Scrum Master Interview Questions (2)

TL; DR: Demand Creates Supply and the Job Market for Scrum Masters Is no Exception

Scrum Master Interview Questions: How We Organized Questions and Answers

  • The answers reflect the personal experience of the authors and may not be valid for every organization: what works for organization A, is likely failing in organization B
  • There are not suitable multiple choice questions to identify a candidate’s agile mindset given the complexity of applying “agile” to any organization
  • The authors share a holistic view of agile methodologies: agile equals product discovery (what to build) plus product delivery (how to build it).
Download the 47 Scrum Master Interview Questions to Identify Suitable Candidates

II. Product Backlog Refinement And Estimation

Question 11: External Requirement Documents

Question 12: PO Anti-Pattern

Question 13: Writing User Stories

Question 14: A Good User Story

  • Includes a description,
  • Has acceptance criteria defined,
  • Can be delivered within a single Sprint,
  • Has all UI deliverables available,
  • Has all (probable) dependencies identified,
  • Has performance criteria defined,
  • Has tracking criteria defined, and
  • Is estimated by the Scrum Team.

Question 15: INVEST

  • Independent. The user story should be self-contained, in a way that there is no inherent dependency on another user story.
  • Negotiable. Until becoming part of an iteration, user stories can always be changed and rewritten.
  • Valuable. A user story must deliver value to the end-user.
  • Estimable. You must always be able to estimate the size of a user story.
  • Small. User stories should not be so big as to become impossible to plan, task, and prioritize with some certainty.
  • Testable. The user story (or its related description) must provide the necessary information to make test development possible.

Question 16: Person-hour Estimations

  • Legacy software is involved,
  • A team is facing significant technical debt, or
  • A team is composed of mostly junior members.

Question 17: Cluttering the Product Backlog

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III. Sprint Planning

Question 18: A Scrum Master’s Contribution to the Sprint Planning

  1. To ensure that the Scrum Team is involved in the product discovery process at an early stage;
  2. To ensure that the Product Backlog refinement process is well practiced by both the Development Team members and the Product Owner; and
  3. To ensure that all user stories are created in a collaborative effort between the Product Owner and the Development Team members (the goal being a shared understanding of the user stories and thus joint ownership).

Question 19: Assessing the Value of a User Story

  • Revenue increases,
  • Cost cutting benefits achieved by internal process improvements,
  • Increases in customer satisfaction rates (NPS),
  • Increases in signups for new products, or
  • Positive customer feedback received by the customer care team.

Question 20: Selecting the Most Valuable User Stories

Question 21: Time Allocation During a Sprint

  • 15% of a team’s capacity to technical debt and refactoring,
  • 10% of a team’s capacity to bugs, and
  • 5% of a team’s capacity to explorative spikes (when potentially helpful).

Question 22: Assigning User Stories

Question 23: Cherry-Picking Items

Question 24: The Almost Ready User Story

Question 25: Sprint Planning Is a Waste of My Time

  1. The Scrum Master may start by addressing the team member privately to discuss their reservations and, perhaps, more coaching needs or a longer training period.
  2. Following private discussion, the entire Scrum Team can be involved by making the team member’s reservations a topic of discussion during one or more Sprint Retrospectives. This enables the Scrum Team to offer their support to their teammate.
  3. If there is still no change in the team member’s attitude, a meeting with the team member and their line-manager is advisable.
  4. If no change can be achieved, it might be possible to reassign the team member to another (probably non-agile) team, or to a Kanban team unlikely to force the team member out of their comfort zone.
Download the 47 Scrum Master Interview Questions to Identify Suitable Candidates

How To Use The Scrum Master Interview Questions

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Stefan Wolpers

I have worked for 17-plus years as a Scrum Master, Product Owner, and agile coach. Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) with Scrum.org.