When hiring a Scrum Master, conducting a comprehensive interview process is crucial to identify the right fit for your team. The right questions will help you evaluate candidates' proficiency in Scrum methodologies, problem-solving capabilities, interpersonal skills, and personality.
Revelo can help you on this journey. With our experience in talent sourcing, we can aid you in identifying top-tier Scrum Masters, assist in scheduling the interviews, and offer guidance throughout the interview process, enhancing its efficiency and effectiveness.
In this article, you’ll learn what Scrum Masters do and discover a variety of junior-, mid-, and senior-level Scrum master interview questions and answers to help you find the right candidates for your company.
What Is a Scrum Master?
A Scrum Master is pivotal in the Scrum framework, an Agile methodology for managing and organizing complex projects. Acting as a facilitator and servant-leader, the Scrum master is responsible for ensuring the Scrum team members stick to the principles and practices of Scrum, ultimately promoting efficient collaboration, adaptability, and timely project delivery. Having earned a Scrum master certification, Scrum masters guide the team through the Scrum process, remove obstacles that hinder progress, and foster a culture of continuous improvement.
The Scrum framework's adaptability makes it suitable for projects where frequent changes or iterations are essential to success. Scrum Masters can be an asset across a diverse range of these projects, especially those that are complex with evolving requirements. They’re most valuable in software development, product development, and creative endeavors like marketing campaigns or content creation.
Entry-Level Scrum Master Interview Questions
If you’ve decided to bring in an entry-level Scrum Master, asking candidates the right questions is important. You will want to assess candidates’ foundational understanding of the Scrum framework, plus the candidates’ problem-solving abilities and potential to facilitate seamless team collaboration.
Questions may revolve around candidates’ familiarity with Scrum processes like sprint planning, daily Scrum meetings, and retrospectives, as well as their ability to handle obstacles to team progress. You should also try to understand candidates’ approach to promoting transparency, a culture of continuous improvement, and adaptability in the face of changing project requirements.
Below are a few interview questions to ask an entry-level Scrum Master.
What are the key roles in Scrum, and what do they do?
This question is important because it helps assess candidates' foundational knowledge of Scrum roles. It may also reveal candidates' awareness of the importance of collaboration, communication, and effective facilitation in maintaining a well-functioning Scrum team.
The key roles in Scrum are product owner, Scrum Master, and development team member. The product owner represents the stakeholders' interests and maintains a clear and prioritized product backlog. The Scrum Master role serves as a facilitator and coach, supporting the team in adhering to Scrum practices and removing any impediments that may hinder progress. The development team is responsible for delivering potentially shippable increments of work during each sprint, focusing on collaboration and self-organization to achieve the sprint goal.
How would you solve a roadblock?
This question is crucial, as it evaluates candidates' problem-solving abilities within the Scrum framework. Ask candidates to imagine a situation where the team faces a roadblock that threatens the sprint's progress. How would they approach identifying the root cause of the issue, and what steps would they take to facilitate the team's resolution of the impediment while keeping to Scrum principles?
Here’s what an answer might look like: “I would first initiate a thorough assessment to pinpoint the root cause of the issue. I would engage the team in a collaborative discussion to gather insights and perspectives, ensuring transparency and open communication. Following Scrum principles, I'd facilitate a focused retrospective session to delve into the problem's origin and identify potential solutions. Encouraging active participation, I'd ensure that the resolution aligns with the sprint goal and the team's capacity.”
How do you lead a daily stand-up?
To lead a daily stand-up, a Scrum Master should gather the development team and encourage them to share their progress, challenges, and plans for the day in a succinct manner. They should ensure the meeting remains focused and time-bound, addressing any issues requiring immediate attention while refraining from getting off-track.
Scrum Masters may ask every team member the following open-ended questions:
- What did you accomplish yesterday?
- What do you plan to do today?
- Have you encountered any obstacles?
This Scrum Master interview question is significant because efficient daily stand-ups are crucial to Scrum teams, and the question assesses their knack for promoting team engagement and progress updates within a time constraint.
Mid-Level Scrum Master Interview Questions
When interviewing candidates for a mid-level Scrum Master position, interview questions should go deeper into their practical experience, decision-making capabilities, and capacity to navigate complex project scenarios. These questions aim to uncover their ability to mentor and guide cross-functional teams, resolve conflicts, and drive continuous improvement.
Here are some questions when interviewing for a mid-level Scrum Master position.
What are some reasons your team could be failing to meet deadlines?
Possible reasons a candidate could give include:
- Incomplete definition of readiness: When user stories lack proper preparation and clarification, it becomes challenging to accurately estimate their complexity, causing inaccurate planning and resource allocation, potentially leading to delays and rework.
- Frequent team member changes: If team composition experiences frequent shifts, it can lead to disruptions in collaboration and knowledge transfer among team members, ultimately affecting project stability and momentum.
- Imbalanced skill distribution: An uneven distribution of junior and senior team members creates skill gaps that hinder productivity and create misaligned expectations.
- Undocumented legacy code: If the team is grappling with legacy code that lacks documentation, it becomes difficult to understand, modify, and maintain the existing system.
- Accumulated technical debt: Accumulated technical debt and subpar code quality create a burden on the team, underscoring the need for proactive code improvements to ensure long-term sustainability.
This question is crucial in an interview, as it provides valuable insights into a candidate's problem-solving skills, understanding of project dynamics, and ability to assess and address challenges within a Scrum environment.
Describe a particularly challenging retrospective you facilitated.
A good answer to this question could look like this: “I once facilitated a retrospective after a sprint where the team faced persistent communication breakdowns and missed sprint goals. In this challenging situation, I employed techniques to create a safe environment for open dialogue, encouraged team members to share their observations and concerns, and facilitated discussions to uncover root causes.
These techniques included team members giving anonymous feedback, emphasizing the prime directive and that everyone did their best given the circumstances, and beginning retrospectives with a round where team members express appreciation for their colleagues' contributions.”
This question is vital because it reveals candidates' practical experience in handling complex team dynamics, their adeptness in facilitating constructive retrospectives, and their skill in transforming challenges into opportunities for continuous improvement.
How do you coach a team member who is resistant to Scrum?
This question is important because it assesses a candidate's ability to navigate resistance, tailor communication strategies, and effectively coach team members.
Here’s an example of an appropriate answer to this question: “I encountered a situation where a team member was hesitant to transition to Agile Scrum values due to concerns about perceived loss of control over individual tasks. To address this, I initiated one-on-one discussions to understand their reservations and provided clear explanations of how to use Scrum theory, emphasizing improved collaboration, adaptability, and faster value delivery. I gradually gained their buy-in and guided them in embracing Agile principles.”
Senior-Level Scrum Master Interview Questions
Interview questions for a senior-level Scrum Master position should assess candidates’ ability to lead complex projects, mentor teams, and guide organizations towards Agile excellence. Questions may revolve around their adeptness in scaling Agile methodologies, driving cultural transformations, collaborating with executive stakeholders, and orchestrating Agile frameworks across departments. These questions aim to unearth a candidate's strategic thinking, deep understanding of Agile principles, and capacity to drive meaningful change.
Below are a few interview questions to ask a senior-level Scrum Master.
How would you respond if a product powder delegated user stories to individual team members?
It’s important to ask this question to determine whether a candidate is willing to initiate challenging conversations for team productivity.
If a product owner assigns user stories to team members, they're implying they know better than the team who the best person for each task is. However, the product owner isn't working with the team all day, so this probably isn't true. Additionally, this can decrease the team's motivation because Scrum teams are supposed to be self-organizing with the agency to assign user stories themselves. A senior-level candidate should address these points and be willing to challenge a product owner when necessary.
How do you assess Agile success at a company?
This question is important because, without a definition of success, Agile teams can start to flounder. Every company needs to define success for itself, but some things to consider include:
- Fewer bugs, technical debt, and other software problems
- Products have higher retention rates because they’re better at meeting client needs
- Team members enjoy working there and refer their friends to open positions
How do you manage dependencies across departments in an Agile context?
Look for answers where candidates demonstrate experience initiating cross-functional communication and coordination and creating shared roadmaps with department leads. Agile and Scrum events like cross-team stand-ups and scaled retrospectives can help a senior-level Scrum Master encourage transparency, identify bottlenecks, and facilitate collective problem-solving.
This question will help you assess whether a candidate can effectively manage dependencies, helping your company deliver value cohesively and efficiently.
Hire Scrum Masters With Revelo
Sourcing, vetting, and hiring a skilled agile Scrum Master can be challenging, but Revelo can provide professional support. Through our platform, we can connect you with experienced and qualified Scrum Masters who are time zone-aligned and have been rigorously assessed for soft skills, technical skills, and English proficiency.
Our comprehensive support extends beyond matching candidates; Revelo handles crucial onboarding aspects like payroll, benefits administration, taxes, and local compliance, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free hiring process. Contact us now, and we’ll help you find the perfect Scrum Master to drive your Agile initiatives to success.