If you are in the position to interview flatmates then you are lucky –you get to explore many options and decide who would like to live with for the next little while. However, along with this power to decide your own future also comes the responsibility to choose correctly. Remember, if you misjudge a potential flatmate you will have no one to blame but yourself. To avoid picking the wrong potential flatmate, be sure to thoroughly interview all candidates and then follow your intuition as to be the best fit with your own lifestyle.
Once you have advertised your need for a flatmate you will need to host interviews for those candidates you would like to get to know a little bit better. If you are pressed for time or simply don’t want to drag the interview process out for long, consider scheduling all of your interviews on the same evening. This will allow you to remember, and compare, all potential candidates within a short timeframe and it will also mean that you can make a decision more quickly than if you were waiting several days to see other candidates. The time of the interviews may be at your leisure, but remember that candidates who attend university or are employed full time will likely need to meet at night or on the weekends.
If you’ve never led an interview before then the task of speaking with multiple candidates may make you nervous. This is completely normal. Just remember that you are in charge and as long as you feel comfortable with the discussion then you really can’t go wrong. During the interviews remember to ask practical questions about a candidate’s student and/or employment status, where the candidate has previously lived and if (s)he has references, if the candidate understands the rent required and is in a position to pay this every week or month and if the candidate can commit to staying for the full term of the tenancy. Also be sure to ask questions about the candidate’s lifestyle, such as their views on alcohol, cigarette and drugs, “quiet time”, hygiene standards for communal living areas, cleaning and chores, overnight and longer term guests and possibly pets. Discussing daily routines, favourite activities and pet peeves may also be a smart idea.
If your candidate turns out to be a dud and you are not eliciting the kind of information you need to make a decision, don’t hesitate to end an interview. Simply tell the candidate that you think you’ve asked all the questions you need to and thank him or her for taking the time to meet with you. At the end of every interview you should give the candidate some indication of when you will have your decision made, and you should also advise them of whether you will call only if they are successful or if you will call to let them know if they are unsuccessful as well. Try to remain polite and respectful throughout (which can be hard if you know that you most definitely do not want to live with someone) and remember the many terrible interviews you’ve sat through in the hopes of securing housing – then do the opposite!