Tips to Be a Strong RA Candidate

Tips to Be a Strong RA Candidate

So… you have decided to become an RA? I envy you, the previous two years I was an RA at UNH and my floor became my family, and my hall director became my mentor and friend. It was a highly rewarding experience and probably one of the best leadership opportunities I was presented with. It’s fun and exciting but it can also get very time consuming and the position requires a lot of hard work. When I was applying, there were more than 550 other candidates who were also interested in securing one of the 148 jobs. Here are a few things that helped me ace the process:

  1. Ask yourself why do you want the position?

This is probably one of the first things you should do. An internal reflection of ‘Why I truly want this position’ will help you be more prepared. Do you want the position because you like people? Is it because you like building communities? Or is it for the free room and board? Let me tell you this, if you don’t like the responsibilities and duties of the job, you are going to have a hard time surviving the rest of the year. Are you willing to sacrifice some weekends? Or have awkward conversations with your residents? All of those apply.

  1. Get involved with your current hall and organizations across campus.

When they are selecting an RA, they are choosing someone who can inspire others to grow and create a community. When you are involved with your hall it displays two things:

1) You like being a part of your dorm

2) You are comfortable in a setting which requires you to be around several people.

  1. Spend some time with your RA’s and Hall Director’s.

In order for them to give you their stamp of approval, they need to know who you are. Way before the application process begins, you will want to ensure that your hall staff knows your intentions regarding this position. Don’t be afraid to ask them how you can improve your candidacy or if they see any problems in your application.

  1. Keep up with your academics

As you may know, you are required to have a GPA of 2.5 or above to be eligible as an RA. Being an RA, is a demanding job, so if you think you have a heavy year ahead talk to your academic advisor to go over options. Balancing work, academics and personal life is key.

  1. Be vocal at the “RA Classes”   

The RA position is extremely competitive so use this time wisely, because everyone else will also be. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion even though it doesn’t match the voice of rest of the room. Let them know that they have made valuable contributions but you have another perspective which could help. They want to see how you lead a conversation and can include people from different perspectives on one platform. It helps to include your past experiences to support the claims you make. For example, “I think being time efficient is very important. When I have a stressful week ahead, I hold my psychology club executive board meeting over lunch.” This shows your involvement with an org. and you are planning ahead so you don’t drop the ball, and the fact you are a time-efficient individual stands to be true.

  1. Be ready for the one on one interview.

Yes, you do need a resume and yes, you do need a reference letter. You will be asked to upload these in the main application online. Get someone from Career and Professional Services  (CAPS) to review your resume or get help online. You can also make an appointment with someone to help you with a practice interview. As an RA, you will find yourself redirecting people to other resources all the time, so before you go to your 1:1 interview, make sure you know offices like CaPS, Psychological and Counseling Services (PACS) etc. Don’t forget to update your hall director on how you thought the interview went and send a thank you note to your interviewer.

Here are the most commonly asked question.

  1. Are you involved on campus? If yes, what do you do?
  2. How do you contribute to a team? What do you bring to the table?
  3. What qualities/skills do you have that would make you a good RA? What makes you unique?
  4. Tell me a story about an incident where you displayed leadership or you handled a crisis situation?
  5. What role do you usually play on a team?
  6. There will be some uncomfortable situations in the dorm, how do you plan to comfort them?
  7. What dorm would you like to be placed in? Why do you think you would be a good fit for this dorm?
  8. How do you plan to balance your activities and studies with this job?

Finally, don’t be disappointed if you aren’t selected. You are still a great leader and residential life is just looking for a certain person with specific personalities for specific dorms. There are still plenty of ways in which you can enhance your leadership skills and get a job at UNH.


– Sriyaa Shah ’18 –