Agile Coach Interview Questions


When conducting interview it’s especially hard to determine if someone doing the interview really knows enough to do the role they’re applying to. While it’s impossible to fully vet someone in just a quick 30 minute interview below are a few questions I ask to try to determine if they have real world experiences they can share, or if they’re going off hearsay.

I usually start asking a general overview of how they became a ___________ and what have they enjoyed/not enjoyed about that role. Their answer here can start to give you early insights into their potential to be a good culture fit, and if their goals match the goals the hiring manager is desiring.

  • How long have you been doing agile transformation?
    • If anyone says more than 7 years I begin to wonder what they consider agile transformation as most of the leaders in Atlanta have been doing it for a maximum of 4 years
    • It’s possible they’ve been in other transformation roles, it’d be interesting to hear how that compares with the level of change required to do agile transformation
  • When you start a new area what are the typical stages it goes through? How do you begin transforming a group?
    • Most transformations that actually stick have to have a mix of executive and low level team buy in. In this I’m usually looking for “train executive leaders first” and then at some point it needs to get down to the team level. If they don’t mention any interaction with executive leaders they may be more of a scrum master role than an agile coach role
  • What are your biggest challenges when working with a transformation and how have you overcome those?
    • Usually middle management is a first real hurdle to overcome, they need to see how this new paradigm will benefit them. Often the problem here is a outward focus on scrum process but not principles.
    • If the transformation goes far enough eventually devops will be likely be a primary bottleneck for most large organizations
    • They should also mention handling dependencies, this is a key challenge for most any group working together on a larger initiative.
  • Have you been a part of maturing the devops capability in an organization? If so how did that go?
    • Someone who has been through a devops maturation would talk about code branching and automated testing advancements. They also might reference a move to the cloud (AWS/Azure) and automated builds. I would expect them to mention speed to production or cycle time from concept to production.
  • What percent of your time do you spend with executive leaders, middle management and teams?
    • This will give you insight into their level of engagement and if they fit the needs for the organization. Some orgs may just need a Sr. SM and call that role and agile coach, that person needs to spend a lot of time at the team level, other orgs may want real top down transformation and need someone that can effectively engage with executive leadership.
  • How many teams do you typically coach at once? How many programs?
    • If someone is purely an agile coach I find it possible to balance 4-6 teams across 1-2 programs every 9-12 months depending on organizational maturity and alignment. Numbers wildly different would make me want to drill into more details. If an organization is very early in their transformation they may be significantly less and if they are managing other agile coaches they may be responsible for more.

Originally published here

Danny Presten

Explore more content

Improving in the moment

Seeing the opportunity
Read more

Being an Agile developer

Knowledge workers are key to Agile <
Read more

Unit and Integration Testing Overview

The two important types of testing <
Read more
Contact Us