Top Agile Scrum Master Interview Questions and Answers
Here are the top frequently asked Agile Scrum Master interview questions and their answers. These sample questions are framed by experts from Cedar Pro who provide Agile Training, giving you an idea of the types of questions asked in interviews. We have taken full care to make this list of questions all-inclusive.
Testers (developers) ensure that the whole process of testing (development) is broken down into as small steps as possible, and just a small unit of code is tested (developed) in each of these steps. The team of testers (developers) consistently communicates the results of their work and changes the short-term strategy and even the development plan on the go, based on the results of the agile testing. The agile methodology encourages a flexible and rapid response to change, which leads to better end results.
Each day, at a specific time and at a specific place (in front of the task board), the team meets to share updates about their tasks and tickets resolved for the day. This meeting addresses Scrum’s three questions listed below.
• What have you completed since the last meeting?
• What do you plan to complete by the next meeting?
• What is getting in your way?
A release candidate is a build or version of software that can be released to production. Further, testing such as UAT may be performed on this version of the product.
The key features of agile are:
• Daily stand-up meetings
• CRC (Class Responsibility Collaborator) cards
• Timeboxed task boards
• TDD (test-driven development), continuous integration, regular code reviews, pair programming, continuous deployment and delivery, automated builds, etc.
• Iteration planning meetings and iterative development
Agile has a new breed of PM tools including Rally Software, VersionOne, XPlanner, EasyBacklog, IceScrum, Agilefant, and Agilo. These tools bear no resemblance to the waterfall PM tools like MS Project or Clarity.
A storyboard is a visual representation of a software project’s progress. There are generally four columns, namely, ‘To do’, In Progress’, ‘Test’, and ‘Done’. Different coloredpost, its notes are placed in each column indicating the progress of individual development items. A storyboard is typically used in Agile development.
A Scrum Master should make this role their top priority to focus on the benefits of the overall team. Their load will vary from sprint to sprint depending on what impediments and issues the team is dealing with. Newly formed teams typically take more Scrum Master time, 50–100 percent; while experienced Scrum Masters with established well-functioning teams might spend 50 percent or less time on the Scrum Master role.
1. Agile Testers should be able to understand the requirements quickly.
2. They should know Agile concepts and principles.
3. As requirements keep changing, Agile Testers should understand the risk involved in it.
4. Agile Testers should be able to prioritize the work based on the requirements.
5. Communication skills are a must for Agile Testers as they are required to constantly communicate with developers and business associates.
• An Epic is a group of related user stories.
• User Stories define the actual business requirements. They are generally created by the business owner.
• Task: To accomplish the business requirements, the development team creates tasks.
If capacity is measured as a percentage of 40 hours weeks, then completed = story points * team capacity
If capacity is measured in man-hours, then completed story points/team capacity
Before the Scrum sprint initiates, the product owner reviews the list of all new features, change requests, enhancements, and bug reports and determines the priority. If the project is new, it includes new features that the new system must provide. This list of items is referred to as a product backlog. The items that are kept on the sprint are referred to as sprint backlog.
Velocity is a metric that is calculated by the addition of all effort estimates associated with user stories completed in one iteration. It predicts how much work Agile can complete in a sprint and how much time it will require to complete a project.
Scrum masters tend to focus upon one team and influence that team with respect to scrum values and principles where as an Agile Coach is often multiple teams influencing teams with regard to Agile which is a super set of Scrum. The coach should also operate at all different levels of the organization including middle management and senior leaders. In fact some experienced lead coaches believe it should be 10, 60, 30 – Senior, Middle and operational teams.
Coaching helps the team’s performance get better, whereas mentoring is more specific to individuals and the specific problem that a team is trying to solve where you transfer your knowledge and experience that is relevant to that specific problem.
For example, when I meet with XYZ last year, the first thing that we looked at was why the team was focusing on delivering all 60 customers as their key objective rather than just focusing on delivering 1 customer, and then iterating on that process and learning from it. A small and simple adjustment, but it helped the team focus, which in turn increased their performance. So, both are necessary and in one sense are two sides of the same coin that when joined together can help take the team forward.
I think one of the ways to motivate any team is to empower that team to have control over their own work where they own it and are self-governing. Work with PO to vision cast and empower the team with servant leadership.
The work has to be challenging and create an environment in the team in which they can master a particular skill set. Also, aligning the team with a higher purpose will motivate, so having the team aligned with other teams but remaining strongly decoupled with little hand-offs. Being part of a larger vision, engineering strategy will also motivate.
Give the team opportunities to grow – knowledge sharing sessions, lab-like work where they experiment with different ways of doing things including different technologies.
The keyword over in all these manifesto statements. Manifesto is not suggesting to replace the items in right with left rather it stress upon prioritizing left items over right.
• Individuals and Interactions over Processes and Tools.
• Working Software over Comprehensive Documentation.
• Customer Collaboration over Contract Negotiation.
• Responding to Change over Following a Plan.
So, by this I assume you mean middle and senior leaders/managers within the organization
• Depends on their role and what they expect.
• Depends on how I can help that particular role within the organization.
• By facilitating Workshops, training, events to spread Scrum benefits.
By adopting a neutral stance
• Determine whether this is a long term or short term conflict or dispute.• Address the issue openly and honestly and establish understanding between the parties in dispute.
• Make sure each party has been heard and acknowledged.
• Move the conversation towards a positive outcome or a win-win for both parties identifying the opportunities that are present in the midst of the conflict.
– Work with them over time. Trust isn’t something established quickly, it can be quickly lost but not so easily gained.
• Start with those already in trusted positions e.g. PO and then work from there to influence the rest of the team.
• Work with the team. Spend time with people listening and observing.
• Default by trusting people up front and I often find they return it.
• Be transparent and visible, be vulnerable.
• Take the heat for other’s mistakes
Iteration: It is a terminology used to define single development cycle in general agile methods. It is a common term used in the iterative and Incremental development process.
Sprint: It is used to define one development cycle or iterative step in a specialized agile method referred as Scrum. Sprint is scrum specific, and not all forms of iterations are Sprints.
Velocity is a measure of the amount of work a Team can plan during a single Sprint and is the key metric in Scrum. Velocity is calculated at the end of the Sprint by totaling the Points for all fully completed User Stories.
Velocity = Story points * Team capacity
Teams commit to an amount of work for a sprint/iteration based on their average velocity. But a new team doesn’t have a set average velocity so for the first sprint they go by the gut feel of the team. Based on the team members past experience they can tell how much work they can accomplish in a sprint and after pulling that much work in the first sprint they will have to see if that much work was more for them or lesser and based on that experience they choose the amount of work for next sprint and so on. These learning are discussed in the team retrospectives.
Product Owner (PO)
• Accountable for product success.
• Defines all product features.
• Responsible for prioritizing product features.
• Maintains the Product Backlog.
• Insures team working on highest valued features
Scrum Master (SM)
• Holds daily 15 minute team meeting (Daily Scrum).
• Removes obstacles Shields the team from external interference.
• Maintains the Sprint Burn-down Chart.
• Conducts Sprint Retrospective at the end of a Sprint.
• Is a facilitator not a manager
• Team is cross-functional and consists of 3-9 people.
• There are no set project roles within the team.
• Team defines tasks and assignments.
• Team is self-organizing and self-managing.
• Maintains the Sprint Backlog.
• Conducts the Sprint Review.
There are 3 major ceremonies performed in Scrum:-
Backlog grooming Meeting– In this meeting, the scrum team along with the scrum master and product owner. The product owner put forward the business requirements as per the priority and the team discussed over it, identifies the complexity, dependencies and efforts. The team may also do the story pointing at this stage.
Sprint Planning Meeting – Where the entire scrum teams along with the scrum master and product owner meets and discuss each item from the product backlog that they can work on the sprint. When the story is estimated and is well understood by the team, the story then moves into the Sprint Backlog.
Daily Stand-up Meeting – Each day at the same time, the team meets so as to bring everyone up to date on the information that is vital for coordination: each team members briefly describes any “completed” contributions and any obstacles that stand in their way. This meeting is normally time-boxed to a maximum duration of 15 minutes. To keep the meeting short, any topic that starts a discussion is cut short, added to a “parking lot” list, and discussed in greater depth after the meeting, between the people affected by the issue. Three Questions are used to structure discussion
• What did you do yesterday?
• What will you do today?
• Are there any impediments in your way?
Sprint Review Meeting – Where the scrum team demonstrates their work done to the stake holders.
Sprint Retrospective meeting – Where the scrum teams along with the scrum master and product owner meets and retrospect the last sprint they worked on. They majorly discuss about 3 things:
• What went well?
• What could be done better?
• Action Items.
Product Backlog – (PB)
• List of all desired product features.
• List can contain bugs, and non-functional items.
• Product Owner responsible for prioritizing.
• Items can be added by anyone at anytime.
• Each item should have a business value assigned.
• Maintained by the Product Owner.
Sprint Backlog – (SB)
• To-do list (also known as Backlog item) for the Sprint.
• Created by the Scrum Team.
• Product Owner has defined as highest priority.
• Burn-down Chart – (BC)
Chart showing how much work remaining in a Sprint.
• Calculated in hours remaining.
• Maintained by the Scrum Master daily.
Velocity chart- (VC)
A velocity chart shows the sum of estimates of the work delivered across all iterations. Typically, velocity will stabilize through the life of a project unless the project team make-up varies widely or the length of the iteration changes.
Release Backlog – (RB)
Same as the Product Backlog. May involve one or more sprints dependent on determined Release date
It depends on the size and coupling between those teams, and there are various frameworks for it –
• SAFe – Scaled Agile Framework
• LeSS – Large Scale Scrum
• SoS – Scrum of Scrum
focus, openness, courage, commitment, respect
Principles – Iterative development, empirical process control, self-organization, collaboration, value-based prioritization, time-boxing.