Hiring: 38+9 Scrum Master Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters

Scrum Master Hiring: Demand Creates Supply and the Job Market for Agile Practitioners is No Exception

Maybe, “Agile” in general is a management fad and not trend at the moment. But what we can say for sure is that Scrum has become very popular for software development purposes. A seasoned Scrum master is nowadays in high demand. And that demand causes the market-entry of new professionals from other project management branches, probably believing that reading one or two Scrum books will be sufficient.

If you are looking to fill a position for a Scrum master (or agile coach) in your organization, you may find the following 38+9 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my ten years of practical experience with XP as well as Scrum, serving both as Product owner and Scrum master as well as interviewing dozens of Scrum master candidates on behalf of my clients.

38+9 Scrum Master Interview Questions, Fourth Edition 2018

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Webinar #5: Sprint Planning Anti-Patterns

TL;DR: Webinar Sprint Planning Anti-Patterns

Webinar Sprint Planning: The purpose of Scrum’s sprint planning is to align the development team and the product owner. Both need to agree on the shippable product increment of the next sprint. The idea is that the development team’s forecast reflects the product owner’s sprint goal. Also, the team needs to come up with a plan on how to accomplish its forecast.

Easier said than done, it appears. Therefore, the fifth Hands-on Agile webinar addresses common sprint planning anti-patterns. Learn how to keep a simple scrum ceremony useful by avoiding typical mistakes, from pushy POs, toying with the definition of ready to obstructing the future flow by pushing utilization to 110%.

Webinar Sprint Planning Anti-Patterns — June 5th, 2018

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Webinar #6: Product Owner Anti-Patterns

TL;DR: Webinar Product Owner Anti-Patterns — June 19th, 2018

The sixth Hands-on Agile webinar product owner anti-patterns addresses 12 ways to improve a product owner’s skill set. Learn also when you — as the scrum master or scrum team — should reach out to your product owner and offer support.

Hands-on Agile Webinar Product Owner Anti-Patterns — June 19th, 2018

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Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns

TL; DR: Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns

Learn how individual incentives and outdated organizational structures — fostering personal agendas and local optimization efforts — manifest themselves in scrum stakeholder anti-patterns which easily can impede any agile transition.

Scrum Stakeholder Anti-Patterns by Age-of-Product-1650

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Agile Failure Patterns in Organizations 2.0

TL;DR: Agile Failure Patterns — Why Agile is Simple and Complex at the Same Time

Agile failure seems to be increasingly more prominent nowadays despite all the efforts undertaken by numerous organization embarking on their journeys to become agile.

The funny thing is: Who would disagree that the four core principles of the Agile Manifesto

  1. Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  2. Working software over comprehensive documentation
  3. Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  4. Responding to change over following a plan

— are derived from applying common sense to a challenging problem? Moreover, that the application of those principles might be suited to fix numerous organizational dysfunctions and reduce an error-prone and complex social setting to maybe just a complicated one?

Age of Product: Agile Failure Patterns in Organizations

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Reverse Retrospective — Aligning Scrum Team and Scrum Master

TL;DR: The Reverse Retrospective

Are you—as a scrum master or agile coach—experiencing more communication kerfuffles with “your” team? Is its speed of improvement stalling? Are you under the impression that the team is slipping back into old habits and patterns? Maybe, it is time to run a reverse retrospective where your share your observations with the team.

Learn how to run a reverse retrospective to realign with your scrum team.

Reverse Retrospective — Aligning Scrum Team and Scrum Master

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Scrum Master Anti-Patterns — 20 Signs Your Scrum Master Needs Help

TL;DR: Scrum Master Anti-Patterns

Scrum Master Anti-Patterns: The reasons why scrum masters violate the spirit of the Scrum Guide are multi-faceted. They run from ill-suited personal traits and the pursuit of individual agendas to frustration with the team itself.

Read on and learn in this final post on scrum anti-patterns how you can identify if your scrum master needs support from the team to up his or her agile game.

Scrum Master Anti-Patterns — 20 Signs Your Scrum Master Needs Help — Age of Product

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The Scrum Product Owner Theses

TL;DR: The Scrum Product Owner in 56 Theses

The following 56 scrum product owner theses describe the role of the PO from a holistic product creation perspective.

The 56 product owner theses cover the concept of the product owner role, product discovery, how to deal with external and internal stakeholders, product roadmap planning, as well as the product backlog refinement. The theses also address the product owner’s part in scrum ceremonies such as sprint planning, sprint review, and the sprint retrospective.

Product Owner Theses: Scrum from Product Discovery to Product Delivery

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28 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns

TL;DR: 28 Product Backlog and Refinement Anti-Patterns

Scrum is a practical framework to build products, provided you identify in advance what to build. But even after a successful product discovery phase, you may struggle to make the right thing in the right way if your product backlog is not up to the job. Garbage in, garbage out – as the saying goes. The following article points at 28 of the most common product backlog anti-patterns – including the product backlog refinement process – that limit your Scrum team’s success.

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Hiring: 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Agile Imposters

TL;DR: 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions That Will Benefit Your Organization

This second publication in the Hands-on Agile Fieldnotes series provides 42 questions and answers for the Scrum Product Owner interview.

Image from age-of-product.com

Co-authored with Andreea Tomoiaga, 42 Scrum Product Owner Interview Questions to Avoid Hiring Agile Imposters represents the most important learnings of our more than 20 years combined hands-on experience with Kanban, Scrum, XP, and several product discovery frameworks. We have worked as Scrum Product Owners, Scrum Masters, agile coaches, and developers in agile teams and organizations of all sizes and levels of maturity.

We have each participated in interviewing dozens of Scrum Product Owner candidates on behalf of our clients or employers. The questions and answers herein are what we have learned.

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Agile Metrics — The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

TL;DR: Agile Metrics

Suitable agile metrics reflect either a team’s progress in becoming agile or your organization’s progress in becoming a learning organization.

At the team level, qualitative agile metrics typically work better than quantitative metrics. At the organizational level, this is reversed: quantitative agile metrics provide better insights than qualitative ones.

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Food for Agile Thought #146: Finding Agile Metrics, Product Bets, Business Agility, Bad Pressure

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #146—shared with 17,791 peers—addresses finding agile metrics, how to play the product game safe and lose, and why BDD is an integral part of business agility.

We also ask yourselves: Should an agile coach rather be an organizational psychotherapist? Or what are you doing all day if you’re supporting a single team as a scrum master?

Lastly, our gut feeling is confirmed that innovation does not happen under pressure as well as that ‘saying yes’ is not scaling technique to build successful products. (Fortunately, there are also six ways how to accomplish growth without trying to be everybody’s darling.)

Have a great week!

Food for Agile Thought #146: Finding Agile Metrics, Product Bets, Business Agility, Bad Pressure

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Food for Agile Thought #145: Make Agile Work, Graphic Facilitation, Managing HIPPOs

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #145—shared with 17,732 peers—addresses how to make agile work for you, how graphics can massively improve your facilitation skills, and how you can identify friends and foes with an organizational design analysis.

We also get a better understanding of Kanban Cadences, how to sell and prioritize non-feature work such as refactoring, and why merely shipping code does not mean you understand the philosophy of Kaizen.

Lastly, learn new tips and trick on how to deal with HIPPOs and their pet projects in your organization.

Have a great week!

Food for Agile Thought #145: Make Agile Work, Graphic Facilitation, Managing HIPPOs

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Create Whiteboards for Transparency and Collaboration

TL; DR - How to Create Whiteboards

Learn how to create whiteboards: Whiteboards are magic as they support foundational agile principles such as interaction, collaboration, face-to-face communication, or transparency. They facilitate adapting to change, continuous improvement, and the self-organization of team. You can create meaningful software with a few index cards, pins, pencils, and a drywall—you do not need Jira or any other agile process tools.

Create Whiteboards for Transparency and Collaboration

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Food for Agile Thought #144: Internet Trends 2018, Iceberg of Ignorance, Misunderstanding Kanban, Amazon Prime

Food for Agile Thought’s issue #144—shared with 17,591 peers—covers Mary Meeker’s epic report on Internet trends 2018, the background on why and how Amazon figured out the benefits of Amazon Prime, and why smart organizations leave the decision making to those closest to a problem.

We also appreciate Setapp’s detailed process to run product-/market fit analyses, and we learn why improving flow is the Swiss Army knife to solving all kind of issues.

Lastly, Leon Tranter makes a compelling pitch to dare more Kanban, and yes, running experiments will reduce output — if you ignore flow basics in the process.

Have a great week!

Food for Agile Thought #144: Internet Trends 2018, Iceberg of Ignorance, Misunderstanding Kanban, Amazone Prime

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