Can the NCAA Tournament Affect Your Job Interview?

The North Carolina Unemployment Insurance Office distributes a list of 18 tips that will “convince the employer that it is good business to hire you”. Most are standard advice that you would expect to find: learn as much as you can about the company, be prompt, dress appropriately. Some seemed a bit elementary. In this category were: be polite and courteous, answer employer’s questions honestly, don’t discuss your domestic and financial troubles. But, one of them seemed outright strange to me. Tip #12 advises you to “avoid any arguments with your prospective employer”.

At first, I snorted a laugh and thought this should be preceded by a reminder to “be sure to take all your medication”. Who in their right mind would do this? What could happen in an interview to start an argument? Then DING! I remembered basketball tournament season here in the south, March Madness, a time when college rivalry is tantamount. I recalled that when I first moved to NC, I swore everyone’s IQ dropped 15 points during the ACC and NCAA playoffs. Now I’ve become accustomed to the unbridled passion. Yes, during basketball tournament season, an argument at a job interview is quite possible.

I can picture the scene. An applicant sitting in an employer’s office notices a poster or a more subtle display of the arch-rival team. Here in the Triangle area even a specific color like NC State red or Carolina blue could be the spark. Being a true fan, the applicant can’t help making a humorous but slightly disparaging remark. A polite yet more disparaging retort is returned. Any other time during the year, this exchange might be considered acceptable, friendly banter…but not during tournament season. It could very well launch a debate, which might become heated and lead to something unsavory.

In fact, right now, although it is April, I believe we are in the Final Four portion of tournament mania. Arguments during job interviews, not to mention a score of other places, are probably going on as I write this. Sadly, I am not sure wise tip #12 from the Unemployment Insurance Office will help.

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