Including open source in the hiring process

Jordi Boggiano • February 22, 2010


We were discussing the difficulty of the hiring process from a company point of view last week at the github meetup in Paris, and more specifically how hard it is to get quality people without relying on test assignments, which most agree are total bullshit, or on a couple of interviews, which can also be very misleading since it depends a lot on the person's social skills, or lack thereof.

One big thing that is overlooked in my opinion is participation in open source projects, be it a single patch or long term commitment. As an employer you can see that the guy has enough interest in programming in general that he has taken the extra step to contribute something, and also that his work was accepted by a peer as valid. It is obviously not the full story and we all know some open source projects' code is utter crap (disclaimer, this also applies to closed source software, you just don't get to see it), but I still believe it gives you a better metric than just some code the guy did (or didn't) code and is presenting to you during an interview.

You can use ohloh to track your open-source-CV of sorts, and I would very much like it if more companies would push the open source involvement forward in their job ads, probably not as a requirement but at least as a big plus. It would benefit both companies that are trying to hire good people, and good people to be recognized. Of course it would also benefit the open source community at large if the work you do there gets you more recognition, pushing more people to take the leap to contribute. It is definitely helping already, if only for the contacts you get, which are always good when looking for a job, but increasing the perceived benefit of contributing to the open source world would be great, so I would very much like if all you HR people would give it a thought, and other readers please mention it to HR in your company, or your friends looking for work, your little brother starting to study, anyone can contribute.

Any other ideas on how to find great developers? Is your company using open source as a criteria? Did it help?