How to Prepare for a Scrum Master Interview & Nail It

What is the Scrum Master responsible for?

Before we start with preparations for the interview, let’s figure out who the Scrum Master is and what responsibilities they have.

1. Scrum Master Role

The Scrum Master is a true leader for the team, and the leadership style here is entirely different from classic project management. The main goal of the Scrum Master is to teach the team and nurture them to become self-managed. The Scrum Master doesn’t solve all issues, but instead shows the Team how to do that. Understanding these basics will help you think in the right mindset and answer tricky questions during an interview.

  • What is a self-managed team?
  • How can a Scrum Master build a self-managed team?
  • What leadership style makes sense for a Scrum Master?

2. Agile and Scrum Theory

A must-have for a candidate is a deep understanding of agile and scrum theory.

  • What is Scrum?
  • What benefits does Scrum give us?
  • How is Scrum organized?
  • What is the purpose of each event in Scrum?
  • What events are mandatory for the Scrum Master to attend?
  • What is a Daily Meeting and how should it be managed?
  • What would be your agenda for Sprint planning?

3. Coaching and Facilitation

The Scrum Master must be a good facilitator, so you should be ready to answer questions about the facilitation of meetings. It’s good to know at least a few facilitation techniques. To pass Scrum Master practical interview questions, be ready to answer both theoretical questions and the inevitable follow-up: “How, exactly?” So, for example, as a situational interview question for Scrum Master, you may be asked to conduct a Retrospective — how would you do it?

  • What facilitation techniques do you know?
  • Could you please conduct a Retrospective right now? Here’s a hint!

4. Backlog management questions for a Scrum Master interview

Product Owners are people who come from business; quite often they don’t know how Scrum is organized and how to manage the Backlog appropriately. So knowing different prioritization techniques also will be a plus.

  • What are the Product goal and Sprint goal?
  • Give an example of a well-formed user story.
  • What is the difference between the Definition of Done and Acceptance Criteria?
  • What is a Definition of Ready?
  • What is a Product backlog refinement?
  • What are SMART and INVEST?

5. Team Management

Not only the Product owner but Developers also might need help in becoming Agile-thinking team members. Not all team members will have experience working with Scrum, or you might even face a situation where the team sabotages some of the Scrum events. What would you do in such cases?

  • What are Scrum values?
  • What team-forming stages do you know?
  • What conflict resolution techniques do you do?
  • What are the benefits of using Scrum?

6. Estimation in Scrum

Estimation techniques are among the most popular questions to ask a Scrum Master candidate during an interview. To be well-prepared for these questions, you should not only be able to describe planning poker and story points (those two are must-haves) but also at least a few more techniques: the bucket system, dot voting, and T-shirt sizing.

  • How would you facilitate a new team’s very first Refinement session?
  • What are the advantages of relative estimation?
  • What are capacity and velocity?
  • How is velocity measured?

7. Project Metrics

A candidate should know the definition of the metric itself, the metric’s purpose, and at least a few metrics that could be used for Scrum teams. Please don’t limit your knowledge and experience to velocity with its different variations. A lot of good metrics are proposed by Scrum.org in the Evidence-Based Management Guide. It is also useful to know the definition and use of Kanban metrics, such as work item age, throughput, the difference between Cycle time and Lead time, and how to read cumulative flow diagrams.
Project metrics questions to ask a Scrum Master in an interview:

  • What project metrics do you know?
  • What is a Burndown chart?
  • How is cycle time measured?
  • What metrics does it make sense to collect to measure the project’s progress?

Conclusion

In this article, we’ve tried to cover the most common questions required for a Scrum Master interview — check out Exadel’s list of open positions and try your hand! If you still have questions, contact us.

  1. Evidence-based Management
  2. Scrum Guide 2020
  3. Facilitation in Agile: What It Is, How It Works, and Why You Need It
  4. Agile estimation techniques

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Exadel is a product engineering company supporting organizations at any stage of their digital transformation journey

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