10 Scrum Interview Questions and Answers
- April 26, 2021
- Posted by: sunaina rani
- Category: Uncategorized
Many companies use the Scrum project management method to ensure an efficient product development process. You may have an interview with a company that applies the Scrum framework and learning about related will help.
In this article, we will review Scrum interview questions and provide example answers to help you prepare for your interview.
Scrum interview questions and how to answer them
There are three categories of Scrum positions—Scrum master, product owner and Scrum team. The Scrum team could contain a variety of jobs, including software developers, quality assurance testers and designers. The following questions are some that you may encounter for any Scrum position:
- How long is a sprint?
- What is the purpose of a retrospective?
- What is the most important function of a Scrum master?
- What is zero planning?
- What’s the difference between Agile and Scrum?
- Tell me about a time you encountered an impediment during a project.
- What is the function of stand-ups?
- What is the importance of a product backlog?
- What is the most important thing for a product owner to do?
- What is a user story?
1. How long is a sprint?
In Scrum, projects usually progress in smaller timeframes called sprints. A sprint makes a longer project more manageable. You can provide an answer that describes how the length of a sprint helps a Scrum team maintain focus and successfully accomplish tasks within a reasonable amount of time. If possible, you should use specific examples of your experience with sprints.
Example: “The length of a sprint can vary, though they usually last four weeks or 30 days. A month is usually sufficient time to finish one part of a project while staying on track. At one of my previous jobs as a designer, we had one project that lasted about a year. Almost every sprint lasted four weeks. There were a couple of shorter sprints based on the work that we needed to do to move forward with the rest of the project.”
2. What is the purpose of a retrospective?
A retrospective is a key part of Scrum that occurs at the end of each sprint. A successful answer to this question will demonstrate your ability to evaluate obstacles and successes. Use this opportunity to explain how you used a retrospective to learn and grow as a team member.
If possible, use the STAR method for your answer, as well as the rest of your responses. STAR stands for:
- Situation: Describe a time where you encountered a particular challenge.
- Task: Explain your role in the situation.
- Action: Talk about the steps you took to overcome the obstacle.
- Result: Detail what happened after your action.
Using the STAR method provides a thorough response that demonstrates your ability to take action as well as your knowledge on a subject.
Example: “A retrospective helps a team review a sprint to see what each person learned. At one of my previous jobs, we had a particularly challenging sprint. As the front end developer, I encountered a bug in the program that I could not solve on my own. When I spent too much time on it, I asked my product tester to look at the code to see what I was missing. They were able to find and fix the bug relatively quickly.
During the retrospective, our Scrum master asked me to talk about any issues I had during the sprint. I explained the bug and how the tester helped me work through it. I was able to praise the tester for their hard work and talked about how important it was to ask for help when you need it. I think retrospectives help increase teamwork and help the group learn together.”
3. What is the most important function of a Scrum master?
Scrum masters guide the progress of a project and are heavily involved in planning realistic goals for their team. Even if you aren’t interviewing for a Scrum master position, your response will demonstrate your general knowledge of this method. When preparing an answer, reflect on past projects, and provide specific examples of Scrum master functions.
Example: “I believe one of the most important functions of a Scrum master is communication. As a developer, I was working on a project to create an automatic lock system for a building. During one of the retrospectives, our team was having trouble starting a discussion that reviewed our sprint.
Our Scrum master helped us facilitate the conversation by using techniques they acquired during their training. They helped us discuss impediments we encountered during the sprint and how we could avoid them in the future. Their strong communication abilities helped us learn more and apply different techniques to become more effective.”
4. What is zero planning?
Zero planning, also sometimes called “zero sprint,” is the preparation part of a project cycle. In your interview, try to explain what zero planning is and why it exists in the Scrum framework to demonstrate that you understand its important function. To provide a thorough answer, consider describing your personal experience with zero planning and how you successfully prepare for projects.
Example: “Zero planning happens at the start of a project to ensure the team meets all of the requirements listed. As a Scrum master, I have a basic outline for my zero planning sprints.
First, I review the requirements with the client and my product manager. We want to make sure we understand exactly what the client wants from the product or service. Then, I gather all of my resources, including the right team members and material needs. After that, I plan the sprints. I like to make sure my team can complete the sprint within that amount of time by outlining the basics for each week, sometimes each day.
I try to utilize my zero planning time to create a smooth project plan with a successful end result. I believe zero planning has enabled me to be an effective Scrum master.”
5. What’s the difference between Agile and Scrum?
Scrum is an Agile style of project management that focuses more on structured release times and team collaboration. Offering an answer that explains some of the key differences between the styles shows you have a thorough understanding that helps you better function in a Scrum environment. Try to offer a response that explains both similarities and differences. If you’ve worked in both Agile and Scrum frameworks, give examples.
Example: “Both Agile and Scrum are relatively flexible project management methods that help teams release a product or service in stages. They both involve client feedback to create a more satisfactory product. One of the main differences is that Scrum focuses on separating the project into manageable and consistent sprint time periods. Scrum is also a team-oriented framework, while Agile has a project manager that leads the team.
Instead of a project manager, Scrum teams have a Scrum master who makes sure their team has all of the resources they need to complete a project. They also help a Scrum team stay focused by planning the tasks they should complete during each sprint.
I’ve worked in both Agile and Scrum environments. I prefer Scrum because I can work more closely with my team, and I appreciate that each member of the team can offer their input on the best way to complete the project.”
6. Tell me about a time you encountered an impediment during a project
Impediments, or blockers, are obstacles you encounter during a project. Being able to quickly identify and resolve impediments shows interviewers that you can use critical thinking and problem-solving abilities to overcome a challenge. Your answer can illustrate any specific skills you employed to address an impediment. Use the STAR method to create a specific answer to this situational question.
Example: “There was one time when I was an integration developer working on an application programming interface. My team was able to get the program to work locally, but when we uploaded it into the production environment, we encountered an error where the data wasn’t transferred correctly. We weren’t getting the same results, so we had to review our process to see what was causing the error. We finally found that we didn’t properly configure the settings, so once we fixed that, the program worked in production.
The error caused a delay in our sprint. During the next planning period, we had to alter our tasks for the following sprint to make sure we finished everything on time. Ultimately, the program was successful, and my team created an upload checklist so we wouldn’t encounter the issue again.”
7. What is the function of stand-ups?
Stand-ups, or “daily scrums,” are short meetings that help team members plan the rest of their workday. During a stand-up, each team member explains their progress on tasks and the work they expect to complete that day. Understanding the purpose of stand-ups will reflect time-management and planning skills. When you prepare an answer, consider defining stand-ups and how you use them to schedule the rest of your day and week.
Example: “Stand-ups are daily meetings where team members explain what they’re working on so everyone knows the progress of a project. Having a daily stand-up ensures the project is on track and everyone completes tasks as planned. It allows for more thorough communication among the team. At my last job, the team used stand-ups to share what we planned to do during the day and asked for help on specific tasks. That way, we knew we would finish all of the assignments within each sprint.”
8. What is the importance of a product backlog?
A product backlog is a collection of tasks that help plan for and complete goals. Your response should demonstrate your critical thinking skills and your ability to define goals and steps clearly. Craft an answer that explains what you believe is most important about product backlogs. Try to give a specific example of how you planned and used a backlog to work through a project successfully.
Example: “Product backlogs are a huge part of creating even sprints. They help teams make sure they develop sprint plans that aren’t too short or long, and they can help a team stay focused.
At my last job, my team began a project to create an asset management program. In zero planning, my team met to create a list of goals. We separated each goal and planned each one by developing a collection of tasks we needed to do to complete it. When we looked at each task, we gave it points based on its complexity. The more complex the task, the more points we gave it. We then put the tasks in the product backlog.
As we worked through the steps, we marked each one as ‘in progress’ or ‘complete’ to measure the progress. At about the middle of each sprint, we had another meeting to review the backlog. During one of the sprints, we encountered an issue where we lost our direction. We couldn’t figure out what we needed to do next to keep the project moving. After looking at the product backlog, we were able to plan the rest of our week, which helped us refocus and get back on track.”
9. What is the most important thing for a product owner to do?
Product owners are responsible for ensuring the success of the good or service a project produces. Regardless of whether you’re interviewing for a product owner position, explaining the key functions of the role shows you thoroughly understand Scrum. Your answer can be anything you believe is most important for a product manager to do, as long as you can explain your reasoning.
Example: “It is important for a product owner to stay flexible and track the team’s progress.
At one of my previous positions as a tester, I worked with my team during zero planning to develop a strategy to create a keycard identification system. As I was testing one of the software functions, I found an issue where the specifications didn’t have an administrator on the client’s side, meaning our company would have to add and delete keycard users at the customer’s request, which could be nearly 100 times per week. Each request could take up to 10 minutes to verify, which would have caused a time issue within our company.
Instead of following the project as we originally defined it, the product owner contacted the client to explain the situation. They suggested to the customer that they should include two administrators so they could process requests faster. We would have to add a two-week sprint to add the administrators, but the client agreed. The client was ultimately satisfied, and both sides saved a lot of time in the long-term because our product owner was flexible.”
10. What is a user story?
A user story creates a thorough understanding of the client’s needs. Developing an effective user story is one of the most important functions in completing a successful project because it can accurately describe the goal of a product or service. Use a specific example of a time you helped devise a user story and the result.
Example: “A user story is a statement that helps define the project. In my first front-end developer position, my Scrum master explained a user story in three basic elements—role, goal and benefit, or RGB. We had a project where a client wanted us to help them create their client-facing portal to sell imported gourmet food. During zero planning, we developed the user story based on RGB, which was ‘I am an imported goods seller who wants to build a customer website to increase sales.’
Whenever my team felt like we were losing focus, we could look at the user story and remember our purpose. It helped us keep the project terms simple and complete tasks on time.”