In a marketing interview I was asked, "If things were going bad, how would you bring up morale?". First I really dislike when questions are asked with zero context. Usually when I ask for more background they say "make it up yourself".

With marketing/sales I realize sometimes the job is to promote a product that most people don't want. I have learned to accept that as part of the job and don't let it affect me (for this and various other reasons I prefer remuneration that is a flat rate and not commission based). What I have seen before is when I'm working with a team and some of the team members start talking about how the product sucks and we're never going to be able to sell any, I would try to distance myself from those being negative.

In short, I have no clue how to answer such a question. I wasn't able to find much on Google either.

  • 1
    Is morale low because of the pandemic? Maybe the interviewer was just trying to tell you what to expect. Mar 29, 2020 at 5:23
  • 2
    There's a notorious university exam question. "Part 1. Write a question relevant to this course. Part 2. Answer it. You will be graded on both parts." This interview question would very much like that, if the course were "motivating teams". You're expected to refine the question by adding context, then answer it.
    – O. Jones
    Mar 30, 2020 at 15:08
  • 3
    Well, the obvious answer would be the beatings will continue until morale improves. :)
    – fgysin
    Apr 2, 2020 at 6:40
  • 1
    Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/153324/…
    – DarkCygnus
    Apr 4, 2020 at 21:25

6 Answers 6


The best way to answer this question is to create the context from personal experience and describe what you did to achieve the objective of improving morale. In my opinion there is an extra hidden question inside this question and that is "have you ever had to take lead in improving morale in a group of people". The best way to answer this is to lead with an example from your own personal experience and describe what you did. If you don't have that kind of experience, then that tells your prospective employer a lot about you, not much of it good to be honest.

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    I disagree with your last line. Not having that kind of experience could be due to the candidate having worked in places with considerate, inclusive cultures, excellent job security and career prospects, and a solid recruitment process. Equally it could be because the candidate is an inspirational and charismatic leader. While I agree some interviewers may not have the ability to see beyond the candidate not not having that kind of experience, it's harsh to suggest to OP (and readers) that it is almost entirely a negative reflection on them and their career.
    – amcdermott
    Mar 31, 2020 at 8:44

Well, let's shift it into a context you might be a bit more familiar with.

You're the in-team leader - and things aren't looking good; your coach is out getting drunk, and you need to come up with a way to try to get the team back mentally for the second half of the game/contest. What do you say to them?

It's the same general idea - things aren't going well, but you need to find a way to help lead onwards.

So how do you do it? It might be a bit easier to answer - chances are, you've been part of a team in the past and have had to rally them when things aren't looking good. Or failing that, you've at least seen sports movies.

Personally, my answer would be: be very diligent on finding the positives, try to maintain laser focus on immediate actionable and achievable goals/priorities, and only bring up failures in the context of improvement (never blame!) It's tough for me to give it the context of marketing (since I don't have any experience with that).

Anyway, one useful trick is, whenever someone's asking you about how you would handle a situation that you don't have much experience in: quickly try to think if there are any ways of translating it into a context you're more familiar with.

  • +1 for the lead that this question IS about previous experiences. After all, If you are hired for managerial role they would like the candidate to have improved morale. Knight in the shiniest armour and all that jazz. Mar 31, 2020 at 14:56

If the question is asked in a generic or vague way, you can't reasonably be expected to give an answer full of detail.

However, I'd be inclined to start my answer by making clear that I'm answering in a general context. Something like... "Well, every situation is different - morale could be poor for a variety of reasons and could range in severity from mild disgruntlement to anger. Any response would have to factor in the reason for the poor morale, its severity and of course the personalities involved."

From there you can briefly describe what you'd do. You might touch on points like

  • Identify the reason for the poor morale - this could be self evident, but in the event that it's not, what would you do to find out. Speak to the team as a unit? Speak to individual team members?
  • Address the cause - maybe it's to do with team chemistry, working practices, decisions or actions of senior management, concerns over job security, etc... Clearly some of these are easier to fix than others - explain how you would address simple cases and then how you would escalate them in order to address more complex ones.
  • Maybe engage in some team building exercise - maybe a team lunch.

Having given a general answer, you could then take the opportunity to give details around a time when you did have to deal with low morale. Briefly explain the reason morale was poor, document the steps you took to remedy the situation and highlight the positive results of your actions.

  • "Identify the reason for the poor morale" - specifically I would invoke the "4 Whys" method to identify root causes of issues. Mar 30, 2020 at 17:40

This is a behavioral question. There is no one "correct" answer. The objective of such questions is to gauge if you're someone that people will want to work with. These questions are best answered with a narrative from your own personal experience. Behavioral questions tend to focus more on problem scenarios where something has gone wrong, because that's where people show their true selves and where team cohesion is put to the test.

It's possible that you've never been in the exact scenario of the question (a team with low morale). It's OK to pass on a question if you're drawing a blank. A skilled behavioral interviewer will not expect a vignette for every question, they'll have other questions. If you pass on too many behavioral questions, however, that will be taken as a red-flag.

If you do choose to answer that question, it's super important to draw from your own authentic experience. If you try too hard to pander to what you think the interviewer wants to hear, that's usually obvious and can be taken negatively by skilled interviewers. To use an example from one of the other answers, saying something like "I always continue to maintain laser-focus on immediate deliverables" would make me wonder if you're an annoying person to work with.

It's much better to pick a real low-morale time in your experience, describe what happened, what you did, then reflect on or even critique on that time. Even if you did "the wrong thing" or something ineffectual, your answer could still be a positive if you provide some insight or demonstrate that you learned something valuable from the experience. People who only paint themselves as "project superheros" in response to such questions will raise a red-flag as disingenuous.


When morale is low, there are three things you can do to improve the situation.

First, improve individuals' morale with public recognition for individual contribution. Make each member of the team feel important and appreciated, in her/his own way. If a member of the team doesn't have a really meaningful contribution, then work with them on a dedicated growth plan based on their skills and interests.

Second, improve the team's morale with recognition for the whole team's efforts, showcasing how different people came together to deliver more than the sum of their contributions.

Third, give the team something external to be happy about - company growing, customers giving a good reference about their work, improvements in work conditions, new training budget, new channel to voice feedback... plenty of ways.


As our company commander said, in order to raise the morale of a soldier, you don’t have to do much, just take off your shoulder straps and stand with him in the same row and together carry out the task in spite of its complexity !!

  • 1
    Welcome to Workplace.SE! This is an English-language website, so please write your answers in English. Thanks.
    – F1Krazy
    Apr 4, 2020 at 10:32
  • google shows that text in first revision of the answer is plagiarized from here: dev.by/news/…
    – gnat
    Apr 4, 2020 at 11:18

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