Top 30+ Scrum Master Interview Questions and Answers [Updated 2020]

Scrum is a popular Agile framework that incorporates the best principles that Agile has to offer. Thanks to this, Scrum has found widespread acceptance and usage by several organizations across the world. In this article on Scrum Master interview questions, we’re going to help you learn everything you need to know to ace your next Scrum Interview.

Scrum Master Interview Questions

1. What is Scrum?

Scrum is an Agile framework that can help teams work together. Scrum can enable teams to learn from experiences, self-organize while working on problems, to reflect on their victories and failures, to make improvements. This Agile Scrum interview question is often used as a starter question to get the interview moving. 

2. Define the roles in Scrum?

  • Product Owner: The product owner is an individual who is responsible for increasing the ROI by determining product features, prioritizing these features into a list, what needs to be focused on the upcoming sprint, and much more. These are constantly re-prioritized and refined.
  • Scrum Master: This individual helps the team in learning to apply Scrum to ensure optimum business value. The scrum master removes impediments, shields the team from distractions, and enables them to adopt agile practices.
  • Scrum Team: They are a collection of individuals who work together to ensure that the requirements of the stakeholders are delivered.

3. What are the responsibilities of the Scrum Team?

The Scrum Team is one that’s self-organizing and involves five to seven members. The following are their responsibilities:

  • Working products must be developed and delivered during each sprint.
  • Ownership and transparency must be ensured for the work assigned to the team members.
  • Correct and crisp information must be provided to ensure a successful daily scrum meeting.
  • They must collaborate with the team and themselves.

4. Differentiate Between Agile and Scrum.

The difference between Agile and Scrum is a very fundamental and common Agile Scrum interview question asked in an interview.

Agile

Scrum

It is a set of principles that’s iterative and incremental in nature

It is an implementation of the Agile methodology

It is suited for projects involving a small team of experts

It is used in teams that need to handle constant changing requirements

The project head takes care of all tasks and is vital to the project

There is no leader. Issues are handled by the scrum master and the team

Changes cannot be handled frequently

Teams can react to changes quickly

It requires frequent delivery to the end-user

Sprints provide workable builds of the final product to the user for feedback

There are face-to-face interactions between cross-functional teams

There are daily stand-up meetings help with collaboration

Design and execution is simple

Design and execution can be innovative and experimental

5. What are the Artifacts of the Scrum Process?

  • Product Backlog: It is a list that consists of new features, changes to features, bug fixes, changes to the infrastructure, and other activities to ensure a particular output can be obtained.
  • Sprint Backlog: It is a subset of the product backlog that contains tasks focused on by the team to satisfy the sprint goal. Teams first identify the tasks to be completed from the product backlog. These are then added to the sprint backlog.
  • Product Increment: It is a combination of all product backlog items completed in a sprint and the value of previous sprints' increments. The output must be in usable condition, even if the product owner doesn’t release it.

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6. How are the Product and Sprint Backlog different from One Another?

Product Backlog

Sprint Backlog

It is a list of items that need to be completed for developing the product

It is a list of items to be completed during each sprint

The backlog is collected from the customer by the product owner and assigned to the team

The team collects the backlog from the product owner and sets up the time frame for the sprint

It has a specific end goal

It is specific to a sprint

Based on customer vision

Can vary based on product vision defined by the product owner

It’s independent of the sprint backlog

It’s dependant on the product backlog

The product owner maintains the backlog until the project is complete

Each new sprint has backlogs added by the team

7. Who is a Scrum Master? And what does he/she do?

A Scrum Master is someone who promotes and supports the usage of Scrum within the team.

  • He/She understands the theory, practices, rules and, values of Scrum
  • He/She ensures that the team follows the values, principles and, practices of Scrum
  • They remove any distractions and impediments that hamper the progress of the project
  • The Scrum Master ensures that the team delivers value during the sprint

8. What happens in Daily Stand-up sessions?

Stand-up sessions are daily discussions that take place and are usually 15 minutes long. Daily Stand-up sessions help understand:

  • What tasks went well
  • What tasks were completed 
  • What tasks are pending, and
  • The obstacles the team is facing

The meeting helps in understanding the overall scope and status of the project. Further discussions can take place after the stand-up sessions.

9. What is Scrum-ban?

  • Scrum-ban is a methodology that’s a combination of Scrum and Kanban. Scrum-ban can be used to meet the needs of the team, and to minimize the batching of work, and to adopt a pull-based system.
  • It ingeniously includes the structure of Scrum and the flexibility and visualization of Kanban.

10. What is Sprint 0 and Spike?

  • Sprint 0 refers to the small amount of effort put in to create a rough skeleton of the product backlog. It also includes insights towards estimating the release of products. Sprint 0 is required for: 
    • Creating the project skeleton, along with research spikes
    • Keeping minimal design
    • Developing some stories completely
    • Having low velocity and being lightweight
  • The spike is a set of activities that involve Extreme Programming (XP) for research, design, investigation, creating POCs, etc.
  • The spike aims to reduce risks of the technical approach, helping gain knowledge to better understand requirements and improve reliability

11. What is ‘Scrum of Scrums’?

  • It is a terminology used for scaled agile technologies, which is required to control and collaborate with multiple scrum teams. It is best used in situations where teams are collaborating on complex assignments. 
  • It is also used to ensure that the required transparency, collaboration, adaption, and adoption are established and to ensure that the products are deployed and delivered. 

12. What is User-Story Mapping?

  • User story mapping represents and arranges user stories that help with understanding system functionalities, system backlog, planning releases, and providing value to customers.
  • They arrange user stories based on their priority on the horizontal axis. On the vertical axis, they are represented based on the increasing levels of sophistication.

13. What happens in a Sprint Retrospective?

The sprint retrospective takes place after the sprint review. During this meeting, past mistakes, potential issues, and new methods to handle them are discussed. This data is incorporated into the planning of a new sprint.

14. What is Empirical Process Control in Scrum?

  • Empiricism refers to work that’s based on facts, experiences, evidence, observations, and experimentation. It is established and followed in Scrum to ensure project progress and interpretation is based on facts of observations.
  • It relies on transparency, observation, and adaption.
  • The mindset of the team and the shift in thought process and culture are essential to achieve the agility required by the organization.

15. What are Some drawbacks to using Scrum?

  • Scrum requires individuals with experience
  • Teams need to be collaborative and committed to ensuring results
  • A scrum master with lesser experience can cause the collapse of the project
  • Tasks need to be well defined, lest the project has many inaccuracies
  • It works better for smaller projects and is difficult to scale to larger, more complex projects
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16. What are the key skills of a Scrum Master?

  • A strong understanding of Scrum and Agile concepts
  • Fine-tuned organizational skills
  • Familiarity with the technology used by the team
  • To be able to coach and teach the team to follow Scrum practices
  • Having the ability to handle conflicts and resolve them quickly
  • To be a servant leader

17. How can discord be dealt with within the Scrum Team?

  • The issue’s root cause needs to be identified and addressed
  • Complete ownership needs to be established
  • Try to diffuse the disagreement
  • Emphasize on focus areas that complement the project
  • A common understanding needs to be established to guide the team
  • Performing continuous monitoring and providing complete visibility

18. What is a User Story?

  • A user story is an agile software development/ project management tool that provides teams with simple, natural language explanations of one or more features of the project that’s written from the perspective of the end-user.
  • The user story doesn’t go into detail but only mentions how certain types of work will bring value to the end-user. The end-user, in this case, could be an external component or an internal customer/colleague within the organization.
  • They also form the building block of agile frameworks like epics and other initiatives.
  • They ensure that the teams work towards the goals of the organization, with the help of epics and initiatives.
  • The requirements to make a user story a reality are added later, after discussions with the team.
  • They are recorded on post-it notes, index cards, or project management software.

19. How are user stories, epics, and tasks different?

  • User Stories: They provide the team with simple explanations of the business’ requirements created from the end user's perspective.  
  • Epics: An epic is a collection of related user stories. They are usually large and complex.
  • Tasks: Tasks are used to break down user stories further. They’re the smallest unit in Scrum that is used to track work. A person or a team of two people usually work on a task.

20. What is a Sprint?

  • Sprint is a terminology used in Scrum, used to describe a time-boxed iteration.
  • During a sprint, a specific module or feature of the product is created.
  • The duration of a sprint can vary between a week or two.

21. What is Velocity?

Velocity is a metric used to measure the amount of work completed by a team during a sprint. It refers to the number of user stories completed in a sprint. 

22. What are the responsibilities of a Product Owner?

  • Defines the vision for the project
  • Anticipates the needs of the customer and creates appropriate user stories
  • Evaluates project progress
  • Acts as a liaison for all product-related questions

23. What is a Burnup and Burndown Chart?

  • A burnup chart is a tool that’s used to track the amount of work that’s been completed and to represent the total amount of work that needs to be done for a sprint/project.
  • A burndown chart represents how fast working through user stories is. It shows total effort against the amount of work for each iteration.

24. How is Estimation Done in a Scrum Project?

  • The estimation of user stories is done based on their difficulty 
  • A particular scale is used to assess the difficulty of the user stories. Some type of scales are: 
    • Numeric Sizing (1 - 10)
    • T-shirt Sizes (S, M, L, XL…)
    • Fibonacci Series (1, 2, 3, 5, 8…)
    • Dog breeds (Great Dane, Chihuahua…)

25. What are some risks in Scrum? How are they handled?

Some types of risks in Scrum are:

  • Budget: The risk of exceeding budgets
  • People (team): Team members need to be of appropriate skill and capability
  • Sprint (duration and deliverables): Exceeding the duration, addition of  the scope of work
  • Product (user stories, epics): Having ill-defined user stories and epics
  • Knowledge and capability: Having the appropriate resources 

Managing risks involves identifying, assessing, analyzing, defining, and implementing risk responses, monitoring, and managing them. These are done on a continual basis right from the starting of the project until completion. It is essential to understand that the impact of the risk is based on the proximity of the actual occurrence of the risk.

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26. How does a Scrum Master track Sprint progress?

  • Daily Scrum meetings
  • Scrum retrospectives
  • Sprint planning
  • Escaped defects
  • Defect density
  • Sprint burndown
  • Team velocity 

27. How to deal with Score Creep?

Score creep refers to a change that’s uncontrolled and added without checking its impact on scope, time, cost, etc. 

To handle it, here’s what needs to be done: 

  • Close monitoring of work being done on a day-to-day basis.
  • Understanding and communicating the vision to the team and ensuring they’re aligned.
  • Capturing, reviewing the project requirements regularly (against what is delivered), to emphasize to the team & customer about the requirements signed off.
  • Ensuring that any changes introduced go through change control & are implemented based on the approval for change request.
  • Avoid gold plating.

28. What are MVP and MMP?

  • Minimum viable product (MVP) is a Lean Startup concept that stresses the impact of learning while performing product development. This allows one to test and understand the idea by getting exposed to the initial version for target customers & users. To accomplish this, one has to collect all the relevant data and learn from that collected data. The thought behind MVP is to produce the product, to provide access to the users, and to observe how the product is used, perceived, and understood. This will also provide more insight towards what the customers’ or users’ needs are.
  • The MMP (Minimal Marketable Product) refers to the description of the product, which will have a minimal number of features that address the requirement of the users. The MMP would help also help the organization reduce the time to market

29. What does DoD mean?

  • Definition of Done (DoD) refers to the collection of deliverables, which includes written codes, comments on coding, unit tests, integration testing, design documents, release notes, etc. This adds verifiable and demonstrable values to project development. DoD is very helpful to scrum while identifying the deliverables to achieve the objective of the projects 
  • It helps with: 
    • Defining the steps required to deliver the iteration
    • The usage of appropriate tools like burndown to make the process more effective
    • Ensuring on-time feedback throughout the project life cycle
    • Ensuring the walkthrough of the product backlog items are done and understood correctly
    • The creation of a checklist for the product backlog items
    • Ensuring the DoD is defined to become task-oriented
    • Involving the product owner for reviewing during the sprint and sprint retrospective

30. How can a Scrum Master be a Servant Leader?

  • The term "servant leader" mainly focuses on the service orientation which a leader should demonstrate.
  • The Scrum Master needs to be a facilitator, a guide, a mentor, etc.
  • This helps the team have increased involvement, empowerment, etc.

31. How can you coordinate between multiple teams?

  • One of the most common approaches for this is the Scrum of Scrums (SoS) meeting, where members representing each scrum team discuss the progress, performance, issues, risks, etc. together.
  • The frequency of these meetings must be pre-defined. Generally, scrum masters would represent a particular scrum team, besides having the Chief Scrum Master (whose responsibility is coordination & collaboration among all the scrums) who facilitates these meetings.
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Next Steps

In this article on Agile Scrum Interview Questions, we covered some important questions that’ll get you the dream job you’re looking for. Think you need more advanced upskilling? You can check out Simplilearn’s Agile Scrum Master Certification Training Course. In this course, we cover how Agile can be implemented, different Agile methodologies, Scrum concepts, and much more in detail. The course will also enhance your ability to develop and deliver quality products to customers. 

And in case you have any questions, let us know in the comment section of this ‘Agile Scrum Interview Questions’ article, and our experts will get back to you at the earliest.

About the Author

Rahul ArunRahul Arun

Rahul is a Senior Research Analyst at Simplilearn. Blockchain, Cloud Computing, and Machine Learning are some of his favorite topics of discussion. Rahul can be found listening to music, doodling, and gaming.

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