Selecting a roommate is neither an easy task nor one to be taken lightly, and that’s why conducting a roommate interview is such an important part of the selection process. Think about it: your roommate most likely will directly affect your happiness, stress level and sanity for up to a year (depending on the lease length). Choosing someone with whom you will be compatible is critical not only to the living situation, but to both you and your roommate’s well being. Consider the following items as you begin the interview process.
Start with a Written Questionnaire First
A good way to weed the good candidates from the bad is to have a questionnaire ready to email out to anyone who responds to your roommate ad. It can be as detailed or as simple as you’d like. A good questionnaire will give you an overarching idea of the person and whether or not he or she is worth meeting in person for an interview. If there are non-negotiables, like not wanting to live with one who smokes or someone who frequently hosts overnight guests, place a question in the questionnaire pertaining to these things. Knowing these things up front will keep you from wasting both your time and that of the applicant.
Meet for an Interview
For the in-person interview, see about meeting up for coffee. Like a date, an interview can be awkward if the two of you don’t click. A coffee meet up makes it easy for both parties to end the ordeal quickly and painlessly if things aren’t going well. Come prepared with a list of questions you have for the person. Hopefully, your potential roommate will come with questions as well. Now is a good time to cover all topics.
You should conduct your roommate interview in an informal and conversational manner. You want to get to know this person and won’t accomplish that by keeping it strictly business. Start out like you would making small talk with any person you’ve just met: ask simply things like what they do, where they’ve lived, what their interests are. These things may not matter in the grand scheme of living with a roommate, but it’ll give you a good idea as to the individual’s personality.
From there, begin asking questions crucial to the living situation. Find out if he or she has lived with roommates before and what he or she liked and disliked most about the previous living situation. Ask about things like cleanliness and noisiness. Basically, ask about anything that you feel will most impact the living arrangement.
Since this isn’t a job interview, feel free to speak up if you think it isn’t going to work. No sense in wasting anybody’s time. If you think it may work out but still have more people to interview, conclude the interview by saying so. Again, there really isn’t a formal way to conduct a roommate interview. Just be sure to follow up even if you don’t select the person.
Ask the right questions and be honest and upfront yourself and you’ll minimize the chances of a nightmare roommate situation down the road.