10 helpful interview tips from a former RA

interview-blog.jpgI loved Lister in my first year of University. I knew within the first few weeks of living in Lister that I wanted to be an RA the next year—and an SRA the year after that. Little did I know that I would spend the next three years in Lister as a Henday RA and an SRA in Schaffer.

Through numerous hiring processes as both a student and professional staff, I have noted a few things that help candidates both prepare for and stand out in the interview. I hope they can help you too.

1. Chat with your RAs

All of the RAs have gone through the residence interview process and can share their experience with you, including what types of questions they were asked. The exact questions may change every year, but the general themes of our questions stay pretty consistent.

2. Compare your resume to the job posting

This helps you prepare your answers. When looking at the job qualifications and requirements for the role, you should be able to list an example of when you demonstrated that qualification and/or requirement in the past. Doing this reflection before the interview allows you to recall real life examples more quickly in the interview. Hint: Think of specific examples from your past that may have involved your problem solving skills.

3. Do a mock interview

Ask friends to go over “typical” interview questions with you—Why do you want this role? Why are you the best candidate for the position? How would you describe your leadership style? This helps to build your confidence for the interview, while also perfecting your responses. If you have an SRA interview, you will be asked to develop a presentation. I highly encourage you to practice your presentation a few times to feel comfortable and get the timing right.

4. Dress for success

The RA role is casual, but that does not mean you should be casual at the interview. Wearing jeans is fine to Group Process, but you should consider pairing a nice top with it. If you make it through to an individual interview, consider impressing us by dressing a little more professionally.

5. Arrive on time

Arriving on time is one of our first impressions of you. Being punctual shows that you care about the job, have good time management skills and respect the interview process.

6. Group Process for RA/SRA roles

Some positions (specifically RA and SRA roles) may require you to go through something called “Group Process”. This is a large-scale initial hiring process for assessing a large number of candidates at once.

Group Process is an interview. It’s the first step in hiring new staff and we take it very seriously. You will have a few minutes in between each room. How you choose to use this time is up to you, but just remember that you are in an interview.

7. Shake hands

At the start of the interview, shake hands with everyone on the interview panel and again at the end of the interview. You want to ensure that you are making eye contact when shaking hands and that your handshake is firm—this shows confidence and professionalism.

8. Slow down

At the start of your interview, the interviewers will normally go over how long you have for the interview and the number of questions they will ask you. Use this knowledge to plan your responses, while still leaving some time at the end for questions. In the time you have, ensure that you are properly answering questions by diving into the what, why and how of your answer.

9. Prepare your questions

You are interviewing the Residence Life department just as much as we are interviewing you. You want to ensure that this job is the right fit for you. Prepare questions beforehand to create an opportunity for open dialogue about the role and show you are genuinely interested in the role.

10. Be yourself!

Being yourself in the interview is really important; no other candidate is exactly like you. By preparing for the interview, you should feel more comfortable and will be better able to highlight your unique personality! I wish you the best of luck during the interview process!

About the author

Emilie Heaton is currently the Residence Coordinator (RC) for Linden House, Pinecrest House, Tamarack House and Graduate Residence. She has been working as an RC at the University of Alberta for the past 2 years. Prior to being an RC, she worked in Lister as an RA and SRA. In her free time, you will find Emilie working on her MBA, spending time with friends and being active on the squash court or at the gym.