So, you got the call for a Scrum Master interview. That’s great news! Now it’s time to prepare. Many of the strategies discussed in this article can be applied to any professional job interview; however, I will emphasize some points that pertain specifically to a Scrum Master position.
Adequate preparation for any job interview, at a minimum, requires you to complete the following:
- Research the company.
- Understand the job description.
- Develop relevant questions to ask your interviewer.
- Outline your projects and accomplishments that relate to the specific job position.
Research the Company
Part of your research is to learn basic information about the company, mission, and product or service provided. The corporate website can certainly help you with this basic part of your research. You can learn a lot about a company by just looking at the structure, content and flow of their website. Does the website have accurate, well-written and grammatically correct information? If not, that may indicate internal issues with their organizational structure.
To take your research a bit further, try to find out how they currently implement Agile and Scrum. Conduct your research through social media, press releases, LinkedIn, etc. Try to talk to or connect with others who work at the company. You can also look at company reviews on Glassdoor or Indeed; however, always be cautious with reading reviews. Reviews provide you with a piece of your research but should not be your only research.
Finally, know your audience and format for the interview. Hopefully, you have been provided with the names and titles of the people who will be interviewing you. If not, ask for that information. It will help you target your research toward a specific area or team within the company.
Understand the Job Description
When you’re preparing for a job interview, it is critical to read and UNDERSTAND the job description. One thing about technical job descriptions is that there is often conflicting information, jargon, or a laundry list of boilerplate requirements that may have nothing to do with the job. A poorly written job description can be a red flag for a job so be sure to do your homework to make sure that you understand what is expected.
For example, if the Scrum Master job description lists key responsibilities as “Track project tasks” or “Manage development team,” those are not Scrum Master responsibilities. You want to see descriptors like, “Supporting and coaching the team on Scrum practices,” or “Guide and empower the team.” The interview is your opportunity to root out potential conflicts in what you are expecting vs. what the company is expecting.
Many of the questions that you initially develop will likely come from your research and your review of the job description. Do not ask questions for the sake of asking questions or just to impress your interviewer. Be sure that the questions you ask are important to you in the decision-making process. Remember, you are vetting the employer just like they are vetting you.
Outline Projects and Accomplishments
For a Scrum Master position, your interview will likely be a behavior-based interview. Behavior-based interviewing is all about asking open-ended questions. The questions are formatted in a way to glean your ability to articulate your accomplishments in a detailed and clear way. This can be unnerving for the interviewee so your preparation will go a long way in calming your nerves.
When preparing for behavior-based interview, remember STAR – Situation, Task, Action, Result. As you outline your past projects and accomplishments, document the situation, tasks, actions, and results for each one with clear details. Focus on projects that emphasize your coaching and facilitation experience. The act of reflecting and writing these down ahead of time helps to refresh your memory and organize your thoughts. After all, Scrum is about organizing work, right? You want to articulate your thoughts in an organized way when you are answering questions. And, it goes without saying, be sure that you know your Scrum and Agile principles inside and out.
For a Scrum Master position, you may encounter these types of questions:
- “Tell me about a team project that you worked on.”
- “Describe a time that you worked on a successful team. What made it a successful experience?”
- “Describe your coaching style.”
It’s important not to skip this step. It may feel awkward to rehearse but it’s better to feel awkward during prep than during the actual interview. Find some peers, friends or family members that will provide you with honest feedback. And, finally, don’t wait until the last minute. You want allow time for multiple rehearsals to give yourself the opportunity to refine your answers.
Thorough preparation will go a long way in helping you feel comfortable and confident. Good luck with your interview!
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