Psychological Tricks To Help You Choose A Housemate

Photographed by Matilda Hill-Jenkins.
It’s a weird world to be in when you’re able to spend several weeks deciding whether or not to drop £50 on a haircut but only 15 minutes deciding who you want to live with, isn’t it?
Nevertheless, thanks to the current housing crisis, where shared houses and flats in overcrowded cities are par for the course, choosing to share your living space with a stranger after just one brief meeting isn’t only the norm, it’s become our way of life.
As those of you who’ve experienced the shared house thing will know, these hastily decided house-shares don't always work out. And no wonder – how were you supposed to guess that your new roommate would be a drug fiend who likes to blow off steam by vacuuming at 3am, when you only met them during the ad break for First Dates after a long day of auditioning potential housemates? Anyone can put on a nice and polite face for 15 minutes.
So if you and your housemates have found yourselves in the familiar situation of having a spare room to fill and a whole bunch of applicants to meet, how best to choose the right one to live with after just a brief meeting?
Bear in mind that, most of the time, things are going to work out just fine. In fact, a recent survey from SpareRoom found that 59% of people think strangers tend to make the best flatmates, as opposed to direct friends. And there’s plenty of logic to this; who would you rather have an awkward conversation with about why paying rent is necessary: your pal who you just want to have fun with? Or a stranger you’re likely never to fully click with and feel no responsibility for?
To find out how to pick the right person, though, we decided to look for a little help. Donna Dawson is a behavioural and personality psychologist. We asked her for some tips on how to pick up on hints that your potential new housemate is good material or a total wrong’un, in just 15 minutes.