Interviewing The Potential Roommate
Interviewing The Potential Roommate
Sylvia Bergthold (Author, Roommate Expert) gives expert video advice on: Once I start getting responses to my roommate ad, what is the next step?; How can I narrow my pool of prospective roommate candidates?; What questions are off limits when interviewing a potential roommate? and more...
Once I start getting responses to my roommate ad, what is the next step?
I think the next step in the response is that we're going to assume that you followed the guidelines in my book, and it says you leave a message answering these questions. You've already made up the questions, whatever is important to you. If they answer back and they go along with your question, then you can set up an interview - a face-to-face interview. There are steps that you want to take. You don't just want to say, "Oh, come on over and we'll talk". You're going to end up with lots of people that you wouldn't care about. You can be very discriminating when you want a roommate. It's not like you're getting a tenant in an apartment building where you can't be discriminatory. In getting a roommate, you can be very specific about what you want.
Are there certain red flags I should look for when talking to prospective roommates?
One of them would probably be: "why are they moving?". That's a major question. If they say something like "I don't get along with my roommate" or "I hate my landlord", these are red flags. They might have a personality conflict, and you should go back and start asking them about the place they lived in before. Why did you want to leave there? If they're moving every 3 months, you don't want this person. You should eliminate them right now. You don't want this.
Where should the initial roommate meeting take place?
The initial get-together should be in a neutral location: a restaurant, coffee shop or park. You are going to feel this person out. I believe very strongly in vibe, and going with your intuition. You'll know almost immediately if you feel real comfortable with this person, then you can go to the next step.
Should I have a friend present when meeting a prospective roommate?
I don't think it's a good idea to bring friends or family members to the initial meeting. This meeting is to feel the person out - nothing else, nobody else, just this person. You need to be concentrating on that, and not on what the friend is doing or saying, or inputting in the conversation. This is just between you and this person. I would not advise anybody else - just you and the prospective roommate.
What should I bring to the initial meeting with a prospective roommate?
You want to bring to the initial meeting a copy of the application to rent, and a copy of your lease agreement. If your lease agreement, or the roommate agreement, has rules already built into it, or a specific set of rules that you have already made up, they need to be aware you've got these rules set up in your house. The roommate agreement, generally, has those written in, such as no overnight guests, no smoking, no parties, that kind of thing.
When should I introduce a potential new roommate to my other roommates?
Let's say that you have already had the initial interview with the perspective roommate, and you have really good feelings about this person. Now, they are at your house. They have checked out your house, and they like your place. You now invite your other roommates to see them on the conversation. You need to see that they feel comfortable with this other person, and that there is not a personality clash. I have seen this happen where I felt really comfortable with someone and I thought they'd make a good roommate, and one of my roommates hated her on the spot. It was just a personality conflict from the minute she saw her. I can't override that. I may be the boss technically, but I don't want to override this - my other roommate's distinct impressions and vibes. You should talk to this person and say “we'll get back to you”, and then you do. Later, say “we've found someone else that was more compatible with our household. Thank you for coming out” and leave it at that.
What questions are off limits when interviewing a potential roommate?
This person is going to be living in your house - they're going to be sharing your space in your cabinets, and using your stove. I don't think there are any off-limit questions. Sometimes, they might get a little snippy when you ask certain questions, like are you on any kind of medication? It is your business, do not take it as not being your business. It IS your business. If they overdose on something, you need to know that. If they overdose on their heart medication, if they are a diabetic, for instance. You need to know that, it's really important. One of the questions, one of the things they have to do here, is give me emergency numbers. The doctors, or people who I should contact if you drop dead on my living room floor. This is important stuff. It's just like business. When you apply for a job, and you get the job, and you fill out all the paperwork involved, there's an emergency number that they ask you. This is even worse - this is people living in your house. There is no such thing as an off-limit question, not in my book there isn't.
Is it standard to ask for references from a potential roommate?
It is definitely standard to ask for references. In fact, you tell the person that you're going to do a credit check on them, just like a landlord does if you're applying for an apartment. You need to know that they're financially stable, and that they're going to be giving you the rent cheque every month. Otherwise, why are you doing this in the first place?