The annual Open Source Jobs Report from Dice and The Linux Foundation reveals a lot about prospects for open source professionals and hiring activity in the year ahead. In this year’s report, 86 percent of tech professionals said that knowing open source has advanced their careers. Yet what happens with all that experience when it comes time for advancing within their own organization or applying for a new roles elsewhere?
Interviewing for a new job is never easy. Aside from the complexities of juggling your current work while preparing for a new role, there’s the added pressure of coming up with the necessary response when the interviewer asks “Do you have any questions for me?”
At Dice, we’re in the business of careers, advice, and connecting tech professionals with employers. But we also hire tech talent at our organization to work on open source projects. In fact, the Dice platform is based on a number of Linux distributions and we leverage open source databases as the basis for our search functionality. In short, we couldn’t run Dice without open source software, therefore it’s vital that we hire professionals who understand, and love, open source.
Over the years, I’ve learned the importance of asking good questions during an interview. It’s an opportunity to learn about your potential new employer, as well as better understand if they are a good match for your skills.
Here are three essential questions to ask and the reason they’re important:
1. What is the company’s position on employees contributing to open source projects or writing code in their spare time?
The answer to this question will tell you a lot about the company you’re interviewing with. In general, companies will want tech pros who contribute to websites or projects as long as they don’t conflict with the work you’re doing at that firm. Allowing this outside the company also fosters an entrepreneurial spirt among the tech organization, and teaches tech skills that you may not otherwise get in the normal course of your day.
2. How are projects prioritized here?
As all companies have become tech companies, there is often a division between innovative customer facing tech projects versus those that improve the platform itself. Will you be working on keeping the existing platform up to date? Or working on new products for the public? Depending on where your interests lie, the answer could determine if the company is a right fit for you.
3. Who primarily makes decisions on new products and how much input do developers have in the decision-making process?
This question is one part understanding who is responsible for innovation at the company (and how close you’ll be working with him/her) and one part discovering your career path at the firm. A good company will talk to its developers and open source talent ahead of developing new products. It seems like a no brainer, but it’s a step that’s sometimes missed and will mean the difference between a collaborative environment or chaotic process ahead of new product releases.
Interviewing can be stressful, however as 58 percent of companies tell Dice and The Linux Foundation that they need to hire open source talent in the months ahead, it’s important to remember the heightened demand puts professionals like you in the driver’s seat. Steer your career in the direction you desire.