Interviewing for a Scrum Master Role? Practice These Interview Questions

7 minutes

When it comes to interviewing for a new job, feeling confident going into the technical interview is one of the best feelings you can have. If you’ve done a handful of interviews already, you probably know that they generally get easier the more you do. And this gives you more confidence going into your next interview.

But if you’re early in your interview journey or looking for more ways to prepare for an upcoming interview, one of the best ways you can gain confidence is by practicing interview questions. You can do this by reviewing questions on your own or by recruiting a friend or family member to do a mock interview with you.

Here are 15 Scrum Master interview questions that you can review to help you prepare for your technical interview.

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1. How would you compare Agile and Scrum?

To answer this question, you can discuss the differences and similarities between Agile and Scrum. For differences, Agile is a broad-spectrum methodology used for project management, while Scrum is a form of Agile that describes the process and its steps more concisely. Agile is a practice, whereas Scrum is a type of this practice.

For similarities, Agile involves completing projects in incremental steps. Agile methodology is considered to be iterative. Being a form of Agile, Scrum is also incremental and iterative.

2. What are the responsibilities of a Scrum Master?

One way to think of a Scrum Master is a combination of a coach and a manager who has technical expertise. Some of the key responsibilities of a Scrum Master are leading meetings, resolving technical issues, tracking and monitoring project milestones, communicating and reporting project progress, resolving conflicts and impediments, acting as the process quality master, preventing distractions, and helping to improve team performance.

3. What are the artifacts of the Scrum process?

Here are the four Scrum process artifacts:

  1. Product Backlog: This is an ordered list of everything that might be needed in the product. It’s the single source of requirements for any changes to be made to the product. The Product Owner is responsible for the Product Backlog, including its content, availability, and ordering.
  2. Sprint Backlog: This is the set of Product Backlog items selected for the Sprint, plus a plan for delivering the product increment and realizing the Sprint Goal. The Sprint Backlog is a forecast by the development team about what functionality will be in the next increment and the work needed to deliver that functionality into a “Done” increment.
  3. Velocity Chart: This shows the sum of estimates of the work delivered across all iterations. Typically, velocity, which is measured by engineer hours, user story, story points, etc., will stabilize through the life of a project unless the project team make-up varies widely or the length of the iteration changes.
  4. Burn-down Chart: This shows how quickly you and your team are burning through your customer’s user stories. It shows the total effort against the amount of work you deliver on each iteration.

4. What are the major ceremonies you perform in a Scrum?

There are three major ceremonies performed in Scrum.

  1. The first is the Planning Meeting where “The Three Amigos” (Scrum Teams, Scrum Master, and Product Owner) meet and discuss each item from the product backlog that they can work on in the Sprint. During this initial Scrum Ceremony, the team defines the word “done” as it relates to the project’s deliverables. The team agrees on what it means when a deliverable is considered completed. This is known as the “DoD” (Definition of Done).
  2. The next ceremony is the Review Meeting, which is when the Scrum team presents their work to the stakeholders.
  3. And the Sprint Retrospective Meeting is when The Three Amigos revisit the last Sprint they worked on. They focus on discussing what went well, what could be done better, and the next action items.

In addition to these three ceremonies, there’s one called “Backlog Grooming.” In this ceremony, The Three Amigos meet with the product owner. The product owners put forward the business requirements, which were determined and agreed upon earlier by the team, and identify the complexities and needs of those requirements. The team may also do the story pointing (units of measurement used to estimate the effort required to complete a story) at this stage.

5. What are daily stand-up meetings, and how would you conduct them?

To answer this question, explain how teams meet each day at the same time and place (standing up in front of the task board) and give updates about their tasks and tickets for the day. Team members may join remotely if they’re not in the office.

During the stand-up meeting, team members will discuss what you’ve completed since the last meeting, what they plan to complete by the next meeting, and any issues or obstructions getting in their way.

6. What are some project management tools used in agile and Scrum?

There are several  Scrum and Agile-relevant PM tools available, including Rally Software, Version One, XPlanner, EasyBacklog, iceScrum, Agilefant, and Agilo.

You may want to mention that these tools bear no resemblance to the waterfall PM tools, like MS-Project or Clarity.

7. How can a Storyboard be defined?

A storyboard is typically used in Agile development and visual representations of a software project’s progress. The four typical columns on a storyboard are To Do, In Progress, In Testing , and Done. Tickets or notes are moved through each appropriate column indicating the progress of individual development items.

8. How do you define a user story?

A User Story tells a short story of someone using the product and is defined using the following template: As a [describe user], I want/need to [define functionality] so that [identify benefit].

Here’s an example: As a customer, I want to be able to compare similar Airbnbs so I can book the best option.

9. Describe a Scrum product backlog

Before the Scrum Sprint begins, the product owner reviews the list of all new features, change requests, enhancements, and bug reports, and then they determine their priority.

If the project is new, it includes new features that the new system must provide. This list of items is the Product Backlog. The items that are kept on Sprint are referred to as Sprint Backlog.

10. What is a Scrum burndown chart?

A Scrum burndown chart should consist of four components:

  1. X-axis that displays working days
  2. Y-axis that displays remaining effort
  3. Ideal effort as a guideline
  4. Actual progress of effort

11. What is an “increment”?

An increment is everything that has been completed in previous sprints as well as anything that is considered “done” during the current sprint. Anything completed during an increment is considered ready to be delivered or deployed.

12. What is a “build-breaker”?

A build-breaker is a bug in the software that causes the compilation process to stop, execution to fail, or a warning to be generated.

13. What is Scrum-ban?

Scrum-ban is a Scrum and Kanban-based model for software development. This model is specifically used for projects that need continuous maintenance, have various programming errors, or have sudden changes. Scrum-ban promotes completing a project in minimum time for a programming error or user story.

14. Is it ever preferable to use waterfall over Scrum? If so, when?

Yes, Waterfall should be used instead of Scrum when the customer requirements are simple, well-defined, fully understood, predictable, and not subject to change until the project is complete.

15. The Agile Manifesto says, “people over processes.” Doesn’t the Scrum Master’s role of enforcing the process contradict this statement?

This question is meant to test whether you understand that the role of a Scrum Master is to lead as opposed to managing the team. And this is an important distinction because a Scrum Master doesn’t have management responsibilities and the Scrum team doesn’t report to them. This question also helps determine why a candidate is interested in the role of Scrum Master in the first place.

You could answer this question by describing how the Scrum Master is the facilitator for the Scrum team, and it’s their job to make the team successful. Also, consider explaining how the Scrum Master is neither a project manager nor a people manager. They remove impediments but don’t tell people what to do. The Scrum Master is the Scrum team’s coach, encouraging the team to excel as an agile team.

More resources to help you ace your interview

If you’re looking for a refresher on the role and responsibilities of a Scrum Master, check out What is a Scrum Master for more in-depth information. Also, check out What is Scrum to learn more about the anatomy of a Scrum project, and What is Agile for a review of how developers implement Agile.

For more interview prep, read our complete guide to the technical interview, as well as our tips on answering behavioral interview questions. We also cover whiteboard interviews. Visit our Career Center for even more interview and job-hunting advice and support.

As a Scrum Master, one of the most important parts of your job on a software development team is having the most current skills and knowledge to support your projects and colleagues. This means staying up-to-date on front-end languages, like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, and back-end languages, like PHP, SQL, and Python (and many more). If you’re looking for ways to add to your skill set, check out our full course catalog.

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