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.

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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
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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.