Homesharing presents a unique and promising opportunity for many but finding the right housemate can be daunting. In our last post we discussed various methods to vet a potential housemate - now let’s dive a little deeper into the reference checking process.
What Do You Want to Know?
First, it’s important to understand your goals. Ask yourself, what sort of information are you looking to gather through these references? Of course, you’re looking to flag potential issues and get a sense of compatibility with your possible future housemate. The act of checking an applicant’s references is especially useful in gaining an accurate understanding of who they are as a person; reference checking allows you to compare and contrast your first impressions of that applicant with testimonies from people who have interacted with them in the past. It's a useful tool to check to see that an applicant is speaking truthfully of themselves and their habits, confirmed by others who have already gotten to know them.
Talk to More Than One Reference
You have choices when it comes to the kind of references you can request. Employers, coworkers, landlords, roommates, friends, and family each offer a slightly different insight into your potential new housemate and their quirks. A close friend, for instance, would likely know more about the applicant’s cleanliness and living habits than a coworker would. It’s useful to have a reference who is truly close to the applicant, who knows their background and peculiarities. That’s why you should request a variety of references to ensure you’re getting a full picture of your potential future housemate – it's important that you feel comfortable and confident with your choice!
What to Ask
The actual act of reference checking can be tricky to navigate, but we’re here to help! When you reach out to a candidate’s references, be sure to ask questions that will shed light on your compatibility (or lack thereof).
You might want to ask about the applicant’s communication style and how they typically deal with conflict. Try to get a better understanding of the applicant’s personality and their standards of cleanliness. You want to get a feel for their lifestyle, too and how it could mesh with yours.
Use this opportunity as a chance to meet the people close to the applicant, which will give you an idea of the type of person that the candidate surrounds themself with; if they do become your housemate, it’s likely that you’ll encounter their friends sooner or later. Reference checking with a close friend allows you to briefly become acquainted with your potential future house guests as well as gain insight into the applicant themselves.
What to Do with the Information You Receive
Now, what do you do with the information you’ve gained? Keep in mind, references only act to strengthen your application process; take what you’ve learned with a grain of salt. References are a great way to give you an objective outlook on a potential housemate and their habits, and they can provide a uniquely intimate look into the lifestyle of your applicant. However, you should consider their bias as well. If your applicant submitted a person’s contact information to you, it’s because they think that reference will paint them in a positive light. References aren’t always entirely accurate, so it’s helpful to request two or three for a well-rounded view of an applicant. Reference checking isn’t a stand-alone process; you’ll still need to vet applicants. However, it can provide a special perspective to help you in your decision-making process, and to prevent unforeseen problems down the line.
Still wondering how to go about checking references? We’re happy to help, and we encourage you to reach out to our experienced team at HomeShare Alliance. We can help you on your search for the ideal housemate to suit your lifestyle.