How to conduct an interview for Opensource.com

Interviews are a great way to cover popular industry topics and hear from open source leaders on what's new in open source software, hardware, and/or methodologies. This page is your resource for initiating, conducting, and publishing an interview on Opensource.com from start to finish.

Contact an editor on the team for assistance or with questions.


To initiate the interview

#1 : You can either propose to interview a person, company, project, or community by emailing an Opensource.com editor for approval.Or, the interview may have been suggested by an Opensource.com editor and you agreed to conduct it.

#2 : If you will be making first contact with the interviewee, send an email to the person you have identified as the best contact to introduce yourself and ask if they are interested in answering some questions for Opensource.com via email. Include topics for discussion (and a deadline if necessary).

first contact email template

Hi (name of interviewee),

I am a community moderator (or other title) with Opensource.com and we are interested in interviewing you for an article on the site.

(Explain here why you find them and their work interesting; relate it to anything relevant going on in the news or industry; mention what type of questions you would like to ask.)

Opensource.com has an engaged audience of open source enthusiasts: 13,000+ Twitter followers, 8,600+ Facebook fans, and 200,000+ page views per month. (updated 9/13)

If you are interested, please let me know and I will send you the questions. Please answer them via email. (Add something about a deadline/timeline if there is a need to do that here.)

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you,

(your name)

Or, if you have been introduced via email to the person to interview by an Opensource.com editor, pick up there conversation there by introducing yourself again, sending your questions, and explaining the goals of the interview.

introduction via editor email

Hi (name of interviewee),

I am...

I look forward to working with you. (include deadline if needed)

The goal of this interview is... (more on this below)

Here are the questions, please answer via email...

Thank you for your time,

(your name)

#3 : If the interview is accepted after first contact, send your interview questions to an Opensource.com editor for approval.

First, come up with a sentence or two that describes the purpose and goals of this interview. For example, if I wanted to interview an intern from the Outreach for Women program I might tell her: The goal of this article is to share your experience, tell your story. Whatever nuggets of truth, or help, or interest that come to mind as you are thinking of your answer, please add write them down. Feel free to share your opinion. Share also anything that might encourage others to step into their own limelight in life/in software/in the tech industry. This addresses the kind of information and detail I'd like to get out of her answers. That is the goal of giving your interviewee a sentence or two about what the article aims to achieve. It will help you get better and lengtheir answers.

ideas for basic questions

  • How do you use open source software/hardware/philosophies in daily practice?
  • What repository do you use? What license?
  • How does management at (name of company) encourage open source business practices?
  • What is your flagship product and how does it excite/change the industry? What problems does it solve?
  • How can the community engage with (business/company/product)?
  • Who is your open source mentor/hero?
  • How does someone get involved with your work/project?

tips for more specific quesitons

  • Research the person, find out what projects they are working on
  • Find out more about the project(s), what is it trying to accomplish / what problems does it solve?
  • Get behind the scenes information, fun details

To conduct the interview

#4 : When you get approval from the Opensource.com editor, then send the questions to the interviewee and discuss a timeline for getting the answers back. Generally, give the person 2-3 weeks or more to return the questions.

#5 : When you recieve the questions back, thank them for their time and tell them you will send the article for their final review soon. You will do this most likely by cutting/pasting the article into an email.

To publish the interview

#6 : Write an introduction for the article.

#7 : Send your introduction with the full interview to an Opensource.com editor for entering and editing.

#8 : When the Opensource.com editor sends you the final version of the article, review it and send to the interviewee for final review. Ask them to let you know if there are any changes to be made.

#9 : Send changes or give approval to Opensource.com editor to publish.

#10 : After the article is published, an Opensource.com editor will follow-up with the interviewee to let them know their post is live on the site.

Note: URLs for interviews follows this format = http://opensource.com/channel/interview-name-of-person-name-of-company

To postpone an interview

There will be times when your efforts to recieve interview questions back from someone will not work out. Though you have confirmed the interview and they have accepted questions, there will be times that the interviewee has not sent answers back to you after a long wait. If it has been more than 3 months since you sent the questions, that is a good time to send an email to the person or your point of contact letting the person know that you will not continue to pursue the interview at this time, however if the interviewee should become able to answer the questions, to please let you know. It is important to let them know that you (the interviewer) value the relationship and understand that time may open up in the future. 

email guide / template

Hi (name of interviewee or point of contact),

I'm writing in regards to the interview questions I sent over on (month/date here) for an article with Opensource.com. At this point, let's postpone the interview until there is a better time for you to send your responses. We value this relationship and understand that a better time may open up for you in the future. If that happens, please let me know.

Thank you for your time,

(your name)

 

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