Recently I had the privilege of interviewing several agile coach candidates in consideration to join my firm.  Instead of spending all of our time asking typical interview questions about past activities coaching agile teams and helping organizations transform, we asked candidates if they would be willing to coach several volunteers through a quick game of Jenga so as to see how they would perform coaching members of a simulated team.  The integration of game play into interviews for positions like agile coaches, ScrumMasters or any team member for that matter can provide valuable insights into prior experiences and assess communication abilities at a much greater level of fidelity than is yielded by typical interview questions.  The benefits of using games within interviews for coaching positions are analogous to the benefits gained by using a pair-programming session to assess both the technical skills and communication skills of software developers on agile teams.  Moreover, these valuable insights and the opportunity to experience how a coaching candidate would interact with actual team members was gained in just over 5 minutes.

Join us at AgileGames 2015 for a Jenga session where you’ll have an opportunity to experience game-based techniques for job interviews that will allow you to gather more precise information regarding candidates under consideration in less time.  During this GameJam session, participants will work in groups of 3 or 4 to go through simulated coaching interviews.  These interviews will be facilitated in a round-robin manner to allow participants to experience both what it is like to facilitate a game within a job interview as an interviewer, as well as provide an opportunity to experience what it is like to be interviewed using game-based techniques as an interviewee.


Outline/Structure of the Demonstration

This NEW session is intended to be presented within the GameJam (CallForGames) at AgileGames 2015 - the intent is to allow attendees to experience what it is like to adapt and facilitate a game within a job interview for a coaching / ScrumMaster position.  Timing for the session will be 60 minutes with the focus being on allow participants to experience both roles within the game (interviewers facilitating the game & the person being interviewed).

If desired, this session can be increased to a workshop (90 minutes) to allow for more-indepth discussion of the background and how to go about integrating game based techniques into coaching interviews.

A facilitation guide and notes sheet will be provided to all attendees - participants will use these to take notes during their simulated interviews for discussion in the debrief following game play.

Session Timeline (times shown below are in elapsed time):

  • 0:00 - 5:00 - Welcome and review of game/session objectives
  • 5:00 - 12:00 - Briefing on game setup, rules; group formation; game demonstration
  • 12:00 - 19:00 - Game Session #1
  • 19:00 - 26:00 - Game Session #2 (Rotate to allow another group member to be the interviewee)
  • 26:00 - 33:00 - Game Session #3 (Rotate interviewee again)
  • 33:00 - 40:00 - Game Session #4 (Rotate interviewee for the last time)
  • 40:00 - 60:00 - Debrief & Questions


Debrief Outline:

Quick Assessments:

  • Did you have fun?
  • Did you gain insights about the person being interviewed that would have been difficult to determine through traditional questions/answer interviews?
  • Will you integrate this into your future coach / ScrumMaster interviewing activities?

Discussion Prompts:

  • Examples of specific insights that you gained from the interviewee using the technique?
  • What did you like about the technique?
  • What did you not like about the technique?
  • What could improve the technique?
  • What questions or puzzles do you have about using games within candidate interviews?

Learning Outcome

  • Gain insights into how to safely integrate a game into a job interview.
  • Experience how use of games within job interviews provides more precise and accurate information about candidate skills and on-the-job behavior.
  • Experience how use of games within job interviews increases engagement of both the interviewers and the candidate being interviewed.

Target Audience

Anyone who wants to have fun and has a need to assess communication and teaming skills when interviewing job applicants

schedule Submitted 6 years ago

  • Ellen Grove

    Ellen Grove / Mike Bowler - Everything Is Better When We Stick Together: Building Team Working Agreements

    60 Mins

    Whether a team is brand-new or seasoned veterans at working together, explicitly defining and/or refining a team working agreement will help the team to align on how they will work together effectively to meet their common goal. In this fast-paced hands-on session, participants will go through the process of building a team working agreement using LEGO Serious Play (LSP).

    Creating a team working agreement helps team members set the stage for effective communication and high performance by making assumptions about ‘what really matters to us’ and ‘how we will work together?’ explicit and negotiable.  Great working agreements address some difficult topics - what values do we share? how do we want to deal with conflict when it comes up? how will we handle problems within the team? - which are often challenging to discuss openly and honestly, especially when a team is first assembled.  

    This session will show you how to use LEGO Serious Play to encourage a frank and fearless discussion in order to kickstart these discussions so that a team can quickly create a powerful set of simple guiding principles for working together.  Participants will learn about the importance of team working agreements in creating team cohesion and common understanding of shared values and operational guidelines, and experience hands-on how to use the LEGO Serious Play cycle of build-share-reflect to have a participatory discussion to identify shared values, explore reactions to conflict, and build a set of simple guiding principles.


  • Wayde Stallmann

    Wayde Stallmann - Boring Meetings Suck: Play Improv Warm-up Games To Improve Them & Your Teams

    90 Mins

    You will be surprised to learn that Improv Teams and Agile Teams have many similarities.  The same techniques Improv Teams use to turn a group of random individuals into a powerful Team can be used by Agile Teams to improve Collaboration, Creativity, Communication & Trust.  I will challenge your assumptions about meetings and playing games at work.  We will play several of these 3 minute games so that you can see how they help each of us become a better team player.

    This unique workshop will have attendees out of their seats and on their feet actively practicing the concepts presented during the short lecture, thus proving how warm-up games from the world of Improv will build Great Team Players.  Practicing the four essential qualities of a Great Team Player, i.e. Collaboration, Creativity, Communication and Trust, not only shows attendees how they can become a Great Team Player, but also how to train others within their organization.  This hands on workshop provides immediately actionable material for participants to use on their first day back to work.  Additionally, attendees will see first hand how playing Improv warm-up games create Great Team Players, which can move freely from team to team within their organization.

  • Ellen Grove

    Ellen Grove - Lifting off: using play to build a better beginning

    180 Mins

    Better teams create better outcomes.  A liftoff (as described in the book Liftoff by Diana Larsen and Ainsley Nies) at the outset of a new endeavour helps teams set the stage for betterness by cocreating a shared understanding of purpose, establishing alignment and understanding the context of the work they will do together.  While the activities to include in a Lift Off will vary according to team and context, the practice of Agile Chartering - collaboratively developing a lightweight yet effective roadmap for the project and the team - is key to aligning and inspiring people to do better work together.

    The purpose of an Agile Chartering workshop is to give all stakeholders of a project a voice and the opportunity to co-create a common understanding of the project dynamics, its purpose and context. It creates co-ownership of the project within the project team and thereby higher commitment to the project goals.

    In this workshop, we will explore the objectives of Agile Chartering and foster  a playful approach to doing this work. We'll talk about what kinds of games can be used to cocreate Purpose, Alignment and Context with a team, and run at least one game that can be used for each of the elements of an Agile Charter