Scrum Master Interview: 7 Scenario-Based Questions You’ll Want to Steal
There is nothing to hide, – hiring a scrum master is a pretty tough job. It can be compared to a needle in a haystack – there are many people titled “scrum masters” but only a few can achieve the required results.
The variety of experiences, skills, and insights of people who carry the title of scrum masters is extremely rich. Making it impossible to turn a checklist of technical skills into practical use for your project. Though, there should be a vivid understanding of the features your candidate should have.
Beyond looking for the definite personal criteria, you have to evaluate how the potential Scrum Master can perform in different situations. And a couple of situational questions during the interview is what can really help.
In this article, we’ll look at the Scrum Master’s main duties, the list of questions to experts and newbies, and the scenario-based questions to ask during the interview.
What Does a Scrum Master Do All Day?
Evidently, the agile master is a crucial player of the team. To hire a high-qualified person you should be aware of scrum master responsibilities. We’ll brief out them here for you.
Duties of a dedicated Scrum Master commonly include:
- Observing the process
- Discussing how the team performs
- Improving communications
- Encouraging others to bring about change
- Fixing emerging issues or finding solutions to improve them
- Unblocking the team members from distractions to let them smoothly complete their work
The key to success lies in asking the correct questions and finding the right personality fit. The questions you will find below will give you a good insight into a professional’s specific background.
Questions to newbies and experts
When interviewing a Scrum Master without experience, ask how does he or she imagine Scrum Master job in your company.
- How would you help the team create transparency around continuous system integration?
- How would you handle team members that believe standups are a waste of time and therefore are either late or not collaborative?
- How would you, as a Scrum Master, donate to the sprint planning in a way that the team is really working on the most valuable user stories?
- What kind of information would you require from the Product Owner to give your team with?
- How would you prevent boredom at retrospectives?
- How would you help stimulate the team to support each other in refactoring and simple design?
- On what metrics would you base the assessment of the value of a user story?
- What metrics would be not acceptable for you?
You can ask experienced agile scrum masters about their prior knowledge.
- What retrospective formats have you been using in the past?
- How did you help your team members find their role?
- Can you give some examples of letting the team members finding their own answers instead of you giving them ready solutions?
- How did you help your team to be more collaborative?
- Helping the team to spread the knowledge gained during development, how did you implement it later in the working process?
- How did you help and encourage healthy conflict during team meetings?
Though these answers will give you a good overview of the candidates’ background, we would recommend combining the open-ended questions with the situational-based.
Those Tricky Scenario-Based Questions
A series of scenario-based questions is the most effective way to evaluate if the potential candidate is good for the Scrum Master role. Quizzing on how they would handle a situation reveals much more about competency than a scrum master certificate.
Down below you will find 7 real-world situations that will help you check how ready the candidates are for this job.
- Imagine, all of the difficulties you and your team had been meeting for three months occurred simply because of the unready stories for development. Instead of coding and implementing the features required by the Product Owner, the team had to spend a week analyzing mismatching and figuring out the problem. Nothing seemed to be helping.
What would you do as a Scrum Master if you find yourself in a common situation?
- Your team says the retrospective is too boring and no one is willing to speak up about the real problems. You knew there were some natural tensions but hadn’t realized they were so deep and tough.
What solution, as a Scrum Master, do you see for this situation?
- One of your best developers is sure that the team won’t be able to complete the first iteration in two weeks. Moreover, he ensures your boss that there is nothing incremental about this process and it can’t be divided into two-weeks-sized pieces; four months is minimum what’s needed for the architecture only. He is sure that the Scrum meetings are too general and there is no use to hold them daily.
What are your actions as a Scrum Master in this situation?
- Two teams are working together on the product. The Scrum Master of the other team asks you for professional advice. The situation is the following: the development team says “the problem is that fixes aren’t prioritized, and we won’t fix it until you get the product owner to prioritize it.” Nevertheless, those features were supposed to work, meanwhile, developers were working in the trouble areas on the last sprint.
What would you recommend to your colleague as a Scrum Master?
- It turns out that a Scrum Master that works with a different team manages all task assignments. He says there is not enough time to wait until team members choose tasks on their own. They’ve tried to let members select tasks, but nobody wanted to choose. This made a Scrum Master assign tasks and define the most appropriate for the team members by himself.
As a Scrum Master of another team, how would you react?
- At the meantime, you have almost the same problem, as you work on the same project. Nearly every time it comes to prioritizing, the product owner chooses new functionality and never prefers bug fixing. However, the critical point came, and it started to slow down testing and influence on overall product performance. Those fixes should have had been finally done.
How would you act as a Scrum Master?
- The product owner wants you to implement all the features at once, claiming that there is no point in small iterations. Trying to convince you that all of the features are useless until they are all completely ready, he concludes that there is no priority exists – all the features are equally important.
What’s your solution to this situation?
By asking questions alike, you put the candidates in real-life situations. This will give you a powerful tool in assessing which candidate fits best for your vacancy.
The role of a Scrum Master comprises a multitude of talents and aptitudes, which makes talent acquisition a challenge. Because responsibilities are both technical and organizational, you should make sure a Scrum Master pays attention to finding the balance between leading and participating in the project.
Looking for a great Scrum Master? We know how to help!