Once you've found a roommate candidate or two, have an honest conversation about your needs, habits and quirks. This conversation may begin as an email exchange, but once a candidate appears favorable, continue your chat in person. Your goal is to feel completely comfortable about living with this person before you decide to sign a lease.
Don't be afraid to ask many questions of a candidate, even if you think that some of them may be too personal. For example:
- How would the candidate be able to afford the rent and utilities?
- Would it bother one of you if the other smokes?
- Is one of you a neat-freak while the other doesn't like to clean up after himself?
- Does one of you prefer peace and quiet while the other likes to play loud music?
- What are your thoughts about throwing parties in your apartment or having frequent guests?
- If pets are allowed, do either of you want one?
- If the landlord offers a storage unit, will you split the space 50-50?
Also, if a candidate is someone you don't know, ask the candidate for references (co-workers, family members, and friends) who can vouch for her.
If you don't like the answers you're hearing from a roommate candidate, don't get discouraged. It means your good screening efforts just saved both of you from a bad roommate experience, and you're now one candidate closer to finding the right person.