What questions can be asked in an interview for a Scrum Master job? There can be too many questions, and in my mind, if you think about it, you can come up with 100 or more questions. I consider it an ineffective tactic in which it is necessary to prepare answers to all possible questions. Firstly, as we have already said, there can be too many questions, and you cannot remember the correct answers to all questions. And secondly, you may be asked questions that you did not plan to answer.
Therefore, we suggest you divide all possible questions into types and build tactics precisely on the kinds of questions and not specifically on each question. But, if you want to get a list of possible interview questions, then below in this article are five types of Scrum Master interview questions and examples of Scrum Master interview questions for each type. Of course, there can be many more questions in practice, but we have included here those interview questions that were asked in interviews with our students.
So, there are five types of questions in the Scrum Master interview:
Here is the list of possible questions and short recommendations to answer these questions:
Typical interview questions:
- Tell me something about yourself.
- How did you hear about this position?
- Why do you want to work here?
- Why did you decide to apply for this position?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you know about this company/organization?
- Why should we hire you?
- What is your greatest accomplishment?
- What are your salary requirements?
- Do you have any questions for us?
- What are you looking for from a new position?
- Are you considering other roles in other companies?
- What is the professional achievement you’re most proud of?
- What kind of working environment do you work best in?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Of course, we recommend that you answer these questions as honestly and truthfully as possible, but you must remember that you are interviewing for a Scrum Master. Your potential employer wants to hear answers from you as a perfect Scrum Master. If you are asked to tell about yourself, then there is no need to spend a long time talking about something that cannot relate to the position of a Scrum Master. Try to stay within less than a minute when you talk about yourself in the context of something that does not apply to the Scrum Master.
At the same time, focus on what could potentially be of interest to the interviewer. For example, when talking about yourself, you can say that you have successfully passed such and such certifications or that you have been working as a Scrum Master for several years. You have been a Scrum Master in different teams and faced other cases. If this is your first interview for the Scrum Master position and you have not worked as a Scrum Master before, tell them about the personal qualities that you will need as a Scrum Master.
For example, you were in the analytics team or the testing team. Still, you were constantly trying to improve the processes to develop a quality product, or you were constantly trying to turn the weaknesses of your process into strengths. This is very popular with potential employers. If you are asked a question about your weaknesses, the main thing here is not to say that you do not have them. Yes, even if you think so, do not forget that your goal is to attract the interviewer, and if he or she hears that you have no flaws, it is highly likely that they will not believe you.
At the same time, you need to understand that there is no need to talk about your shortcomings. Try to present your weaknesses in a way that makes a positive out of them. For example, you can say that as a Scrum Master, you sometimes insist on using the burndown chart (the main word here is INSIST). Not recommend but insist. And as we know, it is not good practice according to the Scrum Guide, and the Scrum Master should not do this, but at the same time, as the practice has shown, in the end, everyone benefited from it.
Or, for example, you can say that you consider it minus that when the other team wins a competition, you are a little jealous of it because you ask yourself the question: Why didn’t I win this competition? Where should I increase efficiency so that my team will win the competition next time? On the one hand, you say that this is your shortcoming. On the other hand, the employer sees that you are striving for improvements.
Scrum and Agile theory questions
- How are Sprint Goals being used throughout the Sprint?
- What is the definition of done?
- What are the acceptance criteria?
- What does transparency mean in Scrum?
- Is it possible to finish the Sprint without Increment?
- In what ways could Sprint Retrospectives be more engaging, creative, and collaborative?
- What is the Agile Manifesto?
- What events must the Product Owner be present in?
- What is the Product Goal?
- How does a Sprint control risk?
- What are the outcomes of the Daily Scrum?
- What is the purpose of the Sprint Review?
- Who must attend the Sprint Retrospective?
- What skills are needed across the Developers to do their work?
- Who is accountable for creating a plan for Sprint?
- What are the Product Owner's responsibilities?
- What is the outcome of Backlog Refinement?
In general, these questions for you, as for the Scrum Master, should not cause difficulties, but it is necessary to repeat everything before the interview. To answer these questions, we recommend briefly going over the basic concepts of Scrum.
Theoretically, such questions may not be in the interview. And even if they do, their total number should not be significant. Anyway, even if you think you know everything, take 20-30 minutes to review possible questions. At least don't forget, practice makes perfect.
Scrum scenario questions:
- How would you facilitate a daily scrum event, sprint planning and other events?
- How would you deal with conflict or conflicts in the team?
- What’s your style of communication as a Scrum Master?
- How do you motivate your team?
- Is daily scrum recommended for all teams regardless of their size and experience level?
- Can the Scrum team be involved in the product discovery process? If so, explain how.
- As a Scrum Master, how can you understand that the user stories meet the requirements?
- How would you deal with a difficult stakeholder?
- How can you assure that the user stories meet the requirements?
- Explain user story structure with an example
- You are in the middle of a sprint, and suddenly the Product Owner comes to the Team with a new requirement. What will you do?
You need to understand that the interviewer expects more practical answers from you. It would be ideal (if possible) to answer from your own experience.
On the one hand, what is very important is to answer truthfully (that is, without inventing something), but on the other hand, it would be pleasant for the employer. For example, you were asked a question: there is a conflict in the Scrum team that affects its effectiveness. As a Scrum Master, what are your actions?
If you had such a case, you should hint at this to your interviewer. You will clearly let the interviewer know that you have already encountered this. But, it would be best if you thought about how to answer the questions correctly.
I would recommend that you focus on the fact that you did not take sides but rather listened to all parties and realized that the conflict is because initially, the two sides did not have a common understanding of the problem. But, there can be many great other options for answering these questions. Moreover, there may be a hundred or even more such questions.
Therefore, I repeat that I do not recommend you prepare answers for every question. Instead, separate the questions into different types.
If, quite realistically, you are asked a question, and you understand that you have not encountered this in practice, we recommend that you do not tell the interviewer about this. No one is forcing you to deceive the interviewer. Just start your answer with general phrases so that the interviewer does not clearly understand that you have not had practice. I want to emphasize that the more practice you have, the more the interviewer will like it.
What if you don't know how to answer a question? The answer is straightforward: it is better not to invent anything but to say right away that you are not sure about the correct answer. If the situation allows, say that there can be several correct answers, and all of them are right. If you have nothing to say at all, it is better to answer so that you have never encountered this and therefore can only assume but are not sure that this is the right action. Most interviewers value honesty and sincerity.
Questions about the ideal Scrum Master questions:
- When should a Scrum Master not act as a facilitator?
- How will the Scrum Master ensure that the team delivers action items on time?
- What do you mean by Scrum Master as a Servant Leader?
- How can a Scrum Master ensure that the team is implementing the three pillars of Scrum?
A significant point to pay attention to: on the one hand, you must describe how you see the ideal Scrum Master and the processes in which he or she takes part, and on the other hand, you need to understand whether these processes apply to the company in which you are interviewing. Maybe you correctly describe what the Scrum Master should do, but if it is impossible to do something in this company, an awkward moment will arise.
To avoid this awkwardness, we recommend that you describe some ideal process and immediately say that in real life, this cannot always be done because there may be restrictions in the company and give an alternative, less satisfactory, but realistic scenarios. At this stage, a potential employer may see that you are inclined to adapt to different scenarios, and the employer will appreciate this skill.
Bad experience questions:
And the last type of questions: very many interviewers ask to talk about some bad experience. I will say right away that this applies not only to the Scrum Master but to almost all interviews. It is vital not to answer here: I have no shortcomings, or I have not had unsuccessful projects, etc. Even if all your projects were perfect, answer like this, but immediately specify that you encountered such and such difficulties.
Everyone makes mistakes. And the Scrum Master, like no one else, should understand this. This is an entirely normal process. Most interviewers want to hear from you about how you would behave or behaved in such a situation. Therefore, describe your failures in detail, but be sure to specify what you did to correct the situation. Emotionally, this can significantly affect your chances, and if you give a cool answer, your chances of becoming a Scrum Master will significantly increase.
This will significantly intrigue the interviewer. For example, you can report that at some point, you realized that the development process is slowing down because the team does not fully understand the product owner, and you, as a Scrum Master, did not see it in time. And here is your chance to tell him what you did to fix the situation and how you helped the team become effective again.
So, we have analyzed the main types of questions in the interview. These are questions on wages, privileges, work schedules, etc. Please do not forget, in addition to these questions; there are so-called non-professional questions.
We will not give you advice on answers to these questions because we are not experts in this area. You need to understand that not all six types of questions will necessarily be asked in an interview, but at least a few of these questions will be asked to you.
And the last thing I want to advise you: be more cheerful. This mood can be transmitted to the interviewer. Even if you know that the answer is not entirely correct, continue to be an optimist.