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 practices. This page is your resource for initiating, conducting, and publishing an interview on Opensource.com.
Contact an editor on the team for assistance or with questions.
See examples of our interview series:
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 have 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 questions via email. Typically, interviews are conducted via email; however if you wish to conduct your interview in person or over the phone, you are welcome to do that. Please let an editor know which method you plan to use. In your introduction to the interviewee, include a due date for their responses to your questions if necessary (typically, it is necessary).
Or, if you have been introduced via email to the person to interview by an Opensource.com editor, pick up the conversation there by introducing yourself, sending your questions, and explaining the goals of the interview.
Example first contact email template
Hi (name of interviewee),
I am a writer (or other title) for Opensource.com (also include other jobs/roles you would like to note). I am interested in interviewing you for an article about (explain the nature of the interview and include the name of the themed-content focus if there is one).
(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 with ~24,000 Twitter followers, 118,000+ Facebook fans, and 600,000+ page views per month.
If you are interested, I would send you 5-10 questions and need your responses by (add the due date). Please answer the questions via email.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you,
#3 : If the interview is accepted after first contact, draft your interview questions, and then send them first to an Opensource.com editor for approval.
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 questions
- Research the person, find out what projects they are working on or the talk they are giving at a conference
- 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 : After you get approval from the Opensource.com editor on your questions, email your questions to the interviewee (including the due date for their responses). You should have received this information from an editor, if not, please ask the editor for the due date. In general, we want to give the interviewee 2-3 weeks or more to return their responses to the questions.
#5 : When you receive the questions back, thank the interviewee for their time and tell them you will be in touch soon for a final review of the article before it is published. You will allow them to give a final review of the article at that point by cutting/pasting the article into an email to them.
To publish the interview
#6 : Read their responses to your questions and then write an appropriate introduction for the article. If the interview is for an event/conference or themed content week, such as Open Science, include that in your article introduction. Give a short summary of what the reader has to look forward to in this interview.
#7 : Then, send your introduction along with the full interview (your questions and their responses) to an Opensource.com editor for preparation and editing.
#8 : The Opensource.com editor will let you know they have received it and will email you back when it is ready for your and the interviewee's final review.
#9 : Copy/paste the full article in an email to the interviewee and ask them to review it and let you know whether there are any changes to be made.
#10 : If there are changes to be made, send them to an Opensource.com editor to make. If there are no changes and the article is approved, let an Opensource.com editor know it is ready to be published.
To postpone an interview
Occasionally efforts to receive interview questions back from someone will not work out. Although you have confirmed the interview and they have accepted questions, they may not return responses, even after you've sent follow up email reminders. If the interview isn't time-constricted (e.g., part of a series leading up to a conference), contact the interviewee and let them know that they can follow-up with us at a later, more convenient time. Letting them know that you (the interviewer) value the relationship and understand that time may open up in the future is important. If the interview is timely and we won't be able to run it because of time-constraints, let the interviewee know that we would like to hear from them in the future and they can contact us with open source story proposals at their convenience.
Example email to cancel interview
Hi (name of interviewee or point of contact),
I'm writing in regards to the interview questions I sent on (month/date) for an article with Opensource.com. At this point, let's postpone the interview until there is a better time for the questions to be answered and responses sent. We value this relationship and understand that a better time may open up in the future. If that happens, please let me know.
Thank you for your time,