Free Ebook: 54 Scrum Master Interview Questions to Identify Suitable Candidates

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

Scrum has proven time and again to be the most popular framework for software development. Given that software is eating the world, 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. Which makes any Scrum Master interview a challenging task.

If you are looking to fill a position for a Scrum Master (or agile coach) in your organization, you may find the following 54 interview questions useful to identify the right candidate. They are derived from my fifteen 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.

So far, this Scrum Master interview guide has been downloaded more than 22,000 times.

54 Scrum Master Interview Questions to Identify Suitable Candidates — Age-of-Product.com
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Join the Scrum Master Salary Report 2022 — Let Us Create Transparency

TL;DR: Scrum Master Salary Report 2022 — An Anonymous Poll by the Community for the Community

The purpose of this anonymous Scrum Master salary report is to create a clear, data-backed benchmark that allows everyone in the agile community to understand whether their compensation is adequate. (And yes, the report will cover Scrum Masters as well as Agile Coaches, both employed and freelancing.)

The goal is to have a sufficient number of replies – that would be at least 1,000 – by the end of November 2021 to create the report in time for January 2022. Of course, the report will be available for free.

Join the Anonymous Poll for the Upcoming Free Scrum Master Salary Report 2022 — Age-of-Product.com
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Do We Need Agile Coaches when Practicing Scrum?

TL; DR: Agile Coaches vs. Scrum Masters

Do We Need Agile Coaches when Practicing Scrum? Don’t get me wrong; my LinkedIn profile states “Professional Scrum Trainer, Agile Coach, and Scrum Master,” as ‘agile coach’ is an important search term. (Many seem to confuse agile coach with Scrum Master or believe both terms can be used interchangeably. However, that should not be a reason to reduce your chances of meeting a new employer or client.)

I like to point at a scheme, though, that I have encountered several times in the past, particularly in organizations, where the people folks still believe in orchestrated career paths: The Scrum Master is a role at the team level, while the agile coach is dealing with organizational issues.

I do believe that this construct is flawed: When practicing Scrum correctly, Scrum Masters are all you ever need.

Do We Need Agile Coaches when Practicing Scrum? — Age-of-Product.com

🗳 Update: Join the poll and its lively discussion on agile coaches vs. Scrum Masters.

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Join the Anonymous Poll for the Upcoming Free Scrum Master Salary Report 2022 — Age-of-Product.com

📈 Join the Anonymous Poll for the Upcoming Free Scrum Master Salary Report 2022.

You can download the Scrum Master Salary Report 2019 here.

The Scrum Master Accountabilities According to the Scrum Guide

Scrum Guide 2020 reserves a lot of attention to the role of the Scrum Master; for example, including ways to support the organization in practicing Scrum:

  • Page 7: The Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including leading, training, and coaching the organization in its Scrum adoption.
  • Page 7: The Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including planning and advising Scrum implementations within the organization.
  • Page 7: The Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including helping employees and stakeholders understand and enact an empirical approach for complex work.
  • Page 7: The Scrum Master serves the organization in several ways, including removing barriers between stakeholders and Scrum Teams.

Source: Scrum Guide 2020. (The aggregation is taken from the Scrum Guide 2020 Reordered.)

How Scrum Masters Allocated Their Time when Working with Scrum Teams

It is a fallacy to believe that the Scrum Masters’ accountabilities revolve around the Scrum team. If we were to limit their role to the Scrum team level, all we would accomplish is creating tiny islands of limited agility in an otherwise non-agile environment. (Consequently, these half-hearted approaches of agile transformations result in statements like: ‘We tried Scrum, and it did not work.’)

The fact is that Scrum Masters, when a Scrum team becomes more fluent in Scrum, allocate more time to working with the organization. Let’s take Dominik Maximini’s pyramid to visualize the work of a Scrum Master with a newly formed team and add a timeline. We can then imagine working with an experienced Scrum team by turning the original time allocation pyramid upside down. Now, Scrum Masters dedicate more time to support the organization in fine-tuning adjacent and organizational processes to meet the needs of embracing business agility.

Do We Need Agile Coaches when Practicing Scrum? — Age-of-Product.com

Source: Dominik Maximini. (The site lacks SSL encryption; hence I am not linking to it directly.)

If this is a plausible scenario, why would you then seek to limit the work of Scrum Masters to the Scrum team level and engage agile coaches to do the work at the organizational level? Wouldn’t it be advisable to task people with that kind of job who have a thorough understanding of the challenges Scrum teams face in daily operations? Again, what is the benefit of creating a chasm here?

The only argument I have encountered so far is a perceived career path that starts with the Scrum Master role, and if you prove worthy, you are promoted to the next level—working with management and organization—represented by the ‘agile coach.’ (Some may say that Scrum Masters often lack a proper coaching education. However, in my experience, this is also true for many ‘agile coaches.’)


The Agile Community Needs You: Join the Scrum Master Salary Report 2022

The purpose of this anonymous survey is to create a clear, data-backed benchmark that allows everyone in the agile community to understand whether their compensation is adequate. (And yes, the report will cover Scrum Masters as well as Agile Coaches, both employed and freelancing.)

The goal is to have a sufficient number of replies – that would be at least 1,000 – by the end of November 2021 to create the report in time for January 2022. Of course, the report will be available for free.

Join the Anonymous Poll for the Upcoming Free Scrum Master Salary Report 2022 — Age-of-Product.com

📈 Join the Anonymous Poll for the Upcoming Free Scrum Master Salary Report 2022.


Conclusion: Do We Need Agile Coaches when Practicing Scrum?

I do believe that the construct of employing agile coaches for work at the organizational level while limiting Scrum Masters to operational tasks at the Scrum team level is flawed: When practicing Scrum correctly, Scrum Masters are all you ever need.

Is your organization employing agile coaches as well as Scrum Masters? If so, please share your learnings with us in the comments.

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Join the Hands-on Agile Slack Group, Learn more about the Developers Code Fallacy

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📖 Agile Coaches vs. Scrum Masters — Related Posts

Scrum Master Salary Report 2019

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📅 Join Our Scrum Training Classes, Workshops, and Events to Improve your Skills

DateClass and LanguageCityPrice
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 October 19-22, 2021GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM I; English; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 October 26, 2021GUARANTEED: Hands-on Agile #36: Real Cross-functional Teams w/ Jutta Eckstein & Maryse Meinen (English)Live Virtual MeetupFREE
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 October 26-29, 2021GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; English; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇩🇪 November 2-5, 2021GUARANTEED: Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; German; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 November 9-12, 2021GUARANTEED: Advanced Professional Scrum Master Online Training (PSM II; English; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇩🇪 November 15-16, 2021Professional Agile Leadership Essentials Training (PAL-E; German; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇩🇪 November 23-26, 2021Advanced Professional Scrum Master Online Training (PSM II; German; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 💯 🇬🇧 November 30, 2021GUARANTEED: Hands-on Agile #37: Agile Metrics Survey 2021—Alexander Bergmann & Stefan Wolpers (English)Live Virtual MeetupFREE
🖥 🇩🇪 Nov 30 — Dec 3, 2021Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM I; German; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇬🇧 December 15-16, 2021Professional Scrum Master Training (PSM I; English; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.299 incl. 19% VAT
🖥 🇩🇪 December 20-21, 2021Professional Scrum Product Owner Training (PSPO I; German; Live Virtual Class)Live Virtual Class €1.199 incl. 19% VAT

See all upcoming classes here.

Professional Scrum Training by PST Stefan Wolpers, Berlin  Product People

You can book your seat for the training directly by following the corresponding links to the ticket shop. If the procurement process of your organization requires a different purchasing process, please contact Berlin Product People GmbH directly.

If you like to learn more about how to avoid skipping Retrospectives, consider attending Stefan’s Professional Scrum Master classes.

Peer Recruiting: How to Hire a Scrum Master in Agile Times

TL; DR: Peer Recruiting

Peer Recruiting is the new hiring: Shortly, all creative, technology-based organizations will need to abandon the command & control structures that served the industrial world of the 20th century so well. Instead, they will reorganize themselves around autonomous teams to deal with the complexity and pace of innovation of the 21st century.

In such an agile world, recruiting will become a team decision, and the “human resources” department’s role will change into a supportive one. Recruiters will need to become servant leaders or facilitators, guiding the peer recruiting process.

The following guide to peer recruiting is based on my experience in participating in recruiting Scrum Team members over the last ten years. This first article will cover the Scrum Master role.

Peer Recruiting: How to Hire a Scrum Master in Agile Times — Age-of-Product.com
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Scrum Master Trends Report 2019 — Prepare for Your Next Career Step

TL; DR: Scrum Master Trends Report 2019

Back in 2017, we started the Scrum Master Salary Report 2017—the first industry report that covered in-depth the educational background, working experience, industries, and organizational details of the companies Scrum Masters or agile coaches work for. In 2019, we partnered with Scrum.org—to create the 2019 edition. Moreover, we plan to continue the collaboration in 2021 with the next edition.

If you have to make a career decision early next year, you will find the industry data the Scrum Master Trends Report 2019 contains still very helpful.

Download the Scrum Master Trends Report 2019 by Scrum.org and Age-of-Product.com
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Scrum Master Career 2020 — Using Ecocycle Planning to Identify Opportunities

TL; DR: Scrum Master Career 2020

Last week, about 30 members of the Hands-on Agile community in Berlin came together to identify opportunities for personal and professional growth for the coming year, using Liberating Structures’ Ecocycle Planning in the process, to further your Scrum Master career 2020.

Read on and learn in this post what opportunities you have to advance your career as a Scrum Master or agile coach in the next year.

Scrum Master Career 2020 — Using Ecocycle Planning to Identify Opportunities
Continue reading Scrum Master Career 2020 — Using Ecocycle Planning to Identify Opportunities