You need to get your website on the net, so you need a reliable, secure and efficient hosting service. Each person has his / her particular requirements to fulfill from the chosen webhost. So, I appreciate the fact that 'You do not choose the hosting, the Hosting chooses you'.
You should not buy webhosting in a hurry, rather you should calmly survey all your options and make a list of features that you need, and compare the web hosts with your feature list and see if you find your perfect match or not. But, its not a piece of cake, because most people do not know what to expect from their hosting. It can get really frustrating, if your host suddenly bumps and your site goes down. Your users will not be amused by any such mishap and you may lose all your reputation that you built over time. So, keep the following things in mind:
1) Features: You need to be sure of all the technical features that you require of your hosting. Make a check list of features that you need. Through my experience, I have made a list of basic tech features that a person should expect: A friendly control panel (cPanel, vDeck, Plesk are my favorites in order), your choice of scripting language extensions (PHP, ASP, CGI, PERL etc.), SQL Databases, Addon Domains, Domain Redirections, Stats, Logs, Fantastico (Great Tool! Allows you to install over 40 free scripts in just a few clicks).
2) Customer Support: A good measure of a webhost's reputation can be gauged by availability of a Toll-Free Customer Support number (that works), a Live Chat facility on the site which you should use and chat with the sales department and discuss your requirements with them before buying. Most hosts claim to provide a 24/7 support. But, you should look out for any Knowledgebase, FAQ's, Forum, or any other support feature that the host may provide.
3) Company Overview: If a webhost has been in business for more than 5+ years, or if it has thousands of clients hosted with them, then you can be sure that the host is reliable. Although, I would suggest you take a look at the Company Overview (About Us) page and also if they have any info about their data centers.
4) Hosting Plans: Choosing the right hosting plan for you is very important. Shared hosting plans vary from $ 4.99 / mo to $ 9.99 / mo. So that means, there's not much of a price demand. What you need is to check is whether you're getting the best deal out of the price you are paying. In most cases, if there are 3-tier plans, then the best choice is the middle one where you get the best value for money.
5) Customer Feedback: Read the customer testimonials / feedback for the concerned webhost. Frequently, you will find that the host will have thrown in a bag full of goodies in their hosting plans. But, are they actually that good? You need to know that from people who have already hosted with them. So, for customer / professional reviews, visit third party sites, like Hosting Site Reviews, where you can judge the host's reputation and decide whether you really want to go in with them or not.
I hope you will keep these in mind while making the right choice for the webhosting that you need, and that it will come to you naturally that 'You do not choose the hosting. In the end, the Hosting chooses you '.