Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 3 - 66

The purpose of this qualitative study is to interview
residence life professionals (RLPs) who interview, select,
and place RAs on teams to understand what criteria they
consider throughout the RA hiring process.
candidate selection, specifically regarding
weight and physical attractiveness (de Kock
& Hauptfleisch, 2018; Gilmore et al., 1986;
Lundmann, 2018; Pingitore et al., 1994). In
one sample, applicant ethnicity influenced
what questions the candidates were asked by
interviewers (Wolgast et al., 2018).
	
One bias-reduction strategy described
in the literature was to use highly structured
interviews in the selection process. Aamodt
et al. (2006) conducted a meta-analysis on
bias in job interviews and found bias in both
structured and unstructured interviews, but
a higher level of bias within unstructured interviews. Lievens and De Paepe (2003) found
three factors among interviewers that led
them to be less inclined to conduct a structured interview: concern about having discretion over questions or scoring, a desire to
establish a relationship with the interviewee,
and the importance of ease of preparation.
	
There is little research specifically on
bias in RA interviews, but Stoner (2019) recommended institutions review their raw RA
interview scores for structural bias to ensure
scores are in alignment with departments'
hiring philosophies. Hiring diverse teams
of RAs is reliant on diverse applicant pools.
Healea and Hale (2016) found three key elements to encourage diverse RAs to apply for
the position: a departmental focus on diversity; increasing the number of underrepresented students on campus and providing
adequate support while at the institution;
and the influence of professional staff in
conversations on diversity including recommending to individuals that they apply
to be an RA. Bleikamp et al. (2015) explored

perceptions of the RA selection process of
students of color who had applied to be RAs.
Focus groups reported the selection process
as fair, and how they were treated fairly by
those in positions of power.

Working as a Team
Although aspects of the RA role are completed individually, RAs are almost always
part of larger teams. How well teams work
together contributes to the overall residential experience for students. Meta-analyses
by Horwitz and Horwitz (2007) and Jackson
et al. (2003) found demographic diversity
within teams was inconclusive in how it may
impact team performance and outcomes in
business settings. More research is needed
in this area as both meta-analyses cited studies yielding different results on whether demographic diversity increased or decreased
team performance. Functional or occupational diversity, which is expertise in different tasks or areas of a business, was shown
to improve team performance in some areas
(Jackson et al., 2003).
	
In regard to conflict within teams, a
study by Tekleab et al. (2009) discovered the
ability for a team to positively manage conflict increased team cohesion and mitigated
the negative effects that relationship conflict
and task conflict have on team cohesion. If
conflict is addressed successfully by a team,
it results in higher levels of team cohesion
than if conflict were completely avoided. In
this sample, Tekleab et al. (2009) found team
cohesion levels were related to perceived performance, satisfaction of team members,
and the overall viability of the team.

Volume 47, No. 3 * 2021

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