December 01, 2022

So you want to be an RA: The Scoop on Acing your RA Application/Interview and Reflection on 2022 RA Interviews

It’s no secret that being an RA has a lot of perks: the single room, room and board, and a stipend for returning RA’s. It’s an attractive position with a lot of responsibility to manage conflict and build bonds within your residence. Once you have examined the requirements and responsibilities of an RA at LC and decided you want to take up that responsibility, you might find yourself wondering where to even begin the application process. Well, you’re in luck because in this article we are going to tell you how to do just that (according to 2022 RA application information). We will also hear from an interview from the 2022 Selection Committee made of Area Directors Juliane Corpus (she/her); Julia Pacheco-Cole (she/her); and Adam Hintze (he/him).

Step 1: Understand what it means to be an RA and what’s changed

According to the Selection committee, “At most institutions, RA stands for Resident Advisor, Assistant, or Advocate. The goal of the RA role at Lewis & Clark is to be just that.” RA’s are required to be returning students and expected to use their experience as a college student to foster community and act as a guide for new and returning students. A big part of this is accomplished through planning programs, connecting with residents, and creating hall initiatives with Living Learning Communities (LLC). The role of an RA has become more refined in response to feedback from the previous year to suit the changing needs of the student body.

As of Fall 2022, The lead RA role is being transformed into being Residential Experience Manager (REM). REM’s oversee programming for LLC’s by planning traditional events and collaborating with campus partners. They will not have residents or be on call but are instrumental in administrative tasks and giving feedback on engagement from the entire RA team. Additionally, to up the LLC engagement, each LLC is getting two RA’s instead of one along with the help from the REM(s).


Step 2: The Application Process: Info, Application, Interview

It is highly recommended to attend the Information Session to learn requirements, expectations, important dates, compensation, and hear from current RA’s. Shortly after the information session, all applications will open for RA’s and REM’s along with supplemental questions. Last year, (2021) Campus Living did not ask supplemental questions, and is planning on incorporating these in future hiring cycles. e. After applications are due, they are reviewed by staff and selected candidates are moved onto the next round.

In the RA application and supplemental questions, the hiring team is looking for concise, accurate, and moving personal stories and/or experience. In their own words, “We don’t want to receive responses that cater to what the candidate thinks we want to hear, but rather honest stories and perspectives that show the personality and interests of the candidate.” This means, to do your best on the application you will want to dig deep and tell a story that has a moral/ lesson you learned that contributes to your appeal as an RA.

In preparation for the interview, LC Campus Living will provide you with many tools that should be taken into consideration. These tools include: interview questions, info on STAR method, and last but certainly not least, promotion of the Career Center to practice your interviewing skills (yup, we do that). The interviews are 45min to 1hr with the first half being formal interview questions and the second half being role play/scenarios. They will present the candidate with day-to-day scenarios and evaluate your critical thinking skills. After, they will ask some reflecting questions to assess your assessment of your initial response. The main goal of the interview is to connect with the candidate beyond written materials and expand the students’ understanding of the role by having them truly envision themselves in that role.

As said by the 2022 Selection Committee, “We train our RAs when they start the position, so a big aspect of what we look for is trainability, or how well students adapt when given instructions or feedback.” Your biggest quality is your ability to recognize if something you are doing is wrong, brainstorm ways to do better, and to learn from your mistakes. You can do any job with these qualities. This is especially important for RA’s as they will always encounter new situations as every resident and resident hall are different. Showing you have these qualities through the application process proves to them that you can make appropriate, quick, and effective decisions. Overall, the selection committee says: “Our RAs are problem solvers and collaborators, they care about their residents and the values of Campus Living, and they overall are just a fun, talented, and hard-working group of people.”


The Application: Review from Spring 2022:

When preparing for a job interview, it can be very helpful for the applicant to review past interview experiences. For the 2022 interviews, “Honestly, this year’s applications were all over the board….The candidates that would stand out were the ones who clearly knew what the role was, stated the transferable skills they had, and related these skills to the role.” Going into an interview and application, it is vital to have a deep understanding of the position and be able to clearly articulate your qualifications and experiences that are relevant to this position.


For example, when applying for my current position (a Peer Career Advisor), I mentioned that I have had an extensive history of environmental conservation education. Just saying this proves three things: 1. I know nothing about what it means to be a career advisor since I think this is relevant. 2. I don’t have any experience relating to Career Advising since I brought this up. 3. I am not very good with interviews (which is a bad thing considering the job). However, saying I have extensive history in a conservation organization where I advised many young students on the prospects of careers and volunteer opportunities in environmental education, conservation, and biology in my hometown and abroad, will mean a lot more to me than my original statement. Adding in that this experience taught me how to work with diverse groups of people on complicated and somewhat personal matters and gave me experience in office procedures and informational handout making will strengthen my experience as “relevant” even if the handouts had nothing to do with careers. For positions that do not require previous experience, the experience you provide should show that you can learn new information appropriate for the role and have general knowledge required for the job.


Many organizations/companies have a “values” section on their website. The LC website’s values include diversity, equity, inclusion, sustainability, fostering leadership, and integrating theory and practice in education. For an RA, it’s important to keep these values and the values of our student body in mind for these are the values you will need to advocate for as an RA. The 2022 selection committee reported, “This year, in all honesty, we saw within our applications and interviews that the answers in regards to equity and inclusion lacked a bit– both in understanding what it is and what it looks like in practice. This isn’t a bad thing by any means, but it’s something that our office has noticed and are looking forward to prioritizing at our upcoming training in August.”

As they said this is not a bad thing, but it also can be avoided by anticipating the needs of the student body as an RA would need to do. As a liberal arts school with a diversifying population (not quite diverse yet but LC is working on it), equity, inclusion, and justice will be very important to the students and have a great possibility to cause distress and/or stress into a students life. By educating yourself on matters that are important to the organization/mission you serve for your position, you will be much more prepared and have a deeper understanding of the role.


Last Advise and a Message from the 2022 Selection Committee:

The best way to set yourself up for success is to utilize your resources. Examples of this include:

  • Going to the Career Center to practice your interviewing skills
  • Practice interview questions with friends
  • Read about the position on LC website and other websites such as
  • Ask your RA: they already have the experience and knowledge of the most up-to-date policies with Campus Living
  • Be involved in your residence hall/LLC: this will give you practical learning experience to base your ideas on
  • Don’t stress: be yourself. The best face that you can put on during the application process is your own, as that will be the person who is going to be doing the job.


Last but not least, a final message from 2022 Selection Committee:

An important element of becoming/being an RA is that there is no perfect formula for what makes a great staff member. When selecting teams we look for different personalities, strengths, and lenses, and work with RAs to cultivate these within the job. For anyone considering applying - do so! - attend info sessions, talk to your RA or Area Director, or check out our web pages to have any questions answered. You just might be the missing puzzle piece to complete our Campus Living team!”


Makena Andersen

2024, Chemistry