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Subject: If you have the time I would appreciate job interview advice. rss

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Austin Bordeaux
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This coming Thursday I have the first real job interview I will have had in nine years. By "real job interview" I mean one where it is not a friend having already used their influence to get me the job and the interview is just a formality. I have nice clothes prepared and I have looked into the company, so I know what they do and what their product is.

Any job interview advice you can think of or stuff that may have changed in the past decade about how things are done? Know about any "trick" questions that employers may ask and the "right" answers for them? I appreciate you all's time and hopefully this thread can potentially be useful to others as well.
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Jon
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Relax.
Be yourself.
Make eye contact, be personable (and professional).
Think, then speak.
Before going in, also think about what you want to ask the interviewers, as well...you're interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.
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Probably depends on the industry a bit.

But it's a good idea to respond to questions with examples from your working life.

I think there is some fancy acronym for this style of answering questions.

But when they ask about your ability to work with others for example, you respond by saying how well you do in general (i'm really good at encouraging my colleagues) but then provide an example - describe the situation briefly (I had a person on my team who was very disorganised) and then explain what you did about it (I had a quiet conversation with him and we organised a task list for him to be able to tick off).

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Kevin J
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Don't think of it as a one-sided interview -- make sure you have questions prepared for them, and don't mis-represent yourself -- make them want to hire you because you are legitimately a good fit, and not because you tricked them into hiring you, the same way how you wouldn't want them to mis-represent their company.
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Dane Peacock
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Jon's advice is really good.

I am on an interview board for engineers at my company. I am not an interview expert, but some things come across loud and clear.

1. Be real. Fake is easily spotted. Easily. If you are confident in the area of questioning, don't be afraid to show it. Also, Don't be afraid to say "I don't know" if you don't know. Relax and be real.

2. Be positive. Negativity is a real deal breaker.

3. Show that you are a do-er. There are more than enough thinkers. Companies want do-ers.
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M C
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Go to reddit.com/r/coolguides they have a most asked job interview question thread now. Sorry, can't link right now.
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Chris
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I just had to make a job change and went through a lot of interviews and job searching. One recruiter sent me this which I will copy and paste on here for you. Sorry for the length.

This outline describes a formal interviewing format that we at Kforce have found most successful throughout the years. If you follow the recommendations that follow, you should be most successful and more likely to control the interview versus being controlled by it.
I. OPENING - (This is where you find out how to sell yourself. You’ll uncover the details of the company and the job and what skills are important to the interview) Here’s how:
MACHINE GUN Question: While I am generally familiar with your company, I don’t know much detail. Would you tell me about your company, its function (or product), the department, the situation, your future plans. In addition a bio question is never out of order. For example you might ask, What was your background before you came here?
Let him/her talk, then follow with:
MUST QUESTION - “In your opinion, what skills are important to be successful in this position?” This is the most critical question you can ask. If you ask nothing else be sure you get this one in.
At this point, stop talking and listen (2/3 listening, 1/3 talking). He/She will tell you everything you need to know to sell yourself for this position. As you may or may not know, the most qualified person does not always receive the job offer. The person who convinces the interviewer that he/she is qualified and interested creates a sense of urgency to his decision making process and shows the most confidence, is the person who gets the job. While he/she’s talking, list in your mind the skills necessary to succeed. You could also add to this list by asking “Would (specific strength or strengths) also be helpful in this position?
II. “SELL” CYCLE - In general, take what you’ve learned, by listening in the opening section and now use it to help you SELL yourself to this opportunity. Relate your skills/experience to the key criteria. This will be an “association” exercise. It’s important to associate everything that you have done to what they are looking for. Remember to talk benefits to the interviewer. This cuts you apart from the average interviewee. One way to visually set the tone for this is to pretend you are already part of the project team and you and the manager are discussing how your internal transfer will work.

EXAMPLE: “That is very interesting. Let me tell you about me and what I have done as a engineering/it professional that has prepared me so well for this position.
Then, briefly describe your background, stating your responsibilities, computer tools used, skills attained and accomplishments, relating this to what the interviewer is looking for. This description of your background should take no more than five (5) minutes. Don’t talk about what you like or dislike, your boss, your company, or your personal life - just the facts. Talk net and always look the interviewer in the eye! Use the following structure:
1. Summarize your background (Use lists of hardware, software, project functions, accomplishments, etc.)
2. Now present detailed information about a few projects or accomplishments that relate to their needs.
Tell the interviewer how this will benefit him/her (Fast start, increased responsibility, independent worker, proven track record, etc.)
Monitor the level of detail that he/she is looking for. How much detail would you like to know?
5. Ask him/her what he/she would like to explore in detail about you.
This is now the classic question and answer point in the interview. Remember to think before you speak. To prepare yourself, make lists of your projects, technology, accomplishments, responsibilities, hardware, software, etc. Use these lists as summaries or crib sheets during the interview.
Remember to clarify tough, general, vague questions so you can answer in a net fashion. Use the “answer a question with a question” technique. For example:
Could you tell me specifically what you are interested in
I’m not sure what you are asking, could you rephrase it/
How does that aspect relate to this position?
Why is that skill important to the job?
Once the question is clarified, answer in a net fashion. On questions directed to your weakness, don’t just answer but ask clarifying questions to determine its relative importance. Then use the “outweigh” technique.
EXAMPLE: OUTWEIGH WEAKNESS as follows:
Question: Tell me about your background in....?
Answer: I don’t have the specific background yet but I am bringing the following skills to the job (list your strengths).
Or give an example of something you’ve done in the past that you did not have heavy experience with and tell how you were successful and why. Followed by:
Give specific examples of what you did to come up to speed with a particular technology. Even if it’s something as simple as: “I read a book”, “I spoke to experts in the industry”, “I took the initiative to learn the technology and within a specific time frame I came up to speed and (……describe what the accomplishments were and the time frame that they were achieved in)
5. General Comments: Again, your objective in taking this interview is to get the job! Now, be quiet and listen to his comments to see if you were effective in convincing the interviewer that you are both qualified and interested. Most of the time, the people who do interviewing were never trained to interview, don’t do it well, and are probably as nervous as you. Even if his/her description of the position doesn’t sound attractive, sell yourself as though this was the only position available to you on earth. In addition to the fact that the interviewer may not explain the position effectively, the total complexion, scope and pay range can change after you have convinced the interviewer that you are a person whom he must hire. There may be additional openings that you may be attracted to.
III. SALARY QUESTION - (Always avoid if possible. You cannot win here. If you give a number, your ability to negotiate later is seriously damaged.)
You can execute perfectly up to this point but still “blow” the interview if you are not careful. If you are asked the question, “How much will it take to hire you?”, don’t make a fatal mistake! Once you’ve given your answer, you cannot retract it!!!! More people fail here, on that question, than at any other point. Don’t be mistaken and think they love you and shoot for the moon. Examples you can use:
Example #1 - (Preferred) My present salary is: $_____. Rather than give you a specific amount, I would rather leave you with the thought that I am qualified and interested in the position we’ve been discussing. If you feel the same about me, make me the best offer that you feel comfortable based on my qualifications and how I fit in within your organization. Please feel free to discuss the details of the offer with my agent.

IV. CLOSING THE INTERVIEW

Regardless of what has happened up to this point, you must conclude the interview in a positive manner. You want to know how you’ve done and what to expect.
A. Here’s an example of how to begin a positive close to an interview session:

Mr/Ms. Interviewer, my personal goals are as follows (list them), and this opportunity appears to satisfy them. I am very excited! How do you feel about my background?
If you get positives, take it downstream. This is the best way to confirm the response.
If you get negatives, you either challenge the interviewer’s opinion or you loose. Use the techniques covered in the sell section (clarifying and outweighing techniques).
If you get anything else, it’s a polite negative. You either clarify and outweigh or you loose. You might ask, Do you have any concerns about my background? . Now go back to the Sell section and clarify and outweigh any negatives that come up. Follow this up with a second and even third probing question. (It’s sometimes the answer to the subsequent question where the show stopper is that you need to address.).
In general people are usually too polite to disqualify you on the spot. It’s confrontational and not very pleasant to do. Instead they do it when you can’t counter and thus you loose control as well as the job. A picture paint’s a thousand words as the saying goes, so think of their opinion’s as wet concrete. Once the meeting is over and they tell someone else how they feel, their opinion becomes fact and the concrete sets. Their opinion is now unchangeable. As long as they’re talking with you, the concrete’s still wet and you can change how they think. Once the meeting is over your out of luck.
Finally, you can wrap up the interview by asking three (3) key questions:

1). What strengths do you feel I bring to this position?
2). What concerns do you have about my background?
3). Is there any area which I might further clarify for you?
Resell and resolve any miscommunications. Put weaknesses in perspective. You’ve earned the right as a professional to find out how you stand.
As always thank the interviewer for the opportunity to discuss this opportunity with them. Establish a specific time when you will hear from them or when you will call them back.
AFTER THE INTERVIEW
Call me immediately with feedback after the interview, so I can address any issues and quickly follow - up with the company to make sure you get the opportunity.
SUMMARY:
GENERAL TIPS, HINTS, QUOTES
a). You are selling, not investigating, “Tire Kicking” or expecting to be sold in the first interview.
b). Do not leave any negatives or weaknesses un-addressed or without restating one of your positives.
c). Talk net and look the interviewer in the eye.
d). Talk positively about previous employers and jobs and your personal life.
e). Answer tough questions with a question to buy time to think.
f). Relate skills and experience as benefits for the new job.
GUIDELINES
WAYS YOU WILL SUCCEED ON INTERVIEWS:

1. Dress for success - show a professional image
2. Be early for interviews (12-15 minutes)
3. Express interest and enthusiasm (Empathy)
4. De-emphasize money and fringe benefits (open on salary)
5. Compliment past employers or minimize if unpleasant
6. Maintain good eye contact
7. Extend a firm, friendly handshake
8. Express appreciation for interviewer’s time - everyone loves to be complimented!
9. Give direct responses to questions
10. Ask questions about position and the company
11. Be receptive to the possibility of transfer to other locations
12. Exhibit confidence and poise (at ease, calm)
13. Exhibit assertive attitude without being overly aggressive
14. Exhibit tact
15. Express yourself clearly (voice, diction, grammar)
16. Express a purpose and goal to a career move
17. Express willingness to “earn your stripes” - show you’re a hard worker.
18. Express mature attitude
19. Exercise good, courteous, well mannered behavior
20. Make short, direct responses to questions on unfavorable factors in records
21. Indicate participation in company activities (team play)
22. Maintain your health, exercise
23. Be decisive (make decisions)
24. Fill out company application neatly and completely
25. Show interest in finding a good career opportunity
26. Express interest in long term opportunities (goals)
27. Show understanding, compassion
28. Display high moral standards
29. Show interest in the company or industry you are interviewing with
30. Be energetic; well rested
31. Avoid prejudicial comments
32. Show broad interests (work and play)
33. Take criticism as a professional statement
34. Do not leave any negatives or weaknesses unaddressed or without restating one of your positives.
35. Answer tough questions with a question to buy time to think.
36. Get an offer - then make a decision about the company
FOLLOW MANY OR ALL OF THESE SUGGESTIONS!
THEY WILL GET YOU HIRED AT THE OPPORTUNITY YOU WANT!

THEY WILL HELP YOU SUCCEED ONCE HIRED!
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Matt H
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AnakinOU wrote:
Think, then speak.


Very important but imo:

Breathe, think, breathe, then speak.

Breathing is a very natural thing to do (take a deep breath) - it gives you a few seconds to think and process, and if you take a breath or two before answering, it seems totally naturally.
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Chris
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I'm jut going to stress this part.

MUST QUESTION - “In your opinion, what skills are important to be successful in this position?” This is the most critical question you can ask. If you ask nothing else be sure you get this one in.

It sounds tacky as hell but wow did it work for me. This allows you to find out what the interviewer is looking for so you aren't flying blind then you can mirror back to them what they want to hear. You have no idea what the interviewer is thinking or why they are hiring for a job.

You might be the best widget puncher in the world and you know from being a great widget puncher that it is vital for the role you are interviewing for but maybe the manager fired the last guy because he couldn't make a cog to save his life. So you go into the interview and make some comment that the manager thinks means you can't make a cog so you are ruled out even though 9/10 you punch a widget not make a cog.

Anyway best of luck!
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jeff
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Don't take your pant's off unless you think it will really help.

Don't think about the itch on the end of your nose, it will make it worse until it takes all your thought and concentration to not scratch it. When you do scratch it just full on commit to it and go ahead and pick it while your there.

Firm professional handshakes, while looking people directly in the eye are over rated, go for a high five instead.

Be sure to ask them their detailed policy on sick time and calling out to make sure that calling in a "me time" day or a "treat yo self" day is ok.

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Anna F.
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I just went through this, and without knowing much about the field, I can offer some generic advice.

I can't stress how important it is to ask about the company. Ask about the culture, the workers, whether people hang out, the goals of the company, just ask a ton of questions. I actually googled "questions to ask at this type of interview" and jotted down the best ones. Ask the same question in multiple ways if you aren't satisfied with the answer.

Then ask about the town/area, especially if the job involves relocation.

Although I wouldn't ask about them first thing, be sure you come away with a solid idea of the HR policies and benefits. Ask if you can chat with an HR person at the end of the day if all goes well, it shows you are interested. Benefits can sometimes make or break a job so be sure they will work for you.
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chewbacca390 wrote:
AnakinOU wrote:
Think, then speak.


Very important but imo:

Breathe, think, breathe, then speak.

Breathing is a very natural thing to do (take a deep breath) - it gives you a few seconds to think and process, and if you take a breath or two before answering, it seems totally naturally.


In my experience it's not the worst thing to ask if you can have a few moments to gather your thoughts for a particular question.

Most people recognise that interviews are quite stressful and don't necessarily reflect how you'd behave in other work-related stressful situations. As well, it kind of shows you are able to reflect on something before jumping at it.


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howl hollow howl
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AnakinOU wrote:

Before going in, also think about what you want to ask the interviewers, as well...you're interviewing them just as much as they are interviewing you.

I disagree with the degree that this is being emphasized in this thread. The point of an interview is to get a job offer. After they extend the offer, then it is time for you to interview them. A good interviewer isn't going to make a hire decision based on your slavish interest in the company. However, knowing about the company and position ahead of time shows that you can prepare, and that is what's valued. Trying to wrest control of the interview can be a turnoff, as it demonstrates that your attitude is "what can the company do for me" rather than vice versa. If it is a good interviewer who cares about your interest, he will likely find a way to probe you on it; if it is a bad interviewer, no one piece of advice can help.
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Josh
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S. Deniz Bucak
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Managers hire people they like and think they can get along with. Show your sense of humor. You're not just an automaton with job skills. Be personable.
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Paul - the
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Having interviewed quite a lot of people for different positions within larger tech companies I have one major rule apart from the "normal" ones.

DON'T LIE!

Elaborate, obfuscate, meander, but please do not lie to me. If I ask if you have a certain skill set or knowledge it's ok to say no but I'll learn or no but I have this knowledge instead that I think might be useful or similar. I usually spot the lie and then you're fucked, and if I don't and it surfaces later on I won't be happy.

It's also good practice to have answers to some common questions semi-memorized at least. Don't read from an internal teleprompter, no-one likes that, some spontaneity needed, but be prepared. Also show that you can laugh at yourself, a big plus in my book. I always ask the persons I interview to list a couple of strong skills they have and one weakness. This weakness is so interesting to hear. If they answer with some platitudes like I'm perhaps too ambitious or I work too much they'll have a hard time the rest of the interwiew. devil

When it comes to clothing I couldn't care less as long as they are clean and doesn't smell and they're comfortable in them. I mainly meet developers/testers that don't have much contact with external customers which affects this of course.

So, honesty, humour, ability to laugh at yourself is a must for me and after that it's knowledge and skills. Those can be learnt, the first things can't.
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Paul - the
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galad2003 wrote:

WAYS YOU WILL SUCCEED ON INTERVIEWS:
22. Maintain your health, exercise


A lot of lofty words in the list, half of which I think is pure bogus, but things might be different in different countries.

The health part though is interesting though. Normally it shouldn't affect anything, who cares if you're a bit overweight, but even if it's not said outright, who want to hire an obese smoker if someone else is available?

Off the record I'm very reluctant to hire a smoker at all, he or she has to be perfect in more or less all other aspects to even be considered. The constant smoking breaks and the smell is a nightmare at least here in Sweden when it comes to team spirit. Depends on where you work I guess, very few tech people smoke in Sweden. Having worked a lot with companies in Asia where everyone smokes more or less it is of course different there.

Is general health/smoking a factor when hiring in other countries? Curious.
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Ian Klinck
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Do some research about the company beforehand, and ask some questions that show you're at least interested enough about the job to have done so.

We've interviewed people who come into the interviews having no clue what our company does, and they never get called back.

(In fact, it doesn't even matter if the information you found is incorrect or incomplete - the fact that you put in the effort to try to find out about the company is the important thing. My company has a consumer-facing website that is a minuscule portion of our business - most of what we do is actually B2B. A lot of people come into interviews thinking that that website is the core of our business, and that's fine. It's the ones that haven't even bothered to look that far that might as well not show up!)
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Paul DeStefano
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Do NOT eat a banana during the interview.
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howl hollow howl
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casualcasual wrote:
But when they ask about your ability to work with others for example, you respond by saying how well you do in general (i'm really good at encouraging my colleagues) but then provide an example - describe the situation briefly (I had a person on my team who was very disorganised) and then explain what you did about it (I had a quiet conversation with him and we organised a task list for him to be able to tick off).

A good interviewer will already point you in that direction:
Behavioral interview questions often start with phrases like, “Tell me about a time when…” or “Describe a situation in which…” or “Give me an example of…”
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I think I'm repeating some other advice, but look online and be able to respond to the standard interview questions for your industry. If at all possible link them to positive events in your career: gently turn the trick questions to your advantage, but stay on topic! As someone said, don't memorize stories, just bring them to mind so they'll come to mind in the interview. Don't say your greatest weakness is perfectionism--interviewers are tired of hearing that. Here are three questions you're likely to hear, and my answers (which may not be your answers).

What's your greatest weakness?

"I'm pretty obsessive. I control it at work, but I keep thinking about stuff after work: on the drive home, in the shower.... Occasionally, I can use it at work. For example, I once worked on a database that was going to live in a layer-cake of other modules. I realized it would be impossible for quality assurance to know if a bug came from the database or somewhere else, so I obsessed about my module testing plans and automating the testing as much as possible. The database never had a bug in the field, and another company bought it for their project."

What's your greatest strength?

"Options. I always think about alternative ways of doing things. I was doing a design review, and I realized it had a potential performance problem. I did the math to show the problem, but then I started looking for options: I hate presenting a problem without a solution. I found an alternative design that side-stepped the problem with the initial design, and it was adopted."

What's your goal out five years?

"Honestly, my goal is to come into work each day and do the best job I can. I find keeping focus on that leads me to more opportunities than trying to draw a straight line to some long term goal. For example, a friend hired me to do technical support for Marketing. I did all kinds of little tech jobs, and when they launched a new product, I got tapped to support the launch. It overwhelmed the rest of the products."

Once when I was laid off, part of the severance package was interview training coaching. When I did the above to the coach, she lost it, in a good way.
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Matt Brown
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I haven't had the greatest strength/weakness question in ages. It seemed like a typical question a lesser company, think retail, would ask. The eventual better jobs I went for companies wanted to know if I could blend in with their culture.
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Greg Mitchell
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AvidHunter wrote:
Don't take your pant's off unless you think it will really help.


The last job I interviewed for, the first interview was a phone interview, and I made a joke about not wearing any pants...despite later thinking it was very cringe-worthy and a terrible idea, I got the job (or more specifically I got the second interview, and my second interview got me the job.)

I agree that you need to ask good questions and interview the company. That attitude shows that you've got confidence that you have other options. There's nothing attractive about desperation, and my experience is that having confidence goes a long way.

Granted, I'm still with the same company that I started with 16 years ago out of college, so maybe I'm not the most experienced interviewee (the no pants interview was an internal posting 4 years ago.)
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Mystery McMysteryface
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Lots of good advice, so far.

My #1 advice?

Make sure you TURN OFF your phone before you go into the interview!


Also, can't stress enough: professional attire, grooming/shaving, cleanliness of your person and your clothing--clean, ironed, fits you correctly, and is not torn or stained.

My last interview, I typed up a list of accomplishments in my past work (1 page) and handed it out at the interview. A little something extra can give you an edge over other candidates. Depending on the position, I've known folks who've showed a binder with detailed examples of their work and accomplishments at their interview.
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