Luis Goncalves
Last updated on | Scrum Master

Scrummaster interview questions using Role Play

by Luís Gonçalves

ScrumMaster interview questions

Hi, in this blog post I am going to provide several scrummaster interview questions. In this post, I will talk about a fantastic experience that I had some time ago and give you some ideas for questions to interview a scrum master. If you want to get access to an extensive list questions, just click here.

During all my life I haven´t experienced such an interesting interview like the one I had a couple of weeks ago. Usually, interviews have the same content:

  • “What is your best quality”
  • “What is your worse quality”
  • “What would you do if tomorrow you would become the CTO”
  • “What would you do if you won the lottery”
  • “Where do you see yourself in x years”

I believe most of you will agree with me, this is by far not the best way to figure out whether we are good professionals or not. There are other good ways to figure out it. Let´s take a look at it…

The first thing that impressed me was the fact that a hiring manager made a quite nice background information check; she went through my blog and book, something that I never saw before.

This is quite interesting since you can obtain a lot of information about a candidate just reading his/her blog, but unfortunately, not so many companies do this. At that moment, I was quite happy because I saw they were interested in my knowledge. Now the best part comes…

After asking me some general questions, they told me that we would be doing some role playing. I was: “Wow, this is cool”. At that moment I did not realise how powerful this technique is, but later on, I understood how effective it is.

Is there any better way to know and understand a candidate than through a simulation of a real situation? Typical questions can be prepared, but if you recreate real situations live in the interview, an applicant will demonstrate his real knowledge.

For a question of principles, I will not mention what they asked, but I will leave you some good examples to use in the future in your company. Below you can find some examples of questions.

“Imagine that I am a developer I am completely lost and I do not know what to do or say, and I will ask: “Hey can you please tell me what to do? I am quite lost, and I need some orientation”. This is a typical question where you can analyse whether the candidate is a common command and control type of a person.

If the individual kind of dictates what a developer should do, then you have a command and control person, if the candidate advises the developer to look for help from inside of a team, he is trying to create a self-empowered team.

“Imagine that I am a developer and I like to come to the office in the morning, put my headphones not to be disturbed at all, what would you do to convince the person to try Agile/Scrum?” You can, for example, ask a person if he/she likes to fix bugs.

If not, then you have a good reason to convince him to try Agile, since Agile done in a proper way improve the quality of the code drastically.

“Imagine that I am a developer and SCRUM is something completely new. I do not want to try it because I am afraid of failing, and I believe my boss will accuse me of failing. What would you answer?” You can refer that you will pair with his/her line manager to make sure that he will not be blamed.

“Imagine that I am a developer and SCRUM is something completely new, how can I learn faster?” You can, for example, suggest a person pair with another more senior guy to reduce the learning curve.

There are many other questions that you can use using, for example, Product Owner Role, Line Manager, Top managers and much more. However, the main point of this blog is to emphasise different ways of doing interviews.

When you interview a candidate, try to recreate real situations. I think you will have a much better understanding of the applicant.

At the end of the interview, I had a huge smile on my face. I felt so good, and it was a fantastic experience. I learned a lot within those two hours that I spent with lovely professionals.

Do you think this is useful for you? Will you use anything like this in the next interview that you will conduct? Just leave a comment below.

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Luís Gonçalves

About Luís Gonçalves

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+LuisGonçalves1979

Luis Gonçalves is an Entrepreneur, International Author & Keynote Speaker. As a Management Consultant he works with Senior Executives to implement his ‘Organisational Mastery’ system so they can greatly increase the effectiveness and efficiency of their organisations; enabling them to become recognised and highly rewarded Leaders. Previously much of his career has been spent assisting various organisations become more Agile and better at what they do. Luis and his consultancy has now moved beyond Agile.

Comments

Share your point of view

  1. Hi Luis,
    Thank you for the tips – sounds like they actually were interested in you not just filling the role.
    The last interview I had for a Scrum Master/Coach role ( where I now am) they asked me to listen in on 4 Scrums as a chicken and then comment back to the interview panel on my findings – this was really good for them to see my reactions and for me to see how the teams were performing – a great experience

    1. Hi Luis,

      Thank you for the content! I thought it was a great way to really get to know someone’s resolutions skills!

  2. “drastically the quality of the code drastically. ” – maybe increase somewhere?
    Yes, these kind of interviews are not only interesting but also valuable for interviewee. I like them the most. 🙂

  3. This is part of the behavioral interview techniques, and yes it is much better than the usual standard interview-type questions. I have done similar things when I interview candidates.

  4. Hi Luis,

    Good post. Agree with you about different ways of doing interviews and getting info.

    I have been doing interviews for over 10 years now and never asked questions like those ‘traditional’ ones. As I interview scrum masters and agile coaches, I am always wanting the candidate to describe their approaches and practices. It’s amazing how such a simple question such as “how do you do release planning” reveals.

    I have also asked candidates to facilitate a retrospective session at the interview – again reveals a lot about their experience.

    Blogs, slideshare, LinkedIn, twitter and meetup.com are good to get some background information too.

    I have refrained from blogging about this topic as I dont want to give too much away. 🙂

    1. Thanks 🙂 I didn’t get something:

      “I have refrained from blogging about this topic as I dont want to give too much away.”

      What do you mean with this? You do not want to share information about this? If this is what you mean sorry but I fully disagree 🙂 how can you help people and organisations if you want to keep the good stuff for you? Share and help the others and wonderful things will happen to you 😉

      Luis

    2. You misunderstood.

      What I meant by that is a didn’t create a post similar this one in the past as I didn’t want to give away what I do in interviews to perspective candidates – it was more of a tongue in cheek comment.

      I love sharing and that’s why I have my own blog and am active in the local community.

      Chris

  5. Luis, interesting to read how interviews are changing, which I think is great.

    I’ve worked with several customers in a somewhat similar way. I had a first talk, where I met with the customer and where we shortly discussed their needs. Next I invest a maximum of 4 hours in attending any ongoing scrum meetings as a “chicken”, so just observing what was happening.Based upon that I write a 1-2 page proposal with feedback from what I have seen, steps that they can take to realize their needs, and what I can do to help them with it.

    Customers are often pleasantly surprised from the feedback that they get, in 4 hours I can observe a lot by just watching. Also the initial impact of this investigation for the organization is minimal, I’m attending meetings like stand-ups, planning games, or sprint reviews which they are doing anyway. I try to talk also with some of the main stakeholders, given the short time of the whole observation this can be that we drink a cup of coffee and have a short chat about how things are going (I love coffee).

    Sometimes you need an extensive audit or assessment, to explore the oranization, draw a map of it’s way of working, and plan the changes that are needed. In other situations, a couple of hours of observation and a 1 pager can be enough to implement the changes that are needed.

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