Student Staff Selection

by Katie LaSota 
It is that time of year again, especially in Residential Life. My department has started searching for our FY2015 student staff and we are in the midst of interviews. While interviews are only a portion of how my department does selection, for some schools this is the most important part of their selection process. Below are some of my thoughts about the selection process.
First, there are always competing work priorities while you’re in the middle of interviews. If you have been in Residential Life for a few years, this is nothing new and every day has some added challenges. So it’s really like every other day, except you have hours of interviews where you are cut off from your work email and hall.
Second, there are always students that apply that you have worked with in hall government or interacted with through other hall gatherings. Being a student leader in the hall is important and awesome. I was in hall government and really enjoyed my experience and learned a lot from my hall director. It can also be beneficial to the selection process because you have been able to see them work throughout the year and have developed an idea of how they would handle being an Residence Advisor (RA). However, this can also be more challenging than interviewing a candidate that you have had zero interaction with because there is a relationship between you and that resident. When residents take on leadership roles in the hall, with the intention of applying in the future to be an RA they are essentially interviewing all year. Every interaction and conversation with that resident will shape how you think they will perform in the role that they are seeking though your department. Whether you decide to hire them or not, your response to the not hire letter when interacting with the resident will be important. Make sure they know that you care and provide answers if they are struggling with the decision that the department made about their candidacy.
Third, it is really hard to fine tune a process to pick the perfect candidate. While perfect does not exist, we are searching for students that will be great in the position and care about their residents. Some students are good at interviewing and some are not. In some cases, there is no correlation between being a good interviewer and a good RA. Does this expectation of being a good interviewer in the process make us miss potentially awesome student staff members? How does this expectation support Diversity and Social Justice? How does your institution run selection?

Student Affairs - the First Years

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