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.
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.
6. How are the Product and Sprint Backlog different from One Another?
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.
32. What are the Scrum values?
The five Scrum Values are:
- Openness - In order for the Scrum team to make the most progress in the shortest time feasible, each member of the team must be completely honest about their personal development. The objective of the daily Scrum meeting is to identify and address problems. That will happen only if team members are open about any issues or roadblocks they're seeing. Members of the team should be willing to work together and regard each other as important contributions to the project's success.
Scrum masters can create openness by being honest with their teams. Giving honest feedback at daily Scrum meetings inspires team members to be open and honest in return and is important for making necessary modifications.
- Courage - Scrum teams must have the courage to be authentic, open, and honest with themselves and stakeholders about any bottlenecks they experience and the project's progress. Members of the team must also be gutsy enough to ask for help when they need it, try unfamiliar procedures, techniques, and respectfully disagree and debate openly. Scrum masters should foster courage first and foremost by demonstrating it just like respect. In order to avoid mid-sprint modifications or scope creep, the Scrum Master must have the confidence to stand up to product owners and stakeholders.
- Focus - To get the most out of each sprint, every team member must remain focused on the task at hand and how it influences the sprint goal. To keep team members engaged throughout sprints, scrum masters may limit the number of tasks or priority allocated to each team member. Individuals can also stay on task by making sure that the whole team is engaged in daily Scrum sessions.
- Respect - In a Scrum team, respect is accepting that no one person or contribution is more valuable than the other. Respect means appreciating your accomplishments, trusting your teammates to fulfill their tasks and also considering their ideas, and listening to them. Scrum masters may help their teams create mutual respect by demonstrating respect for the team members, product owners, and stakeholders.
- Commitment - To achieve a common purpose, scrum teams must work together. This means trusting one another to finish their tasks and deliver their best. It will only happen only if every member of the team is entirely committed to the team and the project.
33. How would you handle conflict within the team?
Giving individual coaching to team members is one of the most effective strategies to resolve a problem. It is imperative for a Scrum Master to maintain positive relationships with team members and provide guidance when they face challenges.
For a Scrum Master, paying attention to the source of the problem and listening and acting accordingly would go a long way. Any disagreements should be shared with other team members in a manner that they would be open to suggestions for resolving the issue. When a conflict arises, the Scrum Master must intervene so that the process runs smoothly and without hiccups.
The following steps help in handling conflicts within the team:
Step 1 - Scene setting
First, we must determine the source of the team's quarrel. Before taking any action, it is necessary to understand the discrepancy between two groups or two persons. In times of dispute, Scrum Masters typically react aggressively against team members in the hopes of resolving the conflict on their own. However, while this may temporarily cure the problem, it does not address any underlying concerns. The Scrum Master must lead the team and teach them that disagreement is a regular occurrence in the workplace and it can be resolved with assertiveness. It is the leader's responsibility to guarantee that team members' concerns are acknowledged and addressed.
Step 2 - Gathering Information
Gathering facts about the conflict is usually crucial before coming to a conclusion about a certain individual or suppressing the topic. This could be accomplished by listening to each party separately and comprehending the situation from their point of view. The Scrum Master should also consider other team members' perspectives and also respect every team member’s decisions. As a result, the Scrum Master must elicit everyone's assistance in order to gain a picture of the workplace conflict.
Step 3 - Brainstorming to find a solution
It is often impossible for the leader to resolve problems on his or her own. Furthermore, several members of the Scrum Team would have better answers that would quickly remedy the problem. Organizing spontaneous group talks and sharing opinions on various activities would stimulate good discourse between the two people or groups in these situations. This would urge both sides to see things from the other's perspective. This also provides opportunities for superior ideas to be pushed and for the disparity to be bridged.
Step 4 - Solution conferring
Listing all of the possible answers to an issue would only be useful if those solutions were put into action. Scrum Master removes the team's roadblocks by implementing the solution in this step. Throughout the conflict resolution process, remembering to stay calm and respectful will aid in a speedier and more efficient resolution.
34. How would you deal with a difficult stakeholder?
The four strategies by which we can deal with difficult stakeholders are:
- Listen to them carefully - Make an effort to comprehend their point of view. If what they say aggravates you, consider whether their needs are in line with the project's goals. Is it possible that they want things done a little differently? Make efforts to discover some common ground. People desire to be understood and to believe that their voices are heard.
- Estimate their motivation - Try to understand the motivation behind the stakeholders’ opposition. This will allow you to compromise, and come up with a win-win solution, and complete the project. Answer questions like - Are they reporting to a board of directors that has its own reservations? What's the source of your stakeholders' sudden opposition? Are they concerned about exceeding their budget? Concerned that the project may not turn out as planned?
- Meet them one after another - Meeting without other stakeholders in the room relieves stress and allows the stakeholders’ to be more at ease. So, make time to meet with each challenging stakeholder separately. This results in interactions becoming clearer and calmer. Take advantage of this chance to learn more about their point of view and recommended solutions. However, don't ask them why they don't like your plan outright. Ask open-ended inquiries about their thoughts and how the project is moving instead.
- Watch the stakeholders closely by identifying them - Determining the stakeholders and finding out what inspires them should be the first step. Anyone who is influenced by our work has control or influence over it or is interested in its success is referred to as a stakeholder.
35. What are the three pillars of Scrum?
The three pillars of Scrum are summarized below -
Adaption: The method being processed must be changed if an inspector determines that one or more aspects of a process are outside of permitted limits. A correction must be made as quickly as possible to avoid future deviation.
Transparency: Transparency mandates that those elements be specified by a consistent standard in order for viewers to understand what they are viewing. For example, while referring to the process, all participants must use the same terminology. Those reviewing as well as those executing the job and the resulting addition must have the same definition of "done."
Inspection: Scrum users must check Scrum artifacts and progress toward a Sprint Goal on a regular basis to discover unwanted deviations. Inspections should not be carried out so frequently that they constitute a burden to their work. Inspections are most successful when skilled inspectors do them attentively at the point of work.
36. Explain user story structure with an example.
The User Story Structure is defined below -
As a <role of user>,
I want <To achieve a goal / perform a task>,
So that <I may achieve some value/goal>.
User Story of a person’s online course purchase -
As a Customer,
I want to purchase educational courses online from ed-tech websites,
So that I do not have to visit a training center.
37. How can you assure that the user stories meet the requirements?
A good user narrative includes both a description and acceptance criteria. It should be completed in a sprint with the fewest possible dependencies. The team should be able to develop and test while still delivering estimations within the sprint's constraints. In short, good user stories adhere to the INVEST concept.
I → Independent: The user story should be written in such a way that team members are less dependent on one another.
N → Negotiable: it should define the functionality of the user story and is subject to the Product Owner and the Team’s approval.
V → Valuable: It should offer value to the customer's experience.
E → Estimable: This lets us be able to roughly approximate in terms of time.
S → Small: The user story should be tiny enough for the team to finish in a sprint.
T → Testable: Good acceptance criteria after testing is required.
38. What are the five steps of Risk Management?
The five steps of Risk Management are given below -
Risk Identification: To identify the risks that your company is exposed to in its current operating environment. There are several types of risks, such as market risks, legal risks, regulatory risks, environmental risks, etc. It's crucial to be aware of as many risk factors as possible.
Risk Analysis: Once a risk has been identified, it must be investigated. The scope of the danger must be determined. It's also important to understand the connection between other internal factors and risk. It's critical to determine the risk's severity and importance by examining how it affects the business operations.
Ranking the risk: Risks must be ranked and prioritized. Most risk management solutions include numerous risk categories based on the severity of the danger. Risks that may cause minor discomfort are prioritized the least, but risks that can result in significant loss are prioritized the highest.
Treating the risk: As much as possible, all risks should be avoided or reduced by contacting experts in the field in question. In a manual environment, this would include contacting each and every stakeholder and setting up meetings for everyone to discuss the issues.
Risk review: To ensure that it has been entirely eradicated, the risk evaluation is done.
39. What do you mean by timeboxing in Scrum? When can a Sprint be canceled, and by whom?
Timeboxing is the practice of devoting a set amount of time to a single activity. A timebox is a unit of time measurement. A timebox should not exceed 15 minutes in length. A Sprint can be canceled before the Sprint timebox limit ends. Only a Product Owner can cancel the sprint.
40. What do you understand about Scope Creep? How can Scope Creep be managed?
Scope creep is used to describe how a project's requirements tend to grow over time, like - a single deliverable product becomes five when a product with three essential features becomes ten, or when the customer's needs change midway through a project, requiring a reassessment of the project requirements. Changes in project needs from internal miscommunication and disagreements, and key stakeholders are some of the common causes of scope creep.
To manage scope creep, we need to use the change control mechanism to keep it under control. This includes the following -
- Maintaining a baseline scope and keeping track of the project's progress.
- To evaluate actual work performance metrics to the baseline scope, i.e., "How different is the current project from the original plan?", we need to perform Variance analysis.
- Identifying the severity and source of the observed alterations.
- Selecting whether to take preventive or corrective action in response to requests regarding changes.
- To recommend actions and manage all change requests by using the Perform Integrated Change Control method (whether preventive or corrective).
41. When should a Scrum Master not act as a facilitator?
A workshop facilitator must be objective when it comes to the topics being discussed and should avoid contributing facts or opinions to the conversation. Even though a Scrum Master's job is to assist the team in achieving the best possible results, workshop facilitation can be challenging at times. Most of the general product development workshops can be facilitated by the Scrum Master if someone has the required knowledge. The Scrum Master should not facilitate a workshop about modifying the Scrum process.
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