Scrum Master Interview Questions
Scrum Masters are senior software engineers who help organize a development team and streamline production. The scrum framework incorporates the agile project management philosophy into a business, unifying members under a common goal while distinguishing individual roles. A Scrum Master will increase your team’s responsiveness, maximize productivity and improve performance through a systematic and interactive approach to project management.
Interview questions for Scrum Masters assess not only their understanding of scrum methodology but also their development abilities and leadership skills.
The ideal candidate is an engineer with a background in computer science, software development and project management. Their communicative style is unique and efficient, enabling them to be both a strong leader and an active listener. Asking a combination of situational and technical interview questions will give you the ability to gauge a potential scrum manager’s professional knowledge and personality.
General interview questions (such as “Can you tell me about yourself?” and “Why are you looking for another job?”) are a great way to get to know your candidate’s personal history, interests, and goals. However, be sure to add inquiries specific to the role they’re interviewing for, so you can gain valuable insights into their likelihood of success in that position.
Below are Scrum Master interview questions to help you get started:
1. How do you define “agile” in software development?
What you want to hear: The agile philosophy spans beyond procedures and encompasses the core of software development – creating products that provide long-standing value and meaning to consumers. Agile is reflexive, responsible and ongoing. Look for candidates whose definitions are infused with energy and personal insight.
Red flag: Understanding how scrum and agile influence the software development process is imperative to effective leadership. Scrum Masters are passionate about the philosophy behind their methodology and are eager to share it. There is no room for vagueness or limited detail when it comes to the detail-oriented nature of agile development.
2. What are the most important elements in every scrum report?
What you want to hear: Agile project reports are the heart of communication in scrum management. Scrum Masters rely on frameworks like SMART and OKR to produce reports that define measurable objectives and results on each iteration of a project.
Red flag: Scrum Masters do not leave anything to question. They are as curious as they are knowledgeable. A response about report development should come naturally as the qualified candidates have written and read enough to know what aspects are essential.
3. How do you ensure your user stories build a cohesive product backlog?
What you want to hear: User stories are the vital spark behind scrum. They create a collective conversation that embodies the personas your team has developed to represent your audience and ensure their needs are met. Effective user stories are simple and can adopt a uniform format that states, “I am (name), I want (what?) so that I (what?)”.
Red flag: Candidates who are unfamiliar with user stories will not be able to create the backlogs integral to scum. Without user stories, the entire heart of agile development is gone. Avoid any applicants who do not understand the definition of product backlogs or cannot articulate the value of user stories.
4. What is the most exciting aspect of software development for you?
What you want to hear: It’s important to ask personal questions during job interviews that give you a glimpse into each candidate’s reason for working in their field. Software developers may love being able to translate needs into products, or they could find the life cycle of development fascinating. Enjoy this opportunity to hear what makes each candidate’s job worthwhile to them.
Red flag: The favorite elements of jobs help off-set the less desirable. Candidates who lack connection to their work will likely have a hard time identifying any qualities they find exciting. A lack of enthusiasm toward a field naturally seeps into someone’s work performance.
5. Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied with the final product of your work. What did you take away from the experience?
What you want to hear: Any software engineer is familiar with failure, and there are times when a finished product may never meet their own expectations despite encompassing all of their deliverables. Listen closely for responses that adopt a positive mindset and ability to adapt.
Red flag: Candidates who downplay their own shortcomings could be overly critical when others don’t live up to their expectations. A Scrum Master should accept dissatisfaction as a natural part of the process and something improvements evolve from.
6. What is your approach to holding daily scrum meetings?
What you want to hear: Daily meets keep the team on the same page, reduces misunderstanding and sets an agenda for the workday ahead. The meetings are short and goal-oriented. Scrum Masters should stay on topic, be sensitive to everyone’s time and ensure that the meeting is focused on the upcoming sprint.
Red flag: If a candidate does not understand the purpose or importance of daily meetings, they are likely not as well-versed in scrum as they claimed to be. Your next hire has to be a leader who understands the value of their work’s philosophy and all of its elements.
7. Do you let people change requirements during development?
What you want to hear: The answer is yes. Because scrum is a form of agile development, it is receptive to feedback and open to making changes that improve the final product.
8. What are the best non-technical skills you’ve learned working in software development?
What you want to hear: Whether it’s time management, the importance of stress relief or communication, there are plenty of soft skills to take away from working in software development. Candidates who are truly immersed in their field will be able to identify ways their job has shaped them beyond technical abilities.
Red flag: Software engineers need to understand all of the non-technical skills that go into their work. Anyone who does not know these will likely have a linear way of thinking that isn’t conducive to team growth.
9. Do you have any communication strategies to manage disagreements with your team?
What you want to hear: Many people are talented at conversation, but the true test of good communication skills arises during disagreements. How does a candidate avoid conflict? They should mention the importance of asking questions, fostering a sense of understanding and making sure everyone’s opinion is respected.
Red flag: Anyone who says they have never experienced disagreement on a team either withholds their own thoughts or rarely listens to others. A Scrum Master who has never experienced disagreement on their team could possess an authoritative style that discourages people from voicing their true thoughts.
10. How would you introduce scrum or agile to a new team who is totally unfamiliar with the process?
What you want to hear: Like any new organizational change, it’s best to start small. Scrum Masters should provide their new team with an overview of agile development, introduction to scum and kick things off with a small sprint. These steps will give the team members time to adjust while the master assesses the current situation and gets to know everyone’s unique role and strengths.
Red flag: Scrum Masters should be able to easily walk through the process of agile integration. It may be unfamiliar territory for many, which is why a professional who understands the most common problems and challenges is vital to a successful adaptation.
Every interview question can help get you closer to the right fit for your Scrum Master position.
Be sure to keep an eye out for candidates who:
- Naturally incorporate scrum philosophy into their responses.
- Are well-versed in the agile software development pipeline.
- Combine technical know-how with strong communication and natural leadership qualities.
- Are comfortable adopting a mentor role and enjoy helping others improve at their jobs.