Questions For Potential Roommates

When searching for a roommate, there are details and bits of information you need to obtain before settling in with another person. But before you shoot them out to your interviewee, you will definitely want to answer them yourself. Not only will it help you narrow your candidate preferences, but they will also provide you with ready answers should you be the one getting roped in for an interview. Fumble no more with roommate interviews as we guide you through a list of questions for potential roommates, all categorized by topic so you don’t jump haphazardly from one subject to another (and to help you further brainstorm relevant questions).

1. What do you do for a living?

A super important detail you need to know about your roommate is whether or not they have a stable income. Also, while this may seem harsh, ask if they’ve ever had trouble making ends meet on that income. This saves you from covering their rent (or even daily expenses like food) later on.

Other work-related details that need to be discussed upfront include work schedules. Do you mind if one of you stays up late finishing a project? Some people may be okay with roommates that pull all-nighters all the time, but others may feel bothered with sounds coming from the kitchen at 1am when their roommate needs coffee.

Some companies offer flexible work hours that allow employees to work from home (and even on weekends). Ask about working from home to prevent you from losing precious time and space to yourself because your roommate never leaves the apartment (or having your roommate intrude an important online meeting).

2. Do you get visitors often?

Ask if there will be friends frequently coming over or having sleepovers throughout the week.  If so, how often and how long do they usually stay? Do any of you like to invite groups of friends over? Make sure that nobody gets upset about the noise or having strangers in the apartment. 

Additionally, take note of friends and relatives from out-of-town (or even abroad) that might want to stay over.  Discuss if you’re allowed to use shared spaces such as the living room for an extra sleeping area.

A sensitive topic that you need to deal with is having romantic relationships thrown in the mix. Sometimes, it is best to have romantic partners involved during a roommate interview. Seeing your potential roommate interact with their partner should give you an idea of what to expect when said partners are over (or whether or not you’d stand to have the partner around at all).

3. What kind of roommate are you?

Asking the early bird or night owl question is all fine and dandy if you don’t want your sleeping habits interrupted, but you need to cover on the basics first.

  • Start with cleaning. Do you clean up your dishes directly after meals or pile them in the sink for later? Are you diligent with house chores or need to be reminded with charts? Which house chores you want to take turns doing? How would you both divide your laundry days?
  • Next, move on to cooking. How often do you spend time in the kitchen? Are you okay with sharing ingredients like vegetables and spices? If you’d like, you can even agree to cook for each other (or one can cook while the other supplies the ingredients).
  • An important topic you need to include in the conversation is dietary restrictions. Be clear if you’re not comfortable with having certain types of meat in your refrigerator due to religious reasons. People with a food intolerance also need to warn prospective roommates to keep certain items out of the kitchen. 
  • Speaking of health, are either of you allergic to anything? If any of you have pets or plan to have pets in the future, make sure the other won’t have a sneezing fit when there’s fur around (or if one of you feels averse to having animals around in the first place).
  • Then, there’s the issue of smoking. Is smoking allowed inside the apartment or only out on the balcony? Are you even okay with a smoking roommate? Disclose other health issues that might impact your day-to-day activities such as asthma and hypertension.
  • Finally, discuss sharing appliances. They can range from dishes and cooking utensils to sanitary products like hand soap and detergent. If you installed wi-fi using your own money, let your roommate know how they can help pay for it if you’re sharing. Discuss the items you do and don’t mind sharing, even if it’s something as trivial as scissors and umbrellas.

4. How do you interact with other roommates?

Just like in dating, personality is the determining factor when it comes to compatibility.

  • For starters, are you an introvert or extrovert? Some introverts may have a hard time putting up with an extrovert’s need for regular talk, but others may be fine with having a housemate on the opposite spectrum.
  • Next, what kind of relationship do you want to form with your roommate? Most people look for roommates to get a new BFF they can spend weekends and Friday nights with, while others prefer to keep interactions to a minimum. Whatever your intentions are, be open about it. 
  • Being considerate of your respective levels of privacy is a must, and that extends to modesty. You’ll be saved from awkward episodes if you already know that your roommate doesn’t lock the door when showering.

From there, you can segue into the worst personal quirks you can expect from each other. In turn, negotiate pet peeves to avoid any potential conflict.

  • Minimizing sources of conflict doesn’t guarantee that you will never encounter one. How do you solve conflicts? Compare each other’s conflict resolution style to avoid complicating internal or external conflicts should they arise.

You can easily deduce such details from their history with previous roommates. A big ol’ red flag is when you notice that they’ve been having nothing but bad experiences and shifting blame onto all of their previous roommates. If you need further digging, see if you can find trustworthy references you can contact.  Ask friends who know them well for over a year or just approach former roommates.

When everything is said and done, give yourself some time and think things over. You can’t keep on searching for the perfect roommate (especially if you’re tight on rent), but at least be the best judge of character when you’re about to spend most of your time with another person

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