Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 3 - 32

The Questions We Ask:
A Content Analysis of Resident Assistant
Interview Questions
EVERY YEAR UNIVERSITY HOUSING DEPARTMENTS engage in processes

to select Resident Assistants (RAs) to be peer leaders in their communities. The
purpose of this study is to better understand the job expectations and competencies
interview questions address. This study uses qualitative content analysis to chronicle
the questions asked of RAs across 12 institutions in the Southwest region of the
United States. Overall, 200 questions were coded and placed into three themes:
Competencies (97), Personal (58), and Job Expectations (45). The highest frequency
coded questions in each theme were: Job Expectation: Community Outreach (17);
Competencies: Diversity Awareness (15); and Personal: Personality/About You (33).
The study reveals the importance placed on specific competency areas viewed to
be important in the RA position. Additionally, the findings show a disconnect
in areas seen as important in the position yet infrequently addressed by the
questions asked of candidates.

R

esidential college campuses strive to
create environments where students
can thrive and successfully contribute to their college experiences (Horvath &
Stack, 2013). Campuses often turn to Resident Assistants (RAs) to be front-line employees influencing the student experience
(Paladino et al., 2005). The RA position has
many responsibilities often including policy enforcement, community building, and
student support (Blimling, 2003). It is important for housing departments to hire dependable and well-rounded students to serve
in the RA role. Research has examined what
contributes to high performing RA candidates, including looking at emotional intel-

ligence (Jaeger & Caison, 2006; Wu & Stemler, 2008), training (Murray et al., 1999),
and interview types (Berg & Stoner, 2016).
	
Interviews are the most common practice for evaluating RA candidates (Berg &
Stoner, 2016). It is essential that interview
questions are carefully developed to assess
the knowledge desired about each candidate. However, there is little research specifically evaluating the questions asked during
RA selection interviews. The purpose of this
study was to analyze the questions asked
during the RA interview process by addressing the following: Which competencies
do RA interview questions focus on? and
How do RA interview questions align with
general RA job expectations?
Volume 47, No. 3 * 2021

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Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 3

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