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Scrum Master Interview Questions

by StarAgile

June 19, 2018
Category Agile and Scrum


StarAgile has gathered Scrum Master interview questions  to give certified professionals an idea on type of questions which may be asked during interview. After Scrum Master Certification most of the professional will update their profiles and plan to attend Scrum master interviews these questions will be useful specially for these professionals.

These questions are prepared by industry experts from StarAgile who trains on CSM certification.

1. How does agile testing (development) methodology differ from another testing (development) methodologies?

The testers (developers) ensure that the whole process of testing (development) is broken into 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 agile testing. Agile methodology encourages flexible and rapid response to change, which should lead to better end results.

2. How is scrum different from waterfall?

The major differences are:

  • The feedback from the customer is received at an early stage in Scrum than waterfall, where the feedback from the customer is received towards the end of development cycle.
  • To accommodate the new or changed requirement in the scrum is easier than waterfall.
  • Scrum focuses on collaborative development than waterfall where the entire development cycle is divided into phases.
  • At any point in time, we can roll back the changes in scrum than in waterfall.
  • A test is considered as a phase in a waterfall, unlike scrum.

3. How is scrum different from the Iterative model?

Scrum is a type of iterative model only but it is iterative + incremental.

4. Do you know any other agile methodology apart from Scrum?

Other Agile methodologies include – Kanban, XP, Lean

5. What are the ceremonies you perform in a scrum?

There are 3 major ceremonies performed in Scrum:

Planning Meeting – Where the entire scrum teams along with the scrum master and product owner meet 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.

Review Meeting – Where the scrum team demonstrates their work done to the stakeholders

Retrospective meeting – Where the scrum teams along with the scrum master and product owner meet and retrospect the last sprint they worked on. They majorly discuss 3 things:

What went well?

What could be done better?

Action Items

Apart from these three ceremonies, we have one more called “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.

6. Do you know the Three Amigos in Scrum?

The three Amigos are –

  • Product Owner
  • Scrum Master
  • Scrum Team.

7. What do you think should be the ideal size of a Scrum team?

The ideal size is 7 to9 with +/- 2

8. What do daily stand up meetings entail?

Each day, at the same time and same place (in front of the task board), the team meets to give 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?

9. What is the “time Boxing” of a scrum process called?

It’s called “Sprint”

10. What is a Release candidate?

A Release candidate is a build or version of the software that can be released to production. Further, testing such as UAT may be performed on this version of the product.

Certified Scrum Master

11. What are the most important components of Agile?

The key feature of agile are:

  • Daily stand-up meetings.
  • CRC (Class Responsibilities and Collaborators) cards timeboxed task boards.
  • TDD (Test Driven Development), Continuous Integration, regular code reviews, pair programming, automated builds, continuous deployment, and delivery, etc.
  • You have iteration planning meetings and carry out iterative development.

12. What are project management tools used in agile?

Agile has a new breed of PM tools including Rally Software, Version One and XPlanner, EasyBacklog, iceScrum, Agilefant, Agilo. These tools bear no resemblance to the waterfall PM tools like MS-Project or Clarity.

13. How can study Board be defined in agile?

A Story Board is a visual representation of a software project’s progress. There are generally four columns ‘To do’, In Progress’, ‘Test’, and ‘Done’. Different coloured post, its notes are placed in each column indicating the progress of individual development items. A storyboard is typically used in agile development.

14. How much time should a person expect to spend on ScrumMaster activities?

A ScrumMaster should make this role their top priority to focus on benefits of the overall team. Their load will vary from sprint to sprint depending on what impediments and issues the team are dealing with. Newly formed teams typically take more ScrumMaster time; 50%-100%, while experienced Scrum Masters with established well-functioning teams might spend 50% or less time on the ScrumMaster role.

15. Why is the Scrum development less risky than waterfall method?

In Scrum, the focus is on delivering fully-tested, independent, valuable, small features. Thus, the risk is diversified and if one feature goes wrong, it should not impact another feature.

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16. What should be an ideal duration of a sprint?

It is recommended to have 2 – 4 weeks of sprint cycle.

17. How are requirements defined in a scrum?

Requirements are termed as “User Stories” in Scrum.

18. Name two techniques for prioritizing user stories?

  • MoSCoW
  • 100 Point Method.

19. What is Scrum Sprint?

A Scrum Sprint is a regular, repeated work cycle in scrum methodology during which work is completed and made ready for review. Scrum sprints are basic units of development in the scrum methodology. Generally, scrum sprints are less than 30 days long.

Sprints contain and consist of the Sprint Planning, Daily Scrums, the development work, the Sprint Review, and the Sprint Retrospective.

During the Sprint:

No changes are made that would endanger the Sprint Goal.

Quality goals do not decrease, and the scope may be clarified and re-negotiated between the Product Owner and Development Team as more is learned.

20. What is the difference between Epic, User stories & Tasks?

Epic is a group of related user stories.

User Stories define the actual business requirement. Generally created by the business owner.

Task: To accomplish the business requirements, development team create tasks.

21. How is the velocity of sprint measured?

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.

22. How do you define a user story?

The user stories are defined in the format of

As a <User / type of user>

I want to <action / feature to implement>

So that < objective>

23. What are the roles of a Scrum Master and Product owner?

Scrum Master – Acts as a servant Leader for the scrum team. He presides over all the scrum ceremonies and coaches the team to understand and implement scrum values and principals.

Product Owner – Is the Point of contact for a scrum team. He/she is the one who works closest to the business. The main responsibility of a product owner is to identify and refine the product backlog items.

24. Explain what is a product backlog in Scrum?

Before the scrum sprint initiates, 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 the item is referred to as Product Backlog. The items that are kept on sprint are referred to as Sprint Backlog.

25. Explain Velocity in Agile?

Velocity is a metric that is calculated by addition of all efforts estimates associated with user stories completed in one iteration. It predicts how much work Agile can complete in a sprint and how much time will it require to complete a project.

26. How can tracer bullet be used?

Tracer bullet can be used as a spike with the current architecture or the current set of best practices. The purpose of a tracer bullet is to examine how an end-to-end process will work and examine feasibility.

  • Tracer ammunition, which is a part of bullet built with a small pyrotechnic charge in their base
  • It is a fictional detective, alter ego of Calvin in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes
  • It is used in Scrum (software development) to describe a proof-of-concept deliverable
  • Pathfinder (library science) – a term for those pathfinders produced by the Library of Congress.

27. How can QA add value to an agile team?

QA can provide value addition by thinking differently about the various scenarios to test a story. They can provide quick feedback to the developers whether new functionality is working fine or not.

QA is not a separate silo but is part of a cross-functional project team. It is included in the project from the beginning, and the whole team works together on user stories using the same tracking tools. The Director of the QA team works closely with the executive management team to identify technology and staffing needs in relation to project pipelines.

Quality Assurance is empowered to support projects and add value in whatever way the situation requires. Examples include design reviews, requirements assessments, browser and device support, process, tools, risk assessments, and helping to determine “Definition of Ready” and “Definition of Done.”

QA sits with the project team whenever possible, allowing for increased conversation and problem-solving in real time. The QA team attends and contributes to all relevant planning meetings and sprint ceremonies and also work directly with clients on quality and testing processes.

Members of QA teams always learn as individuals, as project team members, and as representatives of a skilled discipline within the organization. Our process and approach to testing evolve to keep up with advances in technology and the changing needs of clients. What works for one client or project might differ radically from another. Flexibility is the key.

28. What does a scrum burndown chart comprise?

A scrum burndown chart should consist of:

X-axis that displays working days

Y-axis that displays remaining effort

Ideal effort as a guideline

Real progress of effort.

29. What are the artifacts of Scrum process?

Scrum process artifacts include:

Sprint backlog – The Sprint Backlog 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.

Product backlog – The Product Backlog is an ordered list of everything that might be needed in the product and is 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.

Velocity chart– 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.

Burn-down chart – It is a chart that 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 we deliver on each iteration.

30. Does maximum velocity mean maximum productivity?

No, in an attempt to maximize velocity, a team may, in fact, achieve the opposite. If asked to maximize velocity, a team may skimp on the unit or acceptance testing, reduce customer collaboration, skip fixing bugs, minimize re-factoring. While potentially offering short-term improvement (if you can call it that), there will be a negative long-term impact. The goal is not to maximize velocity instead of the optimal velocity over time, which takes into account many factors including quality of the end product.

31. How to measure velocity if our iteration lengths change?

You can’t measure it easily. Velocity’s value comes from its inherent consistency. A fixed iteration length helps drive the reliable rhythm of a project. Without this rhythm, you are constantly revising, re-estimating, and reconciling, and the ability to predict out in the future is minimized due to inconsistent results.

If, on the other hand, almost everyone is going to be out a week for the holidays or a couple days for company-wide meetings then, by all means, adapt iteration dates or velocity accordingly. Like most agile practices, these are guidelines, not strict rules.

32. What do you know about impediments in Scrum? Give some examples of impediments.

Impediments are the obstacles or issues faced by scrum team which slow down their speed of work. If something is trying to block the scrum team from their getting work “Done” then it is an impediment. Impediments can come in any form. Some of the impediments are given as –

  • Resource missing or sick team member
  • Technical, operational, organizational problems
  • Lack of management supportive system
  • Business problems
  • External issues such as weather, war etc
  • Lack of skill or knowledge
  • While answering impediments related agile scrum interview questions remember that you may be asked the way to remove any of the mentioned impediment.

33. What is the difference and similarity between Agile and Scrum?

Difference between Agile and Scrum – Agile is a broad spectrum, it is a methodology used for project management while Scrum is just a form of the Agile that describes the process and its steps more concisely. Agile is a practice whereas scrum is a procedure to pursue this practice.

The similarity between Agile and Scrum – The Agile involves completing projects in steps or incrementally. The Agile methodology is considered to be iterative in nature. Being a form of Agile, Scrum is same as that of the Agile. It is also incremental and iterative.

34. What is increment? Explain.

This is one of the commonly asked agile scrum interview questions and a quick answer can be given this way. An increment is the total of all the product backlogs items completed during a sprint. Each increment includes all the previous sprint increment values as it is cumulative. It must be in the available mode in the subsequent release as it is a step to reach your goal.

35. What is “build-breaker”?

The build-breaker is a situation that arises when there is a bug in the software. Due to this sudden unexpected bug, compilation process stops or execution fails or a warning is generated. The responsibility of the tester is then to get the software back to the normal working stage removing the bug.

36. What do you know about Scrum ban?

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

37. State some of the Agile quality strategies.

Some of the Agile quality strategies are –

  • Iteration
  • Re-factoring
  • Dynamic code analysis
  • Short feedback cycles
  • Reviews and inspection
  • Standards and guidelines
  • Milestone reviews.

38. Do you know about Agile Manifesto & its Principles? Explain in brief.

This is the theory which most of agile/scrum roles aspirant should be on tips. Four manifesto values and 12 principles should be explained as much as possible as part of this question. Even if it’s not explained in 100% accurate manner it should be fine but intentions of values and principles should come out.

e.g.:

Working Software should be demonstrated at regular intervals

Individuals & interaction – self-organization, self-motivating should be encouraged

Customer collaboration

Welcoming change at any point in time in the project.

39. Is there any drawback of the Agile model? If yes, explain.

Yes, there are some drawbacks of the Agile model, some of them are as follows –

  • It is not easy to make a prediction about the effort required to complete a task. It becomes more problematic in case of large projects as it becomes difficult to get an idea of the total effort required.
  • At sometimes, it’s not possible to properly focus on the design and documentation of the project
  • In case the requirements of the client are not understood properly, the final project will not meet the customer requirements. Thus, it will lead to the customer dissatisfaction.
  • Only the leader who has considerable experience in Agile methodologies is capable to take important decisions. The team members with little or no experience are not involved in decision-making, thus they don’t get chance to advance their knowledge.
  • It’s not always the case that you will be asked the questions about the characteristics and advantages of the agile and scrum in an agile scrum interview. So, just prepare yourself for the drawbacks and disadvantages related to agile scrum interview questions.

40. What is the use of burn-up and burn-down charts?

The burn-up chart illustrates the amount of completed work in a project whereas the burn-down chart depicts the amount of work remained to complete a project. Thus, the burn-up and burn-down charts are used to trace the progress of a project. 

41. Define Zero Sprint and Spike in Agile.

To answer this question, describe Zero Sprint and Agile in detail, as follows –

 Zero sprint – Zero Sprint can be defined as the preparation step of the first sprint in Agile. There are some activities that are required to be done before actually starting the project. These activities are considered as the Zero sprint; the examples of such activities are – setting the environment for development, preparation of backlogs etc.

Spike – Spike is the type of story that can be taken between the sprints. Spikes are commonly used for the activities related to the design or technical issues such as research, design, prototyping, and exploration. There are two types of spikes – functional spikes and technical spikes.