The Stack Overflow Podcast

At your next job interview, you ask the questions

Episode Summary

The home team convenes to discuss the end of the GPU shortage, how the no-code/low-code movement is impacting developers, and why job candidates should flip the script and interview their interviewers.

Episode Notes

The GPU shortage is (allegedly) over! Read about it at The Verge.

Learn how low code demands more creativity from developers.

On the job market? Don’t be afraid to turn the tables on your interviewer.

This week’s tech recs: Help foster more equitable compensation conversations by taking Devocate’s Developer Relations Compensation Survey. offers scheduling infrastructure for anyone and everyone—and it’s open-source.

Appsmith is an open-source, low-code platform for building, shipping, and maintaining CRUD apps.

Finally, if you’re wondering how to get that startup idea from back-of-napkin to exit, start with Kernal.

Episode Transcription

Ceora Ford I think it's always worth reiterating how much power you should have as the interviewee during the interview process. From first glance, it might look like you're at a disadvantage– like you're trying to basically convince someone to pay you a living wage so you can take care of your needs and exist in this world. But at the same time, you should realize too that you are interviewing them, you're offering them something special as well, so it's just as important for you to take full advantage of the interview process. So if they're asking you questions, you should be asking questions back. And this article lists out five questions to ask that could help you, based off of the answers, decide or see if this is a good fit for you.

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BP Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the Stack Overflow Podcast, a place to talk all things software and technology. I am your host, Ben Popper, joined as I often am by my wonderful crew of co-hosts, Ceora Ford, Cassidy Williams, and Matt Kiernander. How's it going, y'all? 

Cassidy Williams Hello!

Matt Kiernander Hello!

CF Hi! 

BP So the first link here in the news section is, “The Great GPU Shortage is Allegedly Over,” written by an old colleague of mine from The Verge, this guy Sean Hollister, who I can confirm is the kind of PC gaming nerd that has been keeping a spreadsheet tracking the availability and prices of all GPUs at several big box stores for however many months. He's got a few charts in here that he made. But yeah, this has been one of the really interesting sort of knock on effects for people who work in software and technology of the crypto boom and now bust, is that these graphics units that were meant for high end PC gaming or video editing or 3D modeling ended up being really good at mining for cryptocurrency, and so they all got bought up and now I guess they're coming back on the market. So I would love to hear your takes, or if you're in the market for one, is now the time to snap one up?

CW I am in the market and I'm excited. This might be a cynical question– do you think it's over because crypto is down?

BP I do think so. I think a lot of the air has gone out of the crypto market. There were a lot of people mining coins two months ago that those coins are now worth nothing or they're worth pennies on the dollar. And I also read, I don't know if this is true, that a lot of folks had sort of bought their mining rigs on margin, like used a loan or used leverage to get them, and now as some of those big bets are coming unwound, they're having to sell their mining rigs and things like that. And so GPUs are re-entering the market in that way. 

MK Also allegedly Nvidia and AMD have actually overestimated the demand for the graphics cards, so they ordered a hell of a lot from TSMC and now are trying to kind of renege on some of those orders because there's too many, which is fantastic for us.

CW Dang. Great for us. 

BP Yeah, great for the consumer. 

CW Oh no, a sale! 

CF I'm laughing because we just talked about this a little while ago. Cassidy, I believe you were saying you were in the market for one and just couldn't find one that was reasonably priced. So I'm really happy for you. 

CW Right. Thanks! I'm happy for me too. 

BP This is like the software nerd, PC gamer’s version of what's happening in the broader economy which is kind of interesting, which is that the pandemic arrived, everything changed, sometimes factories closed, supply routes closed down, and for a while the supply chain meant lots of things were really hard to get. There was a chip shortage, we had episodes about the chip shortage. Now the pendulum is swinging the other way. Like Matt said, people ordered a ton and now all of a sudden they're getting all this inventory, but in some cases demand has now waned. So another example is the big box stores and like Home Depot’s of the world could not keep enough merchandise on the shelves. Now it's the opposite, they have too much inventory and they're starting to do big sales because they kind of over ordered.

CW Which is great because I need to do some work. 

BP Cassidy’s in the market for home repair, GPU, what are you not in the market for? 

CW It was very rough last year, but right now it's great because just like you said, we were saying, “Okay, well, this repair is probably going to cost us X amount of money,” and then we went to the hardware store this past weekend and we were like, “Wait a minute. This is like thousands of dollars cheaper than we thought it was going to be, purely because everything's on sale now.” And I'm not complaining, I'm very happy. 

BP Well that is another thing I've been reading a bunch about and thinking a bunch about. People keep saying, “Are we in a recession? Are we going into a recession?” And I read a good story today which said in every other sort of classic recession or depression, what you see is inflation go up and also unemployment really go up. And this one is a little bit strange because the stock market is way down, inflation is way up, but the number of people who are unemployed has not gone way up. In fact, there's still sort of a shortage of labor. So it's a weird one where there's like a disconnect and maybe in a good way, like the stock market does not equal the economy or the health of the consumer, and consumers still have a ton of savings and a lot of job opportunities so it's an unusual recession we're entering. 

CW Hopefully that means with all these people with jobs, they can stimulate the economy by buying things and it won't be as heavily impacting as otherwise. 

BP I think so too, because for the decades before that there was kind of the opposite. The stock market was going boom but wages were stagnant. And now we've seen wages change a lot so I'm hoping that these two things are not necessarily connected and they can sort of move independently, but we'll see. 

MK It's a good point because the housing market is also allegedly going to be going through some trouble soon. I know in New Zealand for any New Zealander listeners out there, the average house price decreased by 4% over a one month period. 

CW That's a big drop. 

MK It's a huge drop, and anytime that's happened there's been a huge either recession or a housing bubble burst. And so far nothing has happened yet. House prices just dropped, so it's a very weird time to be in because we've got all these things pointing to one direction but we do have high employment rates and everything else, so I don't know. 

BP Yeah, I think that's right. We lived through a once-in-a-century pandemic. That was pretty weird. And now there's all these secondary effects, like how will this unravel and what will it do to the economy? Yeah, I think it's going to be new. 

CF I'm sorry, “That was pretty weird” is such a fun way to describe the pandemic. 

BP It was pretty weird I thought. 

MK I feel like that would be a Google review somewhere of the 2020 pandemic. “Kind of weird – Ben Popper.” 

BP Yeah. All right, the second link here, “How low-code demands more creativity from developers.” 

MK Yeah. So I'm writing an article at the moment for basically how low-code might impact developers moving forward, and doing some of the research it has been interesting to see what people's takes on it are because everyone seems to have a different opinion. I'm quite positive on the impact of low-code and no-code on software developers. I think it's going to take out basically a lot of automation and I guess grunt work that is typically tasked for us and we get to focus on more creative, unique, interesting problems, which is where we add the most value. It'll basically free us up to do more unique work and then other citizen developers who are part of the organization will be able to kind of take control and have these tools automate a lot of processes for us. I'm very curious as to what everyone else thinks. Do you use low-code tools at the moment? Are you quite encouraging of using them in the workplace? What is your take on it? 

CW I think they're a good thing in general. I admit I've had some not good experiences where I'll make something and then I want to customize it and the tool can't handle it and I break everything because I write the code and then I can't even use the tool anymore, stuff like that. But in general, anything that makes more people makers on the internet or otherwise I think is a good thing to have, and it reduces a lot of barriers to entry for new roles and products and concepts and everything and I think it's a good thing. 

BP Yeah. You make a good point. 

CF Yeah. I think it's also a matter of determining what you are trying to accomplish, and like Cassidy was saying, how much creative control do you want over the thing that you're trying to do. Because I do find that with a lot of these low-code or even any tool that's supposed to make things a lot easier, sometimes the issue is that you feel like you don't have as much control over customizing things and making it exactly the way you want. So that's not going to be every project or task you're working on. You're not going to need full creative control and customizability with everything that you’re going to do, so I think you have to determine if that’s important for you right now or not.

BP Yeah. And I'll say another thing that kind of opens up the scope of what is a developer. When we used to do the Stack Overflow developer survey every year we would pass that to the data team, which was a group of folks from internal engineering, and they would work on it and then pass it back to us. Now the marketing team has its own data analyst who's comfortable in Python and our studio who does that work. I don’t know if he's using low-code tools, but the work of a developer has passed to someone who doesn't necessarily have that title, and same thing for marketing operations. We use a ton of different tools there and that person was a Drupal developer and has been sort of building and hacking on these tools for many years. So I don't know if that quite fits your description, Matt, of low-code, but it kind of fits a little bit of what you were saying, which is like, how does software development move sort of horizontally into these other parts of the business and people figure out how to automate or do data analysis using their own toolkit.

MK Yeah, exactly.

CW I was looking at a tool called Appsmith recently, and it's an open source, low-code tool for building internal tools. And so you can pass in any data source, whether it's an Excel spreadsheet, a CSV file, an API or anything like that, and it basically just has a bunch of UIs that can pull from it right away and then you can build a little dashboard or application with it, and it also has a JavaScript editor if you want to customize the data or what you're seeing even more. And I thought it was really interesting, it almost feels part way between the low-code and code because it has so much customizability, but I think this is a direction that a lot of products in general are going in because you want people to be able to build stuff without having to have a lot of education under their belts if possible.

CF Yeah, I wonder though how to strike a balance with that coming from a product perspective. I think a lot of companies that do these low-code tools don't necessarily make it so that you can also customize a ton if you want to, or you can add your own code on top of it if you want to. And I wonder if like this product you just mentioned, if companies are moving in that direction and how likely it is that we're going to see more of that, because I think that would be best. If you have the ability to just get up and running quickly without having to have a whole lot of background knowledge, or conversely, if you do want something that's going to make it easy to start off but over time you want to add to it and make it your own even moreso. I wonder if there's a lot of companies that currently are able to do that or are moving in that direction.

BP Right. 

MK There's a company called Webflow, which basically is very similar to Squarespace and Wix. I think it's a really good example of what a great low-code tool is because it exposes you to CSS properties like margins, flexbox, CSS grid, and a whole bunch of other developer specific terms, but it gives you like GUI toggles to go through anything so if you are non-technical, you can just kind of click around and do things. And then for developers as well, it also gives you the opportunity to completely export out all the code so you can go through it and then just load it up in an IDE and then tinker with it that way. And I think this might be more of a unique example where it is possible to export out your website's code and host it somewhere and do the thing, and with other things like Appsmith or more specific tools, it's a little bit harder to just give out everything and then give away that control because you might be dealing with more proprietary processes or APIs or whatever else that might be.

CW There's one other website I wanted to share and it's called and it's basically a marketplace for startup ideas where people will put in different ideas and then if anybody wants to work on it, they can say like, “Oh let's chat,” and it's just specifically for ideas. And I was chatting with the creators of this and nobody on their team are engineers. They built the entire website from the users, the tags, the forums, the upvotes, everything is built with no-code tools. And I thought it was very, very interesting because I didn't think it was possible. I knew you could build some things. It's kind of like what Ceora said, I didn't realize you could customize it that much. And it's a pretty impressive website to have been made with no-code by their team. It's

MK I think that's really what the whole low-code, no-code movement is about. It's just making the web more accessible to people for people to come in and do stuff like this without having to rely on a boutique software developer, or it gives them the autonomy to create stuff as you said. It allows more makers to be on the internet which I think is only a good thing for everyone.

BP Right. And so are these early stage or open source projects? What would motivate me to work on this? Just curiosity, or I become part of a team, or I get some shares? Why would I work on something I find at

CW Oh, so it's people sharing startup ideas and then you can get validation where people will be like, “Oh, this already exists,” or, “Oh, you should fix this or that,” or, “This is a more product market fit than what you're thinking,” something like that. And then you can also find co-founders or hires that want to work on it with you.

BP Interesting. Could get messy if you contribute some ideas early on and then the company goes to a billion, but it's cool that people want to do that. 

CW Probably. Honestly, I kind of just lightly subscribe to high level updates, but it's been wholesome so far anyway.

BP Okay. Very cool. 

MK I was looking at some of the companies that they've got there and there's one called FlushHour, which is reviews for public bathrooms essentially and it's got one of those construction porta potties and I just thought that was quite funny. I'm sorry if I threw anyone off with that.

BP Hey, it's a good idea. You always want to know before you try a public restroom. I want to say how many stars it has. All right, there's a cool link here for our last discussion topic. Interview the Interviewer. This comes from the GitHub Blog, the Read Me project which is full of great stuff. I think Cassidy had mentioned it before. This was written by VP of Product at Vercel, Kathy Korevec, and it's encouraging you to sort of turn the tables during an interview and ask some questions of the person who's interviewing you. So let me stop there after setting the stage and hear from the three of you if this is something you've done, if you think this sounds like a good idea, if you think this sounds scary. What's your take? 

CF Yeah, I added this to our show notes because I think it's always worth reiterating how much power you should have as the interviewee during the interview process. From first glance, it might look like you're at a disadvantage– you're trying to basically convince someone to pay you a living wage so that you can take care of your needs and exist in this world. But at the same time, you should realize too that you are interviewing them, you're offering them something special as well so it's just as important for you to take full advantage of the interview process. So if they're asking you questions, you should be asking questions back. And this article kind of lists out five questions to ask that could help you, based off of the answers, decide or see if this is a good fit for you. And like I said, I'm a big proponent of doing this kind of thing so I just wanted to discuss some of the questions here, or if you have any questions that you like to ask during interviews that you feel like help you out during the process, I'm definitely open to hearing all that.

CW I think that this is a very important thing for people to do. And just like you said Ceora, you often are just like, “Please give me a job, I want to pay for things.” But also companies hire because they need a person and companies want to hire you when they're interviewing you because that means that they don't have to interview anymore people. Interviewing is a very time intensive and expensive process for a lot of companies, and so if you do well, they are so happy because they get to hire someone and move on with their lives. And so it is very much a two-way street, and I do think that just because of especially US culture in general, but in general there’s the dynamic of, “You should be grateful that you're even getting this job opportunity” at a lot of companies, but it is very important to be able to turn those tables.

BP I think in the earlier article we just were talking about, the one about low-code, they were just sort of reflecting on some of the bigger trends and it said that the unemployment rate among tech workers, or maybe it was more specifically software developers, is 1.7%. So essentially what that means is the demand for great workers is extremely high, the number of people who can't find a job is extremely low, and so if there was ever a time when you should feel empowered to say, “You need to convince me I need this job as opposed to the other way around,” now is that time. I also think if you come in with an informed question about what the work is going to be like and it's based on your past experiences and you can say, “I know for a fact that I don't like to do this but I’m better at that,” or, “This is the style I work in,” that's a good way to figure out if there's actually a fit. If you're just trying to impress them, you might get the job and then be miserable there. If you can come in with a question that's like, “These are the things I've done in the past that I enjoyed and things that I didn't enjoy, so I would want to know what's it going to be like working at X company? Are we going to do it this way or that way?” That can also just avoid the mismatch which is, as Cassidy pointed out, good in the long term because hiring somebody who leaves after six months is the worst outcome for the business. They wasted all that time and energy hiring you and spending all that money and then you're gone and they're right back to square one. So you're kind of doing everybody a favor making sure that it's a good fit and also displaying some of your knowledge and some of your curiosity, like you've investigated the company a little bit and you have some questions about them. 

CF Yeah. I thought this first question was so funny– “How will I fail?” I was like, “That's a bold question to ask during an interview,” but I do think it is a good question to ask. Or at least sometimes what I'll say is, “What are the difficult parts of this role?” Something like that that's basically essentially the same thing, just because it gives you a good idea of some of the road bumps you might walk into and it also lets you know how deeply the interviewer has thought about the position too, which is one of the points that the author of the article made too. 

MK I think with a lot of job interviews and stuff like that you can say, “What will I do in this job?” And they'll list out 20 different things or whatever it is. Hopefully you're not doing 20 different things, but there'll be a lot of stuff that they'll be like, “You can do this and this and this,” but then when you flip the table and say, “What will be the fail criteria of this,” that is generally a very discrete, small amount of things that will give you a good idea of what you actually need to be delivering on to be successful in the role. So I do love this question as well. Another one that I really like to ask as well is, “How does the company handle failure?” And I think this is kind of referenced in the third question that they've got there. “Can you share an example of something that didn't go well and what do you do to course-correct?” And I love hearing about that kind of thing as an interviewee because it gives me a good idea of generally the culture and how things are handled, are there processes for when things do go wrong, how do you support the people that did make those mistakes to make sure that those won’t happen again, because that's much more of an indication of the processes within the company that make a big difference. 

BP Yeah, for sure.

CW One of the questions that I really like to ask and I might have mentioned it on the podcast before but we'll do it again, is, “What is the most important thing to the company– the product, the employees, or the customers?” There's no wrong answer to this question. And just because one is the most important over the other ones doesn't mean that the other ones aren't important, but it's interesting to see how a company prioritizes and what the number one thing is, and then also if that answer is consistent across all the interviewers that you're speaking with. If for example, you were to interview at Amazon, because one of their core values is so deeply customer obsession, if you ask that question, pretty much everybody on the team will say, “Oh, customers are the number one thing.” But if you talk to another company they might say, “Oh, employees. As long as the employees are happy that's what matters.” Then some people will say, “The product. We want to get to IPO and go in that direction.” None of those answers are wrong once again, but by asking that and hearing people's explanations and then seeing if it's consistent across the team, it speaks well to the company’s organization and communication and culture and just transparency in general and how they think about things. 

BP Good point.

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BP All right. Every time I promise to shout out people who write to us, so we got an email from Jason saying, “Cut to the chase. Stop putting the teaser clip at the beginning of each podcast. Your podcast is the right length anyway so don't waste my time.” We'll take it under consideration, Jason. If anybody's listening to this podcast and would like to weigh in, and if I get multiple emails saying to get rid of the cold intro, maybe we will. I don't know. Who knows? 

CW We have to make the cold intro like, “Welcome to the cold intro!” or something on this episode in particular. 

MK This is specifically for the person who emailed in!

BP Yeah, it doesn’t pump you up enough. The next cold intro will be me just reading that email verbatim to troll him.

CW That would actually be pretty good.

MK Yeah, that would be pretty funny. 

BP All right, we've got a few recs here. Two that were mentioned, Appsmith and So we talked about those on the show. Both interesting, we'll have them in the show notes. And the last one is from Devocate, “Creating More Equitable Communities.” 

MK Yeah, this is from me. I am a big proponent of open salary transparency, equitable compensation, and so whenever I see people making an effort to solve that problem within the tech space I would like to give it a shout out. So this particular survey is for people who work in the developer relations industry, whether you're a developer advocate, a technical content creator, or a technical writer, developer experience, anything kind of under the DevRel umbrella, they're basically doing an open survey to try and get a better understanding of compensation data within the developer relations space. The data around developer relations hasn't been as well established as say for example, software engineers, or anything that’s had a longer tenure in the tech market, so any kind of data that we can get around this is very, very helpful for people getting into the industry, understanding what they're worth, being able to use this data in a meaningful way when they're going through the salary negotiation process. It takes five minutes to do, everyone is part of that community, if you are part of that community I would really appreciate it. So please head on over to The link will be in the show notes below, and help out your community today, if you're comfortable doing so. 

BP All right. Help Matt ensure he's getting paid fairly. 

MK Essentially. 

BP Matt needs to know. 

CW Also speaking of, just on the transparency thing, I don't know if either of you have used, it's very similar to Calendly, it's open source Calendly pretty much. They are very open source and radically transparent and stuff and if you go to, they have all open statistics about their company internals and they're wildly transparent about it and I really respect it. It's neat all the graphs that they have on that page. 

BP Yeah. During these discussions I always wonder if I would thrive in that environment. Stack Overflow is by far the most transparent place in terms of sharing what's going on with the company and the financials. I find that to be great as an employee to know how we're doing, poorly or well, and not have that obfuscated in some way. But I always think to myself if I worked at a place where I could see everybody's salary it would just be like a nest of jealousy. I don't know, I'm just too old school I guess, or I need to experience it for myself and then see how it goes because I feel stressed out just thinking about it. I feel very stressed.

MK That's fair. 

CW Well, another episode we'll get into it.

BP Yeah, no, I want to hear other takes. I just had a confession. I needed to make that confession. All right, everybody. Thanks for listening. As always, I am Ben Popper. You can always find me on Twitter @BenPopper. Email us with questions or suggestions, And if you like the show, leave us a rating and a review. It really helps. 

CF My name is Ceora Ford. I'm a Developer Advocate at Auth0. You can find me on Twitter, my username there is @Ceeoreo_. 

CW I'm Cassidy Williams. You can find me @Cassidoo on most things. I do developer experience at Remote and at OSS Capital. 

MK And I'm Matt Kiernander. I am a Technical Advocate here at Stack Overflow. You can find me online @MattKander on YouTube, Twitter, all the spaces. 

BP We will talk to you soon.

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