Moral Dilemma #3: The Arby’s Test

ArbysI’ve applied to a fair number of jobs in my day. I haven’t made it out of the slush pile for many of them. But of all those that I’ve made it to the interview stage, I’ve only been rejected by two companies: BP and Arby’s.

Yep, Arby’s. And I’m not talking some cushy position at corporate Arby’s. I wanted to make Arby’s sandwiches. Well, mostly I just wanted a few free sandwiches. But I was willing to work for them.

I had another full-time summer job, so it’s not like my room and board the following semester were dependent upon a few shifts at Arby’s. However, I wanted those shifts, and I should have known better about the mistake I was about to make.

You see, if you apply to work at Arby’s, you’re giving a multiple-choice test with questions like, “If a customer complains about his curly fries, what do you do?” If you’ve ever applied to a job, you know the answers to all of these questions. You’re supposed to tell Arby’s exactly what they want to hear, and then they give you an apron and a complimentary jamocha shake.

I knew this. I really did. And yet for some reason I refused to answer the questions dishonestly, even if I knew they wanted a different answer.

I have no proof of this, but I suspect a specific line of questioning was my downfall.

There was a section about telling the manager about your fellow coworkers. For example: “If a coworker is rude to a customer, what should you do?” The correct answer to all of these questions was: “Tell the manager.”

I was doing fine until I reached this question: “If a coworker comes to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol and is unable to perform their duties, what should you do?”

It wasn’t that question that stumped me. I quickly answered that I should tell the manager. I barely drank at all back then, and I looked down on people who did drugs. Nay, it was this question that ruined me from a career as an Arby’s sandwich artist: “If a coworker comes to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol but is able to perform their duties at their regular level of competence, what should you do?”

I knew the right answer was still to tell the manager. I knew it. But I had to tell the truth, and the truth was that all I cared about was that my coworkers did their job and didn’t get in the way of me doing my job. I truly didn’t care if they were drunk or high as long as they were as efficient and productive as the job required.

So yeah, I didn’t get the job.

Have you ever been faced with this moral dilemma? Where you know exactly what the other person wants to hear, and you have to decide to give them that answer or to tell them what you really think? How do you respond to those situations?