How to Screen Potential Housemates


There's a lot of work that goes into finding the right housemate for your HomeShare. Once you've put together an ad and posted it on the right channels, the next step is to have an organized system in place for screening applicants. Here are our tips:


Create a checklist and interview questions


Your checklist and interview questions will be completely dependant on your own needs, what you're comfortable with, and your lifestyle. Some common questions to ask include things like current employment, lifestyle, habits, etc.


It's important to note that opposites don't always attract when it comes to living with a housemate. Know yourself, be open-minded and realistic about your deal breakers – smoking, drinking, pets –things that you just can't live with (or without).


Other deal breakers may be age or gender. It's totally fine if, based on your comfort level, you'd prefer to screen out applicants who are of a different age or gender than yourself. Remember, your goal is to find a housemate that you will feel comfortable living with.


Are you open to adventure? It may be nice to learn about a different culture through your housemate. Or, perhaps you prefer to live with someone who follows the same cultural mores as you. Be honest with yourself about what you need and are looking for in a housemate.


Be consistent


It's hard to compare apples to oranges. To ensure your comparison is fair and as unbiased as possible, you need to be consistent about the information you collect and track for each candidate.

Prepare questions ahead of time and ask the same questions in the same format to each candidate. This will ensure you remember to ask each candidate all the questions and allow for a fair comparison.


Take notes during the conversation or ask if you can record the discussion so you can reflect on the conversation later. Taking notes or a recording will help you remain objective in your search.


Avoid the halo effect


People in the field of Human Resources may already be aware of the term "halo effect". As Very Well Mind explains, "This is a type of cognitive bias in which our overall impression of a person influences how we feel and think about their character. Essentially, your overall impression of a person ("She is nice!") impacts your evaluations of that person's specific traits ("She is also smart!"). Perceptions of a single trait can carry over to how people perceive other aspects of that person." The halo effect often causes us to ask less difficult questions when we like a person, which is why it's important to stick to your checklist and ask each person the same questions, in the same way.


Trust your gut


On paper one candidate may be a better "fit" than another, which is worth considering. Still, it's important to trust your instincts. Listen to your gut and weigh those feelings when making your decision. Remember, finding the right housemate is different than leasing an apartment with someone because you’re living with the person you choose.


Be safe


Your safety is always paramount and it's important that you protect yourself while screening candidates. Never give out personal information over the phone, and don't give out your address – speak in generalities about the location of the neighbourhood only. When it comes time to meet someone, do a virtual meeting first. For an in-person visit, always have a friend or family member come with you and schedule that meeting in a public place.


Still have questions? We encourage you to reach out to the team at HomeShare Alliance for more information or assistance in finding a housemate who is the right fit for you!


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