Hiring Managers, what are you looking for when vetting someone who has contributed to a FOSS project?

Hey all, I had a few quick questions about hiring at your company and how you look at someone’s FOSS contribution history. We are trying to make the First Commit initiative more impactful in building a bigger contributor base, so any other suggestions in that direction will also be very helpful. I have included the questions down below, but do feel free to add/edit them if I am missing out or asking the wrong questions.

  • Is it hard to find people with FOSS contribution history, if yes, what do you expect would be a must have? experience working on their own/small community projects or small contributions to large projects?
  • What is most important to you about them, prior experience with stack, prior experience in domain, or ability to think out of the box and innovate?
  • How important is their contributions to FOSS in this context, do you look for initiative(Getting started with, but might be on the wrong footing, e.g. choosing a project they don’t understand well enough and stumbling around) or just interest(Trying to get started, but waiting for the right project)?

Yep. Anecdotally, this is maybe 1 in 100, probably worse.

Project size or type don’t really matter for a general dev role. Attention to detail, effort, and quality are important factors.

Experience with certain technologies matter. If one’s looking for a frontend dev, then experience in frontend tech is important. Domain knowledge matters for certain specific roles. Just because there’s a dev role in a finance company does not mean financial domain knowledge is relevant. Ability to think and innovate, yep.

Bit of everything and the distribution changes based on the expectations for the role.


We are about to start looking to hire additional folks for Glific (job post announcement coming soon). A few things that would definitely elevate our interest in talking to someone include:

  • Experience in our current stack or in similar areas. So for a front-end developer, we would like them to be fairly good at either React, Angular or Vue.
  • Have a GitHub repo and their work out there
  • Contributions to an existing FOSS project would be great
  • Curious and passionate about stuff in and around the work they are doing. Aware of things happening in the tech world and/or some of the current trends

Someone who has been able to successfully contribute to a FOSS project already has crossed many hurdles - right from understanding the project, architecture, identifying an issue good enough to fix, understanding project guidelines, coding standards and also demonstrates persistence. Specially if it is on a major project.

A lot of people now have personal projects / exercises on GitHub. The quality is still a problem.

Pretty sure, anyone with a FOSS contribution will find it much easier to find a job.

The ability to explain in detail what they achieved. I recently interviewed someone who had made a contribution on emacs and I asked him about the architecture of the problem, how did he find out the bug. While we hire web-devs, anyone with sufficient passion and interest can usually find a place in our team.

Ultimately its the quality of the candidate that stands out. I agree with @knadh, it the full package.