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We’ve been busy recruiting for a number of Agile roles and one of the questions we get asked a lot is how to make the most of the interview time you have with a candidate. Here are 5 tips for interviewing for Agile positions that will help you get the best out of the short time you have with them.

  1. Hire for your company’s current state

This tip is for before you invite someone to interview. If your company is in the transition to Agile, then you’re looking for someone who can spearhead the transformation. You’ll be looking for a candidate with demonstrable leadership skills: someone who can develop with you and take a key part in helping the journey be successful. It’s also worth asking at interview if they have experience in developing Agile processes – you really want to hire someone who is going to be a positive influence in shaping your adoption of new ways of working.

If you are already fully Agile you’re looking for someone who can adapt to the way you do things. They’ll need to bring their knowledge, experience, and ideas but they don’t need to be someone who can convince stakeholders of the value of working in sprints, for example.

  1. Look for flexibility

Plan to ask your candidates how they handle retrospectives. You can learn a lot by getting them to explain how those sessions are structured and what happens with the output. If your candidate seems genuinely excited about the opportunity to make things better through the conversations that happen as part of a retrospective, then you’re talking to someone who is keen to get the best out of their work, even if that means changing as you go.

Flexibility is a characteristic of a good Agile team player and Scrum Masters, so test that out in your candidates through your interview process.

  1. Weed out candidates who don’t value delivery

Candidates can sometimes get too focused on talking about the documentation they’d create or the processes they follow. That’s helpful for you to get an understanding of their working style, but the most important thing to look for is whether or not they value delivery.

A key component of Agile is delivering a working product. The other stuff is good, but if you don’t end up with a product at the end of the day it’s not worth anything. Get your candidates to talk about delivery.

  1. Don’t be bamboozled by the jargon

If you don’t have a lot of Agile experience yourself as an interviewer, bring someone along to the interview who does know all the right terms. They will be able to judge subject matter knowledge.

Interview situations are often where we see candidates trying to impress by using Agile ‘buzzwords’ to show their knowledge. In a way, that’s good: it shows they understand the jargon (as long as they are using it correctly).

But sometimes words are just thrown out there. Make sure as an interview team you can tell if someone really knows what they are talking about!

  1. Team, team, team

Whatever Agile role you are hiring for, the candidate is going to have to fit into an existing team. Think about them as you go through the recruitment process. How would this person fit in? What conflicts can you already see happening and how you could help the team to avoid those?

Successful Agile projects rely heavily on the team working well together. In the case of a Scrum Master, you’re essentially hiring a facilitator for the team. The candidate has to be someone who can flex their style and work effectively with people at all kinds of levels and with all kinds of experience. Is the person in front of you going to be able to do that?

Remember, you don’t have to use an hour-long interview as the only way you assess candidates for your roles. We’re here to help with your recruitment needs.

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