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Scrum is a powerful framework for implementing agile processes in software development and other iterative projects. From a business point of view, one of the most vital roles of any Scrum team is the Product Owner (PO). Although Product Owner is often considered the most difficult role in Scrum, becoming a Certified Scrum Product Owner (CSPO) is a relatively easy task. Are you planning to make a career as a product owner? Go through this article on top 50 product owner interview questions that would help you get a step closer to your dream of becoming a product owner.
Given the growth in the fame of the Scrum Framework, it should come as no surprise that this growth is also fueling an unprecedented demand for Scrum Certification Training. Let’s begin by taking a look at the most frequently asked questions in Product Owner Interview Questions.
For better understanding, I have divided the rest of the Scrum Master Interview Questions into the following sections:
The questions under this category are all core technical questions based on Agile, Scrum Framework, and Product Owner related. By asking these questions you are being tested on the subject knowledge and technical expertise in the field.
This section of Product Owner Interview Questions will cover all those basic questions that you might come across when attending a scrum job interview.
Agile is a set of methods and practices based on the values and principles expressed in the Agile Manifesto. Scrum is an Agile framework for handling roles, events, artifacts, and rules/guidelines to implement the Agile Mindset. The table below lists the key differences between Scrum & Agile.
|Nature & Scope||Agile is a mentality and a set of principles||Scrum is a framework that implements agile principles|
|Planning||Planning occurs at three levels: release planning, iteration planning, and daily planning||Next sprint is planned after the team has completed the current sprint activities|
|Flexibility to Changes||Agile is very flexible and hence adapts to changes very quickly||Rigid framework & there is no much room for frequent changes|
|Design & Execution||Agile execution is quite simple and it usually something that isn’t done before||Works on trying new and creative ideas, which yields concise and smart outcomes|
|Monitoring Process||Requires detailed tracking & it takes place after every milestone of the overall design||Monitoring takes place after compilation of certain features rather than after each design|
|Leadership Role||A leader is accountable for the work done (or not done) by the team||There is no ‘team leader’, instead its fosters a multi-functional and self-organized team|
|Mode of Communication||The effective mode of communication is face-to-face within a team on a regular basis||Communication is done on a daily/weekly basis with respect to the schedule|
|Estimation Time & Delivery||The priority is always to satisfy the customer by providing continuous delivery of valuable software||Delivers build to clients to get their feedback, after each sprint|
|Customer Feedback||Encourages regular feedback during various processes from business users||Regular feedback is taken from end-users but in a more orderly fashion, like after every sprint|
A flexible model like agile can be applied in scenarios like, when:
Q3. What is the Scrum Framework?
Scrum is one of the most popular and lightweight agile framework, within which people can address complex adaptive problems, while productively and creatively delivering products of the highest possible value.
It’s different from the waterfall model in the following ways:
Q4. What is a Sprint in Scrum?
This is a very common question asked in product owner interviews. Scrum sprint is a regular, repeated work cycle in scrum methodology during which work is completed and made ready for review. Generally, the duration of a scrum sprint depends upon the size of the project and the number of people working on it. On average, the duration of a sprint lasts about 4 weeks.
Yes, Product Owners are considered to be a member of the Scrum Team. Each Scrum Team will have a single Product Owner responsible for prioritizing work items for the Sprint Backlog.
The three roles involved in scrum are as follows:
This is usually one of the initial questions, which will give the interviewer the opportunity to understand the exposure of the candidate.
Scrum Product Owner is responsible for maximizing the value of the product resulting from the work of the Development Team. However, how the Product Owner accomplishes this can vary widely depending on many factors, including the team, the business stakeholders, and the development processes of the organization. Their job is to act as the proxy of the customer, prioritize the backlog, answer or get answers to the team’s queries and accept/reject the work that the team generates.
In scrum interviews, this can be a very basic question. A product is something (tangible/non-tangible) created through a process to benefit a group of customers and to the organization that provides it. It can be anything from a chair, a painting, or it can even be just an idea.
No. Remember that the Product Owner should never act in the Scrum Master role. These two roles have conflicting goals and should never be merged. Mixing them can have a very negative effect on the development process. Both roles require 100% involvement. Scrum Master, at times, needs to act as a mediator between the development team and PO when their goals start to diverge. In such a case, if the same person is acting as both, there will be a conflict of interest, which will affect the team’s progress.
Q10. What is a Product Roadmap?
A product roadmap is a high-level visual summary that maps out the vision and provides strategy and plan for product development. It’s driven by several short and long-term company goals and communicates how and when the product will help achieve those goals. Also, it reduces uncertainty about the future and keeps product teams focused on the highest priority product initiatives.
Q10. Describe what happens in the sprint planning meeting?
A sprint planning meeting is a meeting in which all the scrum roles (product owner, scrum master, and development team) have a discussion about the team’s priority features and product backlog items. It is a meeting where the work to be done during a sprint is mapped out and the team members. During sprint planning, the entire team clearly defines deliverables for the Sprint and assigns the work necessary to achieve that goal.
It is an event where you can get answers to the following questions:
Q11. What is term velocity in agile? How is it measured?
Velocity predicts how much work Agile can complete in a sprint and how much time will it require to complete a project. The number is obtained by adding all the story points from the last sprint’s stories.
Q12. What are the desirable qualities of a vision?
Vision basically is a goal you set for your organization, the product or even for yourself. Some desired qualities of the vision are:
Q13. What are the characteristics of a good Product Backlog Item?
Product Backlog is a document that outlines the list of tasks and every requirement that the final product needs. Good backlog exhibits certain characteristics and the DEEP criteria are useful for determining if a product backlog has been structured in a good way.
A good product backlog item should be DEEP:
Q14. Vision, Strategy, and Roadmap. We keep using these words, but what do they mean?
Vision basically is a goal you set for your organization, the product or even for yourself. A Vision Statement describes the desired future position of the company. There are three elements which constitute a vision on a broader level, the purpose, the picture, and the values.
The strategy is a system of achievable goals and visions which describes who the customers are, how the product fits into the current market, and how it will achieve business goals. In contrast to the product vision, which should have a lifetime of many years, a product strategy is typically seen to look at a horizon of months to a few years.
The roadmap describes what products and features will be built to realize the strategy and vision, who is responsible for building those product features, and, sometimes, an estimate of when those products and features will be released.
Q15. What is term velocity in agile? How is it measured?
Velocity predicts how much work Agile can complete in a sprint and how much time will it require to complete a project. The number is obtained by adding all the story points from the last sprint’s stories.
Q16. What are the qualities or characteristics of a good product owner?
A good product owner is someone who is:
Q17. What is Product Increment?
The product improvement is the sum of product work completed during a Sprint combined with all work completed during previous sprints. Important point is that the increment must be in useable condition regardless of whether the Product Owner decides to release it or not. It is one of the most important artifacts used in the scrum framework.
Q18. What is a user story in Scrum? How does a good user story look?
In agile, a user story is a tool used in Agile software development that represents a small piece of business value that a team can deliver in a sprint. It creates a simplified description of a user’s requirements. A user story is defined incrementally in three stages:
A good user story should be Independent (I), Negotiable (N), Valuable (V), Estimable (E), Small (S), Testable (T). In short – INVEST.
Q19.What is the difference between the Product Manager (PM) and Product Owner (PO)?
The terms are often used interchangeably, and admittedly there is some overlap. Yet, those two are indeed different roles.
Q20. Who sets the sprint goal?
Product owner. Defining the sprint goal or sprint objective is one of the most important goal of the product owner.
Listed below are some popular techniques used to prioritize the product backlog:
If backlog items are turning into a large and unwieldy lengthy queue, it’s time to prioritize. As pointed out, there are numerous ways to do so.
Burndown charts are used to track sprint status, they illustrate the amount of work remained to complete a project”. Also, they will highlight the area where they see redundancy. So, burn -down charts include:
Q23. What are the most important components of Agile?
The most important components of the agile model are:
Q24. List some popular agile frameworks. Do you know any other agile methodology apart from scrum?
When you are posed with this sort of question, and if you haven’t used any other frameworks, you can just name few that you might have heard of. Other frameworks that are based on agile are:
Q25. As a product owner what will be your responsibilities?
The job description of a product owner is fairly straightforward. A Product Owner’s typical responsibilities include:
To fulfill all these responsibilities, the product owner needs skills such as facilitation, conflict management, creative thinking, and the ability to influence the team and other stakeholders
Q26. Do you think Agile Model is applicable for every project?
A flexible model like agile can be used in cases like, when:
Q27. What are the skills we need in a Product Owner?
It’s quite natural that every role demands certain skills to meet the expectations of the position. Few of the essential skills to be competent product owners are:
Q28. How does the PO filter the user stories before putting an idea in a backlog as a Product Backlog item?
A Product Owner should not outrightly reject any of ideas, nor can he/she accept all of them. Every idea that comes to the product owner needs to be analyzed. The analysis can be done in several ways like analyzing through creating a prototype, working on pilot customers, based on experience, etc. Based on the result of analysis, the PO should decide if the idea should be added to the product backlog or not.
Q29. Mention some scenarios where using scrum is not suggested?
Not every story about Scrum is a success story. Scrum can fail too. It’s not suggested to use scrum when:
Q30. What are the properties of a sprint?
Like any other entity scrum sprint also has certain properties that you should be aware of, like:
Prioritizing the requirements in the product backlog is one of the most important responsibilities of the product owner. There are several ways to do it, one of the most popular technique is MoSCoW. It is a Product backlog refinement technique, where:
Each requirement will have the priority which would be tagged to MoSCoW, with “M” being the highest and “W” being the lowest priority.
Q32. Is it ever suggested to use waterfall over Scrum? If yes, explain when.
When your requirements are simple, well-defined, fully understood, predictable, and are not subjected to change until the completion of the project you could probably go for the waterfall model.
Q33. How non-functional requirements can be dealt with within the product backlog?
Non-functional requirements play an important role in the overall product development and delivery. They are the requirements without which the functional part cannot be termed as complete. There are different ways of handlings such requirements, like:
Q34. What services that product owner receives from scrum master?
Scrum Master serves Product Owner in the following ways:
Q35. What are a few challenges of with the product owner role?
Some of the challenges that Product Owners face are:
Q36. Is it a product owner’s responsibility to track or measure the performance of the project?
Yes, it is. Generally, while the development team is one who measures sprint performance, it’s the product owner, who measures project performance.
Q37. How does Product Owner maximize the value of the Development Team’s work?
A large part of the Product Owner role is to establish the mission and vision for their teams work efforts. The Product owner can increase the value the team delivers through different strategies, which are:
Doing all the above-listed things not only encourages the team and helps them own the product but it also helps the overall business.
Q38. Have you heard of Product Backlog Refinement meeting? In that meeting do we focus on items of upcoming sprints or the current sprints?
During a Product backlog refinement meeting, the team and the product owner discuss the questions that would normally arise during sprint planning. Therefore, that meeting is for the upcoming sprint. The items in the current sprint are no longer on the Product Backlog. They are in the artifact called Sprint Backlog.
Q39. If you were a product owner how would you deal with uncooperative stakeholders?
The best way is to find a way to convince them that their presence and contribution is really important. Also, win their confidence by engaging them through regular meeting and discussions and demonstrating the value of agile product development. If it still fails, the product owner should seek help from a sponsor. Also, facilitate workshops, training events etc to get participation from uncooperative stakeholders.
Q40. Are you a certified scrum product owner (CSPO)?
This is one of the most commonly asked questions. Don’t panic if you don’t have a certification and they ask you this question! Be confident and answer if you have a product owner certification or not. If you are a certified scrum product owner just share the details of your certification like certification type, score obtained, and the year of passing. In case you are not certified to highlight your experience in the particular field and let the interviewer know if you are planning to take one in the future.
Every organization has its own reporting hierarchy. Scrum does not provide any mandatory ground rule on the reporting structure for the product owner. In a large organization where the product is fairly big and they use agile frameworks like SAFe, they have product managers at the highest level, who are the main owners of the product. At the team level, they have product owners who constantly stay in touch with the product managers and report to them. But again, there is no set criteria or hierarchy being followed at the organizations.
Q42. As a Product Owner, how would you communicate your marketplace knowledge to the Scrum Team?
As a part of the scrum team, it is very much required that the development team and the scrum master is aware of the changes happening in the market place. And making sure that the scrum team is up to date on marketplace knowledge is one of the responsibilities of the product owner. The Product Owner does it continuously as a part of his informal interactions with the development team and scrum meetings. He also does that through formal discussions and meetings that are part of the scrum framework.
Q43. How do you align the product roadmap with the product backlog and user stories?
You don’t align the product roadmap with the product backlog and user stories. The Product Roadmap describes what products and features will be built to realize the vision, who is responsible for building those product features, and, sometimes, an estimate of when those products and features will be released. It should generate User Stories for the team’s Product Backlog. There should be a parent-child relationship between the two.
Q44. The development team is repeatedly failing to fulfill the sprint commitment. As a product owner, what would you do?
It is very important for the Product Owner to understand the reason for the development team failing the sprint commitment. PO should continuously progress the work status of the Dev team. It could be due to multiple reasons:
A product owner needs to identify which amongst these reasons are responsible for the failure of the team. Based on the reason, the PO needs to work with the development team and Scrum master to find the solution.
Q45. Can a person be PO for multiple teams?
The Product Owner is the owner of a single product. He/she focuses on the given product by constantly being in touch with the customers and stakeholders. Aligning a PO for multiple projects will impact the quality of deliverable and it will also affect the duties of individual playing the role of a PO.
The main objective of the PO is to maximize the value of the product. So, if a PO is in charge of multiple products, the focus gets divided, the time also gets broken down between different parties which in turn creates a mess for the product owner. It is not advisable to align one product owner with multiple projects as it also affects the strategy and timeline for the project.
Q46. How will you know if you are successful as a product owner or not?
Generally, the success of the product owner depends on how much invested the person in this role and understands the true meaning of being a product owner. Certain parameters that would help you evaluate yourself are:
But, in no way, these are the only parameters. There can be many parameters to access the success of this role.
Q47. Do you hold any agile certification? Why did you choose this certification?
This sort of question might seem awkward if you don’t have any certification. In such cases, stay calm and just let the interviewer know if are planning to take any in the future. If yes, then mention why you have that particular certification. Some popular certifications are:
The agile model has helped the teams to manage changes within the development process model. According to agile principles, if the change is being requested by the Product Owner, the team has to decide if they should accept it or not. There will be a negotiation between the product owner and the development, the team gets to take the final call on the acceptance of the change.
Q49. Your team is constantly failing to meet commitments, and its performance velocity is volatile. What might the possible reasons be?
This question basically addresses various issues. There are many possible factors that might combine to make a team’s velocity volatile, like:
Q50. List some of the popular project management tools that you have heard of.
Some popular tools used in the project management are Rally Software, Version One, XPlanner, EasyBacklog Agilefant, and many others.
Well, that’s it! We have reached the end of the Product Owner Interview Questions Article.
I hope the questions listed in this “Product Owner Interview Questions” help you crack your interview. Also, to gain confidence in this area, you can opt for a certification program for product owner. Happy learning!
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