A scrum master manages teams as per the rules of the scrum framework and enables agile development. Given that scrum is among the most popular agile methodologies in use, scrum masters are in high demand. This article discusses the top 15 questions you are likely to be asked during an interview for this role and their ideal answers.
Scrum Master Interview Questions
Agile approaches are proving to be beneficial to businesses. According to the 15th Annual State Of Agile Report published by Digital.ai in 2021, 66% of agile organizations use the scrum methodology. Among the numerous agile models in use today, scrum is one of the most popular. It implements agile concepts via scrum practices, deliverables, events, and roles.
Scrum typically consists of three roles:
- Product owner
- Scrum master
- Development team
All of these adhere to a set of scrum rules, such as frequency requirements, sprint objective prioritization, collaboration, and cultural values. A scrum master takes on a leadership role and looks after the agile team’s management, advocacy, orchestration, and support as per these rules.
Considering the scrum framework’s rapid development and acceptance, it’s no surprise that the demand for scrum masters is skyrocketing. As per March 2022 data from Talent.com, which was sourced from 8,000 scrum master salaries, individuals can expect a starting pay of $95,349, while experienced professionals earn up to $139,997. Importantly, scrum masters who have received formal scrum courses and agile certifications earn more than those who are not certified.
In this article, we have put together a list of interview questions for scrum masters and their best-fit responses to take some of the pressure off when preparing for your upcoming interviews. Understanding how to respond to these frequently-asked scrum master interview questions is the first step toward a rewarding career as a scrum master.
See More: Application Security Engineer: Job Role and Key Skills for 2021
The following scrum master interview questions and answers will help you advance your career quickly if you are committed and well prepared. The first five questions are most commonly asked during entry-level interviews. The next five deal with topics relevant for mid-level scrum master roles, and the last five are strategic, likely to be asked during interviews for senior scrum master roles.
|Entry-level questions||Mid-career questions||Senior-level questions|
|How do you assist team members in identifying compelling user stories?||User stories are assigned to members of a team by a product owner. What are your views on this?||Over 200 tickets are in the product backlog. Is this something you can accept?|
|A scrum team member refuses to attend sprint planning meetings, believing that they waste time. What are your options for dealing with such a mindset?||What are some of the tools you intend to use as a scrum master?||How can a scrum master prevent retrospective fatigue?|
|Can you give us some examples of the kind of information you’d need from the product owner to keep the team updated on the product’s progress in the context of the market?||How will the scrum master ensure that the team meets its deadline for the completion of action items?||How do you overcome stakeholder resistance?|
|What are the scrum master’s responsibilities to the daily scrum?||What does “scrum of scrums” mean?||What does “confidence vote” signify in scrum? What is the significance of this?|
|When should a scrum master not act as a facilitator?||What can we do to help the product owner get the most value from their product?||How do you determine a scrum team’s capacity and velocity?|
Frequently Asked Questions During a Scrum Master Interview
1. How do you assist team members in identifying compelling user stories?
As a scrum master, one of your most important responsibilities is to help your team raise the backlog for a sprint that has already been allocated and select things that have been prioritized first (sorted as per the priority). Once the team has picked issues from the slew of variables that might provide value, the scrum master can aid them (i.e., the development team plus the product owner or PO) in translating them into compelling user narratives that will be shared with the rest of the team.
A compelling user story includes a description and acceptance criteria that have been established. This should be a component that can be finished in a sprint and has the fewest number of dependencies as is reasonably practical. The team should be able to develop and test within the limits of the sprint while still producing estimates within the time constraints.
To be truly compelling, scrum masters must ensure that user stories are:
- Independent: Relies as little on other stories as possible
- Negotiable: Can be discussed and is subject to agreement between the team and the PO
- Valuable: Adds genuine value to the end-user
- Estimable: Is not so significant or imprecise that it becomes difficult to estimate
- Small: Can be completed by the team in a sprint
- Testable: Hinges on a good inclusion criterion that can be proven or disproven
As part of the backlog review or sprint preparation process, the scrum master may help the team in developing high-quality user stories that will be selected for inclusion in the sprint commitment.
2. A scrum team member refuses to attend sprint planning meetings, believing they waste time. What are your options for dealing with such a mindset?
This question aims to learn how the candidate deals with coworkers who think attending a sprint planning meeting is a waste of time. If this question is posed to you, you may respond as follows:
Understanding the team’s pulse is critical for a scrum master. If one of your team members considers meetings pointless, it’s time to figure out why. The scrum master should strive to speak with each team member personally and ask open-ended questions to discover why they cannot attend the meeting. It is necessary to figure out what is causing this behavior and explain why the planning meeting is essential.
3. Can you give us some examples of the kind of information you’d need from the product owner to keep the team updated on the product’s progress in the context of the market?
Product development teams must be aware of the project’s and consumer’s integrity. “Why are we constructing it?” and “What purpose will it serve?” are questions that the product owner must help the team answer.
Such inquiries aid the team’s comprehension of their target client and user. Assuming that the software product is launched on time, the product owner must communicate the value it will add given the industry’s current state. Understanding how product operations are managed and the importance of time to market can be improved by discussing the market scenario. It also aids in steering the team in a new way at the end of each sprint, as the product owner may assist the team in determining how the customer consumes the product.
4. What are the scrum master’s responsibilities to the daily scrum?
Companies want to hire someone who clearly understands their role for the position they are applying for. If you are asked this question, you may respond: The facilitation of daily scrums or standups is a big part of the scrum master’s job. They lead the daily scrum for the project team, which allows them to address daily tasks and improve team communication. The scrum master also ensures that the team follows the daily scrum meeting requirement of keeping the meeting to a maximum of 15 minutes.
5. When should a scrum master not act as a facilitator?
The scrum master’s job, according to the accepted methodology, is to assist the team in achieving the best results possible. It can be challenging to facilitate the learning process for internal and external workshops.
When discussing subjects, a workshop facilitator must remain objective and refrain from introducing facts or opinions to the debate. You already have all you need to facilitate the essential product development seminars if you have the requisite experience.
Nevertheless, you should not lead the workshop if it is about modifying your firm’s scrum process.
See More: Cloud Computing Careers: Job Roles and Key Skills Needed for 2021
The following five questions are most likely to be asked during interviews for mid-level roles with three years of experience.
6. User stories are assigned to team members by a product owner. What are your views on this?
Product owners and scrum masters must work together to balance the requirements to provide product changes as rapidly as possible and maintain a highly productive workforce. The scrum master’s job is to demonstrate to the product owner why such activities are so disruptive to the balance.
The product owner indirectly argues that they know better than the team who is the perfect candidate for the task when allocating user stories to specific team members. This is rarely the case because the product owner doesn’t work directly with the team every day and does not have an intimate understanding of the team’s inner workings. Furthermore, because scrum teams are supposed to self-organize, such activities may undermine the team’s drive.
7. What are some of the tools you intend to use as a scrum master?
Several tools can make a scrum master’s job easier by simplifying planning, estimation, and progress tracking processes. A Kanban board is one of the most common tools that every scrum master should be familiar with. Each board depicts an ongoing sprint with different swimlanes dedicated to tasks in progress, completed, yet to be picked up, or stuck. The scrum master can move tasks across swimlanes as the team makes new efforts. It enables visual collaboration and keeps everyone on the same page.
Another popular tool to use is the burnup chart. This graph depicts progress over time, using two lines, one referring to planned deliverables and another showing the actuals. It helps scrum masters plot a team’s progress against the original sprint plan. One can also use a burndown chart, which uses a similar approach – but maps the number of tasks left instead of progress achieved. Therefore, burndown charts move downward.
8. How will the scrum master ensure that the team meets its deadline for the completion of action items?
To have a successful sprint, the team must first identify action items. This gives the group a place to start talking, but merely listing things isn’t enough. The scrum master must take steps to deliver and end the action items as quickly as possible.
Each action item should be assigned to an owner, and team members should prevent assigning multiple owners to a particular element because ownership is diluted. The scrum master should record action items in a software or spreadsheet everybody on the team may access. It is also helpful to have a backlog of action plans since it enables the firm to prioritize.
9. What does “scrum of scrums” mean?
Scrum of scrums is a scaled agile technique that provides a way to interact with several teams who must collaborate to achieve complicated solutions. It will aid teams in developing and delivering complex goods by allowing for inspection, transparency, and scalable adaptation.
In a scrum of scrums model, the primary agile team is broken down into multiple component teams, each working on a different task, release, bug fix, or feature. All the teams work concurrently instead of working in consecutive sprints. A representative from each team is chosen as the delegate, and all the delegates collaborate to ensure that the multiple concurrent teams work smoothly. A scrum master oversees this entire arrangement.
10. What can we do to help the product owner get the most value from their product?
The scrum team must participate in the product discovery phase to assist the product owner in maximizing its value. The product owner may also benefit from the assistance of scrum masters, who can ensure that the product backlog refinement process is continuous but genuinely impactful.
See More: Cybersecurity Specialist: Key Skill Requirements and Salary Expectations
The following five questions are generally asked to professionals applying for senior-level roles.
11. Over 200 tickets are in the product backlog. Is this something you can accept?
The product backlog is a specific set of all the features that a product requires. Product owners frequently keep a separate list of product concepts, which should be prioritized against other products in the product backlog when they are added to it. However, having everything in one location and prioritizing only the top half could be a good compromise. Although a product backlog may have a long list of activities to be done, the team will only concentrate on necessary things to provide value to the customer.
Scrum masters must always remember that an overlong backlog can demotivate team members and make their achievements feel like small wins. Therefore, the backlog should always be trimmed to eliminate items that are no longer relevant, those that are stuck, etc., to keep sprints manageable and morale high.
12. How can a scrum master prevent retrospective fatigue?
Scrum teams grow tired of repeating the same retrospective-based sprint routine. The scrum master should be willing to try out new patterns and, on occasion, relocate the team. Anything that frequently repeats itself tends to create a monotonous meeting environment. Some teams may decide to go out to lunch and talk. This encourages teamwork and provides a safe environment in which to speak.
The scrum master’s responsibility is to ensure that the retrospective’s substance is not lost while also creating a nice environment to prevent boredom. Even if you use a variety of patterns, the goal should always be the same.
13. How do you overcome stakeholder resistance?
We may overcome stakeholder opposition by listening to them profoundly rather than just on the surface. You must postpone your resistance to the stakeholders’ verdict. You must first recognize and appreciate the other points of view before comprehending why they differ from you.
All of these techniques rely on one key principle – two-way dialogue. The job of a scrum master is not only to get buy-in from stakeholders but also to convey the business benefits of the scrum. Listening to stakeholder issues, reassuring them, and closing the feedback loop are essential to effectively overcoming stakeholder resistance.
14. What does “confidence vote” signify in scrum? What is the significance of this?
After the risk assessment at the program increment (PI) planning session, the confidence vote is held. It is when the entire team gets together and raises their hands and votes with their thumbs on their confidence level in completing the PI targets.
The confidence vote may only be utilized once all features and user stories have been adequately estimated and prioritized. Every step of the process must be clear to all relevant parties, with all connections and risks clearly outlined. You may create a positive work environment and gather team members’ honest feedback by conducting a vote of confidence session. It improves team spirit since team members feel valued.
15. How do you determine a scrum team’s capacity and velocity?
The number of complete story points in prior sprints is averaged to determine velocity. The capacity – how many product backlog items the group should take for the upcoming sprint – is determined by velocity.
Capacity indicates how much time the team has available for the upcoming sprint. If all other factors remain constant, the capacity must match the velocity. However, a few reasons can reduce capacities, such as vacations, sick days, new team onboarding, and other ad hoc workplace activities or meetings. One should consider all of these factors when estimating the team’s potential for progress.
See More: DevOps Engineer: Job Description, Key Skills, and Salary in 2022
A scrum master’s role is both technical and strategic. They must know the basics of software development to anticipate blockers and eliminate them to drive team progress. At the same time, they must possess exceptional soft skills and have a clear understanding of scrum rules and agile frameworks. These questions will help candidates ace their scrum master interviews in 2022 and set up a lucrative career in the field as demand continues to grow in an increasingly digital world.
MORE ON IT SKILLS AND CAREERS
- Top 15 DevOps Interview Questions to Prepare for in 2022 (And How to Answer Them)
- Top 15 Cybersecurity Interview Questions to Prepare for in 2022 (And How to Answer Them)
- Top 11 In-Demand IT Skills In 2022: The Experts’ Edit
- Cloud Computing Careers: Job Roles and Key Skills Needed for 2021