistant position?
- Tell us about a challenge you have faced in a job or at school, and how you have worked or are working to make it a strength.
- When have you felt demotivated, and what did you do to overcome this?
- Describe the legacy you hope to leave behind when you leave your student staff position.