The scrum master is a key member of the scrum team, but also a somewhat misunderstood one, which can make it difficult to ask scrum master interview questions. The scrum master is the one who helps everyone else understand scrum boards, practices, rules and values. Think of the scrum master as a servant leader for the scrum team, but also as a person who helps those outside of the team understand how to best interact with the scrum team.
The scrum master role is a difficult position to fill, as the scrum master needs to help the team reach consensus on tasks and timelines, facilitate the daily scrum meetings, keep the team focused on what has been agreed on in those daily scrums, remove obstacles in their way and protect them from distractions.
22 Scrum Master Interview Questions
Here’s a list of some of the most commonly asked scrum master interview questions to ask you as you prepare a scrum interview.
1. How Do You Define Agile?
This is a tricky one. It’s a controversial question in that the definition of agile isn’t commonly agreed upon. Is it a methodology? Some might say no. They believe it’s a framework of approaches and behaviors that encourage iterative development and collaboration between self-organizing teams. Is there a right answer? Yes, the one that conforms to your approach and culture.
2. What Is Scrum?
This is one of the most common scrum interview questions. Scrum has a defined set of guidelines, ceremonies and artifacts, but it’s also a flexible methodology that allows scrum masters to apply their unique touch while guiding teams through the process of implementing scrum. This open-ended question allows employers to get a quick overview of how the scrum master being interviewed sees scrum and how he interacts with the scrum team and project stakeholders.
3. What Differences Do You See Between Agile and Traditional PM?
Since scrum is part of the larger agile idea, it’s always good to see how the person distinguishes between the waterfall model that moves one phase at a time and the short, frequent feedback loops of agile. If the person is unable to make these distinctions clear to you, they will not serve as an influential scrum master.
4. What Does a Scrum Master Do?
As we noted above, the scrum master is a unique position. Scrum has three main roles, which are the product owner, scrum master and delivery team. They’re cross-functional but not shared among other projects. But not all projects follow these rules precisely. How you run the organization and how well the candidate can be flexible or has experience in your way of doing the work will determine how good a fit they’ll be.
5. What Is the Key to Managing a Scrum Self-Organizing Team?
Scrum teams are self-organizing and cross-functional, which means individuals within the team have the autonomy to decide how they’d like to execute the work and collaborate. So while scrum masters don’t tell scrum team members what to do, they can still support their efforts and help organizations track their progress through daily scrum meetings, sprint planning sessions and sprint retrospectives. These agile meetings let scrum masters understand what each team member is working on, how they’re doing, and how to be more efficient in the next sprint.
6. How Do You Use Scrum Artifacts?
While each member of a scrum team has a unique set of skills that allow them to excel at certain areas of work, the scrum master uses the scrum artifacts to see the big picture of an agile project. They can be seen as the scrum master’s toolbox which allows him or her to have a clear understanding of what a project is about. They can assist the scrum teams and help them to find the best way to prioritize and coordinate their efforts. The seven scrum artifacts are the product vision, product backlog, sprint vision, sprint backlog, the definition of done, product increments and burndown chart.
7. What Is Your Biggest Strength as a Scrum Master?
With this question, employers can understand more about the personality and leadership traits of a candidate. The best way to answer this question is to use examples from past experiences. For example, if someone says their biggest strength as a scrum master is helping the team prioritize their work, they should quickly refer to a specific example where they effectively did so, highlighting the outcome.
8. What Is Your Biggest Weakness as a Scrum Master?
Besides looking for an honest response, employers want to understand how scrum masters react to an adverse situation and try to overcome it. We all have weaknesses, but what’s most important is how we try to fix them and improve as professionals. In the same way, scrum teams will have some weaknesses and will face roadblocks, and scrum masters need to be there to help them do better in the next sprint.
9. What Tools Do You Use as a Scrum Master?
Project management software greatly increases the productivity of scrum teams. Therefore, any scrum master should be familiar with agile project management software tools like kanban boards, Gantt charts, project dashboards and any other features to help them plan and track agile sprints.
10. Is There a Time When Waterfall Is Preferable Over Scrum?
There shouldn’t be an all-in-or-all-out approach to any project. Sometimes a hybrid methodology works best. Other times a strictly traditional course best serves the project. For example, if the work is simple, predictable and fully defined, it would probably be right to use waterfall. This scrum master interview question will determine if the candidate is thinking of their focus or the overall good of the project.
11. How Does Agile and Scrum Differ If They Do?
If the person is unaware that scrum falls under the larger umbrella of agile that’s a problem. There are four main values and 12 principles of agile, while scrum has its own set of values and principles. Scrum is a framework to help teams become agile. This question will reveal whether the candidate is in fact a scrum master.
12. Do You Know Other Agile Frameworks?
Scrum isn’t the only framework for teams to become agile. There is also kanban (which uses kanban boards), test-driven development and feature-driven development, to name a few. See what frameworks outside of scrum the person has worked with and how that played out in the project. You want to know how expansive their knowledge is.
13. Are You Certified?
There are certifications for scrum masters, and that might be a prerequisite for your hiring decision. But it might not be, either. Some believe in certification, others less so, but either way, it’s helpful to know a candidate’s background. This is a way to open that door.
Now that we’ve reviewed some of the most common scrum master interview questions, let’s review some behavioral questions for scrum masters, which are meant to show how someone has responded to a situation in the past.
14. How Do You Run a Daily Scrum Meeting?
The daily scrum meeting, or standup meeting, is foundational to scrum. They’re held each day and run by the scrum master, who will ask these three questions: “What did you do yesterday? What are we planning to do today? What’s blocking us from doing that?” This isn’t a status update for stakeholders but a way to focus the team. If the person up for the job doesn’t understand this, they’re not qualified.
15. Do You Encourage Automated Testing for the Project?
Scrum often uses automated performance or regression testing to deliver software as fast as possible. What are the tools the candidate prefers? How well have teams worked with these tools?
16. How Long Are Your Sprints?
Sprints are usually one month or less, in which a usable and potentially releasable product increment is created. But a sprint can be as short as a week. Two weeks, however, is the average. Where does your candidate fall on this spectrum? This can tell you a lot about how they’ll work on your project.
17. Do You Allow Someone to Change a Requirement?
The correct answer to this is yes. Agile requires a lot of feedback from both customers and stakeholders. The goal is to improve the product. Change is the constant in agile, so much as it’s embraced as a means of getting the project done better and faster.
18. What Kind of Metrics Do You Use When Measuring a Project’s Progress?
There are many ways to answer this, from burndown charts to burn-up charts, which are the standard metric for determining how much you’ve done within the time you’ve allotted for the work. But it’s always good to know how the person measures the project, as it’s the only way to determine how well things are progressing.
19. Have You Managed More Than One Scrum Team at a Time?
Of course, scrum guidelines say that only one scrum master per team. The key to the question is the use of the word “managed” rather than “led,” as scrum masters don’t manage, they lead. So, ask this scrum master interview question as stated above, and see if the candidate is really listening.
20. What Requirements Do You Use for Teams?
The scrum requirements are written as user stories and the scrum master isn’t usually the one who writes them. But they might help the product owner do so. That way, the stories can be prioritized and ready for the sprint.
21. How Do You Deal With Discord on Your Team?
Here’s another practical interview question. There’s always going to be some conflict when a group of people is working together for a common goal, and sometimes that conflict is a positive thing. However, too much will derail the project. Have the person explain when there was team conflict and what they did to resolve that conflict in such a fashion that egos weren’t bruised, and the team remained bonded afterward.
22. How Do You Motivate a Team New to Scrum?
Maybe you’ve assembled a new team that isn’t practiced in scrum or is even skeptical of agile. They’re more interested in working and find meetings only interrupt their progress. Has the candidate ever been in such a situation and, if so, how did they handle it? This question relates to the one above, only in a more specific scenario that might speak to your concerns.
We hope these scrum master interview questions are helpful as you find the right candidate for your job. Now let’s quickly review how project management software can help your scrum master lead teams effectively.
ProjectManager Is Ideal for Scrum Masters
The first thing you must do once the scrum master interview is completed is give that scrum master the tools to better execute sprints and projects. ProjectManager is award-winning software that allows teams to plan and execute together. Kanban boards can help you plan sprints, hold your product backlog and prioritize those user stories, so your scrum team knows just what to work on. Besides kanban boards, you can also use other project planning tools like Gantt charts, task lists, project dashboards, timesheets and more. Get started with ProjectManager for free.
Everyone on the team can benefit from our feature set, not just scrum masters. The scrum team can collaborate together in real time and can review their previous sprint thanks to in-depth project reporting. Product owners can track progress with ProjectManager’s real-time dashboard to get the transparency they need.
ProjectManager even has a project view for the IT people involved in the project. Online Gantt charts show the user stories on a project timeline, with milestones and dependencies. ProjectManager is the answer for your scrum team.
ProjectManager is online project management software with kanban boards, a real-time dashboard, reporting tools and many other features—all designed to actualize a successful project. Try it today with this free 30-day trial.