Objective of the Interview
The Interview Itself
Typical Interview Questions & Responses
Questions For You to Ask
Thank You Letter Components
Dealing with Counteroffers
Eleven Reasons for Rejection
Straight Talk About Business Etiquette
Helpful Business Etiquette Tips
of the Interview
interviewer has just one objective: to decide whether or not to make you
a job offer. While the interviewer will examine your work history and
educational background, your strengths and accomplishments will also be
important criterion. He or she is also interested in evaluating your level
of motivation, values, attitude and personality. In other words, to find
out if you're the right person for the job, what your potential is for
promotion and whether or not you will fit into the company environment.
it's true that an interview is an important screening tool for companies,
it also allows you to learn those things you need to know about the position
and the company so that you can make an intelligent decision about the
job. Always approach an interview focused on your objective: first determine
if you want the job - and then if you do - get an offer.
with many situations, preparation is the key to success. The job market
is very competitive and you probably will not be the only qualified candidate
for a position. The deciding factor may simply be the way you present
your skills and qualifications relevant to the position and how well you
conduct yourself during the interview.
Recent statistics have shown that 80% of the time the person who receives
the offer is less qualified for the position than others who also interviewed
for the same position. Interviewing is a skill and like any skill the
more you practice and the better prepared you are - the better chance
you have for success.
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you honestly visualize resigning from your current position? (See "Dealing
are your strengths? What are your weaknesses?
are your short and long-term goals?
yourself in terms of the position you seek.
responses by asking the question: "Why should they hire me?"
that you're there to sell yourself and secure a job offer.
Research the Company
the library to review annual reports, trade magazines and newspaper
Internet offers a wealth of company information and industry statistics.
the company's products and services.
prepared to tell the interviewer why their company is attractive to
Items to Bring to the Interview
three former supervisors who are familiar with your work.
their name and company as well as home and work phone numbers.
consult with references for their approval and to ensure that their
remarks are positive.
your resume thoroughly and be prepared to discuss all points.
bring a resume copy identical to the one supplied to the interviewer.
along samples of your work, if possible. Never discuss or show proprietary
a folder and pen to the interview to jot down notes.
and review your questions as well as the interviewer's phone number
in case you're running late.
along your recruiter's phone number to give immediate feedback after
Arrival at the Interview
no earlier than fifteen minutes before the interview (but no later than
five minutes prior to the interview).
adequate time for traffic, parking and a last minute appearance check.
If possible, scout out the location the day before the interview to
avoid last minute problems.
your notes and go in with confidence.
asked, complete an application. Complete the application in full and
leave no blanks. Do not write, "see resume" as a response
to any application question. Respond to "expected salary"
question as "open" and "current salary" questions
truthfully. List references if requested. Your recruiter's name should
be your response to any "referred by" questions.
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should be short and clean; manicured if possible.
should be clean, well groomed and freshly trimmed. Use a dandruff shampoo,
if necessary, and always comb hair with your jacket off.
navy blue or dark gray suit is appropriate for most positions. Be sure
it's cleaned and pressed. Men with stout builds should avoid three-piece
should be white, freshly laundered and well pressed.
quiet tie with a subtle design and a hint of red is suitable for a first
interview. Avoid loud colors and busy designs.
should be kept minimal. A watch and wedding or class ring is acceptable.
It is best to avoid wearing jewelry or pins that indicate membership
in religious or service organizations. The key is to not create distractions
or concerns that would not be otherwise.
deodorant. Avoid colognes or fragrances. If you must use them, use a
very light fragrance as to not be overpowering. Remember a fragrance
can be distracting whether it is extremely liked or disliked.
that are black and freshly polished (including the heels) are a safe
choice for an interview.
should be black or blue and worn over the calf.
good posture cross legs at the ankles, not at the knees.
good eye contact.
not take portable phones or beepers into an interview.
should be clean; manicured if possible. Choose subtle low-key colors
over bright fashion colors for nail polishes.
a suit or tailored dress in basic navy or gray. Blouses should also
be tailored and color coordinated. Don't wear big bows or ties.
exotic hairstyles and excessive makeup. Hair should be neat, clean and
brushed with your jacket off. Makeup should be light and natural looking.
deodorant and avoid colognes or fragrances.
should be limited and subtle. Don't wear jewelry or pins that indicate
membership in religious or service organizations.
closed toe pump that is color coordinated with your outfit is appropriate
for an interview. Avoid open-toed shoes or sling-backs.
good posture cross legs at the ankles, not at the knees.
good eye contact.
not take portable phones or beepers into an interview.
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typical sequence of events are:
with personnel (General questions. Review of the company and their benefits.)
with the immediate supervisor and peers.
with the hiring authority (manager, etc.).
hands firmly and maintain eye contact with
a high energy level. Sit up with back straight.
coffee (to spill) and no smoking.
It is to your advantage if a subject of mutual interest arises, but
do not fake knowledge. Be yourself. Poise, confidence, and self-respect
are of great importance.
there is interest on both parties:
(physical drug test, written test, and proof of employment eligibility).
(HR) will usually provide company information and available benefits.
Thorough review and questions concerning benefits should be addressed
after the interview. Remember, the interviewers are trying to see how
you can contribute to the company. Let your recruiter deal with the concerns
and/or questions your have about benefits.
yourself with confidence and determination to get the job. You have other
options, of course, and your interviewer knows this, but they want to
think that you want a job with this company. Don't play coy. Sell yourself.
This is your first meeting and the position, as well as promotions, may
depend on your presentation. Are you going to sell them on the idea of
hiring you, or will they sell you on the idea that this job is not for
you? You must present a positive attitude to the prospective employer.
You must NOT seem disinterested or appear to be job shopping. The interview
should be a two-way conversation. Ask questions of the interviewers. This
shows your interest in the company and the position, and enables you to
gather the right information to make an intelligent decision afterwards.
The questions you have prepared can be asked to the different people you
the objective of the interview is to obtain an offer. During the interview,
you must gather enough information concerning the position to make a decision.
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Interview Questions & Responses
should give complete but brief and relaxed answers to questions. When
possible use questions as a basis for developing information that you
want to make sure is presented. Continue to sell yourself in a positive
jobs in terms of duties and give indicators of good performance such
as raises, sales volume, and promotions.
short stories involving problems or challenges and how you were able
to solve or overcome them. Describe the results you achieved (see PAS
worksheet on page 14).
Exploring your Background Questions
me about yourself.
these questions in terms of the qualifications required of the position.
responses concise and brief and avoid being derogatory or negative about
previous jobs and bosses.
means, "Tell me about your qualifications." Prepare a one
to two minute discussion of your qualifications. Start with education
and discuss your experiences. Describe your performance (in raises,
promotions, innovative designs, sales volume, increased profits, etc.)
are your greatest strengths?
like to hear abstract qualities. Loyalty, willingness to work hard,
eagerness, fast-learner, technical skills, politeness, and promptness,
expressed in concrete terms are good examples. Avoid the simple generalization
"I like people". It's not a good answer.
are your greatest weaknesses?
be intimidated. The interviewer probably wants reassurance that hiring
you won't be a mistake. This is not the time to confess all of your
imperfections. (Do not state "not being able to go to work on Mondays",
or "coming in late", etc.). Present your weaknesses as professional
strengths, (i.e., "Sometimes work too hard to make sure things
are done accurately").
do you do in your spare time?
are not always the best employees. Present yourself as a well-rounded
person. Your answer gives you dimension. Name some hobbies.
motive questions enthusiastically. Show the interviewer that you are interested
in the position and that you really want the job. Remember to maintain
eye contact and be sincere.
can you contribute to this company?
positive and sell! Bringing strong technical skills, enthusiasm, and
desire to complete projects correctly and efficiently are good responses.
should I hire you for this position?
your qualifications and how they "fit" the available position.
Address your interest in the job and the field and why it's work that
you enjoy. Emphasize your ability to successfully perform the duties
do you want to work for our firm?
a compliment about what the company does, its location, or its people.
Other positive remarks might be about the company's product or service,
content of the position or possibilities for growth or advancement.
Research about the company is important here.
do you hope to be in five years?
conversation on growth positions that clearly show you plan to be there
in five years, and that their investment in you will pay. Be sure that
you know what can and cannot be achieved by the ideal candidate in the
position. Never tell the interviewer that you feel you'll be more successful
than they are. But do show a strong desire for promotions.
interests you most about this position?
the interviewer with a truthful one or two-word answer such as, "the
challenge" or "the opportunity", will force them to ask
you to explain. Here again, you have a chance to demonstrate your knowledge
of the company.
long do you plan to be with this company?
with marriage, most employers expect a till-death-do-us-part attitude,
but they can be equally attracted to the candidate with ambition and
candor. "As long as I continue to learn and grow in my field",
is a reasonable response.
are your career goals? (Your answer should depend on a specific time frame:)
term - "I want to be the best in my current position, while learning
additional responsibilities. This, in itself, will assure my commitment
to the firm and raise me to the next level of responsibility and promotion.
I see myself wanting to stay technical but learn the necessary skills
to lead people and projects."
term - "After proving my abilities, I see myself in a firm with
the possibility of moving into a level of management that allows me
to keep my skills sharp."
are you doing to achieve your goals?
look at continued learning as the key to success. I continue my education,
as you see from my resume, by taking company educational courses, when
offered, and college courses. I also read trade publications and magazines
to keep me informed about the current and future directions in my field.
When possible, I participate in professional organizations in my field."
Job Satisfaction Questions
did you leave your previous employer?
speak poorly about a former employer. Be pleasant, be positive and be
honest. Your answer will probably be checked. Mention your desire to
work for a more progressive company that offers more growth opportunities
did you like most about your previous job? What did you like least about
your previous job?
employer can evaluate the type of worker you will be by the items you
choose. Cite specifics. You are also providing clues about the environment
you seek. What you liked most can include a strong teamwork atmosphere,
high-level of creativity, attainable deadlines. What you like least
should include any situations that you are unlikely to encounter in
your new position.
are you looking for another job?
be positive. "I have to say that I have really enjoyed my years
at _____Corporation. There are a lot of good people over there. But
I am looking for a team to join where I can make real contributions
and advance my career."
do you think your employer's obligations are to you?
listen for employees who want a positive, enthusiastic, company atmosphere,
with the opportunity to advance. Such a person, they surmise, has motivation
and staying power.
you applying for any other jobs?
your answer, show that your search is geared for similar positions.
This demonstrates a well-defined, focused objective. Make it known that
your talents are applicable to other businesses and that you have explored
ways to maximize your potential and are serious about finding the perfect
opportunity. Don't give an indication that you are just shopping.
Past performance Questions (To determine behavior based on past examples)
kinds of decisions are most difficult for you?
be truthful and admit not everything comes easily. Be careful what you
do admit so as not to instantly disqualify yourself. Explain that you
try to gather as much information and advice as you can to make the
best decision possible.
causes you to lose your temper?
has a low boiling point on some particular issue. Pick one of yours;
something safe and reasonable. People who are late to meetings, blame
shifting, broken appointments and office "back-stabbing" are
suitable responses. Don't say that you never fly off the handle. You
won't be believed.
are your greatest accomplishments?
one or two stories that demonstrate strong capabilities or achievements
that will make you attractive to your new employer. A special project
that you pioneered at your previous job, cutting department expenses,
increasing productivity or receiving frequent promotions are a few examples.
do you feel about a younger male/female boss?
question like this usually means that your boss will either be younger
or of the opposite sex or both. Be certain that if you register any
concern, you will probably not be hired. Explain that their age or sex
is of no importance to you. You are only interested in their capability
and what you can learn from them.
kind of worker are you?
no one is perfect. Showing that you tackle every assignment with all
of your energy and talents is admirable but mention that you also learn
from your mistakes.
discussions should be avoided, if possible.
type of salary do you have in mind?
not state a starting figure. A suitable reply: "I am looking for
the right opportunity and I am confident that if you find me the best
candidate for this position, you will extend me your best and most fair
is your current salary?
truthfully. Remember that "salary" includes base, bonuses,
commissions, benefits, and vacations as well as sick days and personal
days. Also, if you are due a raise in the next three months, state the
approximate percentage you expect.
Other questions you should be prepared to answer truthfully:
you willing to relocate?
May we check your references?
May we verify your income?
a question to the best of your ability and then relax. If there is a
period of silence before the interviewer asks the next question, stay
calm. Interviewers often use silence to see if you can handle stress
and maintain poise.
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For You to Ask
interview, however, should be a two-way conversation. You must ask questions
and take an active role in the interview. This demonstrates the importance
you place on your work and career. Asking questions gives you a chance
to demonstrate your depth of knowledge in the field as well as to establish
an easy flow of conversation and relaxed atmosphere between you and the
interviewer. Building this kind of rapport is always a plus in an interview.
you are not just there for the interviewer to determine if you are right
for the position but your questions can help you determine if this job
is right for you. Some of your questions should evolve from research you've
done on the company in preparing for the interview. Following are some
guidelines for your questions as well as some examples.
cross-examine the employer.
questions requiring an explanation. Questions that can be answered with
a "yes" or "no" are conversation stoppers.
interrupt when the employer is answering YOUR question.
job-relevant questions. Focus on the job - the company, products, services,
to the interview, write your list of Interest Questions and take them
about your potential peers, subordinates, and superiors. Take notes.
the employer how he/she got where they are today.
do you want someone for this job?
the interviewer to explain why this job can't be done by one of his
current employees. The answer may give you a valuable description.
Job Satisfaction Questions
questions that relate to the responsibilities, importance and authority
of the position as well as those investigating the rewards for a job well
done and the long-range career opportunities.
Past Performance Questions
isn't this position being filled from within the company?
may discover that nobody in this organization would accept it or that
your future fellow employees are a weak lot.
many people have held this job in the last five years?
they promoted or did they leave the company?
the turnover has been high, you have a right to suspect that the job
may leave something to be desired. Or it could mean that you can expect
to be promoted quickly.
did you get started in the company?
good way to get to know the interviewer better and gain insight into
the promotional path the company follows.
are examples of the best results produced by people in this job?
you may discover you are overqualified or in a position to ask for considerably
would my responsibilities and duties be?
are the most difficult aspects of the position?
a typical day on the job.
the department's/company's growth in the next 2 years.
is the philosophy on training and development here?
there been downsizing within the company? How is it handled?
do you think I'd fit into the job and into your organization?
projects would I be involved in now? In the future?
would I be working for? With?
is the person doing who used to hold this position?
would you need me to start?
I see my work area?
I meet some of my future co-workers?
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you are sincerely interested in the position and are satisfied with the
answers given, you should ask the interviewer if he/she feels that you
are qualified for the position. This gives you another chance to review
points that may need clarification. Illustrate confidence in your abilities
and convince the interviewer that you are capable of handling the position
for the job. Make a positive statement about the position. Emphasize that
this is exactly the type of opportunity you've been looking for and would
like to be offered the position. Ask when you should expect an answer.
A typical conclusion might be:
you for this meeting, ______. I like what I've heard today and I'd like
to join your team. I know I'd be an asset to you/your department because
you need someone who can ____, ____, and ____. As you know, I have (match
your qualifications with the employer's "hot buttons"). Before
I leave, do you have any more questions about my background or qualifications
or can I supply you with any more information? On a scale of 1 to 5, how
do I compare to the other candidates you've interviewed? I can start as
soon as you need me." The farewell would also include a smile, direct
eye contact, a firm but gentle handshake.
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You Letter Components
following the interview, call your employment recruiter. It is important
to convey your impressions of the position and the company. Let the recruiter
know whether you are interested in the position or not and if there were
questions you forgot to ask at the interview, express them at this time.
Only after we get your feedback about the interview and the company, do
we contact the employer for theirs. And finally, we follow-up with you
regarding the employer's thoughts.
is always a good idea to send a short note of appreciation to thank the
employer or interviewer for their time. Reiterate your interest in the
position and the company as well as your ability to do the job. Be sure
to mail your correspondence the following day. This is a good way to keep
your name current in the interviewer's mind. Following is a sample thank-you
can adapt to fit your specifics:
full company name and address (no abbreviations) as well as the full
name of the interviewer and his/her complete title.
Interview for the Position of (title) on (date)." This illustrates
the content of the letter.
Mr./Ms." "Mrs. or Miss" should not be used unless you
are sure that person does so. Do not use a first name in the greeting
unless you have established a strong rapport.
our discussion, and the fine reputation of your organization, it appears
that the (title) position would enable me to fully use my background
was particularly impressed with the professionalism evident throughout
my visit. (Company) appears to have the kind of environment I have been
atmosphere at (company) seems to strongly favor individual involvement,
and I would undoubtedly be able to contribute significantly to its goals."
I have been considering other opportunities, I have deferred a decision
until I hear from you. Therefore, your prompt reply would be greatly
an exciting opportunity, and I look forward to hearing your decision
(title) position and (company) are exactly what I have been seeking,
and I hope to hear from you within the next week."
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a job is never easy. Career changes are tough enough and the anxieties
of leaving a comfortable job, friends and environment for an unknown opportunity
can easily cloud anyone's judgment. But what should you do when your current
employer "muddies the waters" even more by asking you to stay.
counteroffer is an inducement from your current employer to get you to
stay after you've announced your intentions to accept another job elsewhere.
And, in recent years, counter-offers have practically become the norm.
you are considering a counteroffer, remain focused on your primary objectives.
Why were you looking for another job to begin with? If an employee is
happy with their current job, employer and/or salary, they're usually
not paving the road with resumes. So, often times a counteroffer that
promises more money never really remedies the real reasons for wanting
to move on in the first place.
from a short-term bandage on the problem, nothing will change within the
company and when the dust settles you can find yourself back in the same
rut. Recruiters report that more than 80% of those who accept counteroffers
leave, begin looking for another job, or are "let go" within
six to twelve months after announcing their intentions.
Counteroffers are certainly flattering and make an employee question their
initial decision to leave. But often times they are merely stall tactics
used by bosses and companies to alleviate the upheaval a departing employee
can cause. High turnover also brings a boss's management skills into question.
His reaction is to do what's necessary until he's better prepared to replace
things they'll say: "You can't leave, the department really needs
you." "We were just about to give you a raise." "I
didn't know you were unhappy. Why didn't you come to me sooner? What can
we do to make things better?"
stay focused on your decision and your opportunities. You need to ask
kind of company do you work for if you have to threaten to resign before
they pay you what you're worth?
did the money for the counter-offer come from?
it your next raise of promotion just given early?
future opportunities limited now?
you have to threaten to leave again for another raise or promotion?
demonstrated your unhappiness and will be viewed as having committed blackmail
in order to get a raise. Your loyalty will also be questioned come promotion
companies rarely make counteroffers since they view their employment policies
as fair and equitable.
you do consider being "bought back", obtain the details of the
offer in writing, as well as a one-year "no cut" contract from
the employer. If they refuse, as two-thirds of counter offering employers
do, your decision to leave is made.
at your current job and the new position as if you were unemployed, and
then make your decision based on which holds the most real potential.
It's probably the new job or you wouldn't have accepted it in the first
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Reasons for Rejection
Poor attitude. Many candidates come across as arrogant. While employers
can afford to be self-centered, candidates cannot.
Appearance. Many candidates do not consider their appearance as much as
they should. First impressions are quickly made in the first three minutes.
Review the appearance checklist.
Lack of research. It's obvious when candidates haven't learned about the
job, company or industry prior to the interview. Visit the library or
use the Internet to research the company, then talk with friends, peers
and other professionals about the opportunity before each meeting.
Not having questions to ask. Asking questions shows your interest in the
company and the position. Prepare a list of intelligent questions in advance.
Not readily knowing the answers to interviewer's questions. Anticipate
and rehearse answers to tough questions about your background, such as
a recent termination or an employment gap. Practicing with your spouse
or a friend before the interview will help you to frame intelligent responses.
Relying too much on resumes. Employers hire people, not paper. Although
a resume can list qualifications and skills, it's the interview dialogue
that will portray you as a committed, responsive team player.
Too much humility. Being conditioned not to brag, candidates are sometimes
reluctant to describe their accomplishments. Explaining how you reach
difficult or impressive goals helps employers understand what you can
do for them.
Not relating to employers' needs. A list of sterling accomplishments means
little if you can't relate them to a company's requirements. Reiterate
your skills and convince the employer that you can "do the same for
Handling salary issues ineptly. Candidates often ask about salary and
benefit packages too early. If they believe an employer is interested,
they may demand inappropriate amounts and price themselves out of the
jobs. Candidates who ask for too little undervalue themselves or appear
Lack of career direction. Job hunters who aren't clear about their career
goal often can't spot or commit to appropriate opportunities.
Not knowing what you want wastes everyone's time.
Job shopping. Some applicants, particularly those in certain high-tech,
sales and marketing fields, will admit they're just "shopping"
for opportunities and have little intention of changing jobs. This wastes
time and leaves a bad impression with employers they may need to contact
in the future.
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Talk About Business Etiquette
is business etiquette? It is knowing and observing the rules of conduct
that will maintain good relations with others without offending the other
person. It applies to what you say, what you do, and how you look. It
also covers what you don't do or say.
is not a "fluffy" practice. Rather, it is a business-building
concept of putting human values back into the workplace. A positive, professional
image is critical in building rapport, the "fundamental compatibility"
that influences the subconscious decision processes of others.
does business etiquette include? Management consultants recommend that
we understand behavior expectations in the following areas: networking,
office meetings, traveling, dining with clients, and telecommunications,
including both phone and e-mail.
all face-to-face interactions-whether in the workplace or at a social
occasion-first impressions are critical. Etiquette is especially important
in early stages of a relationship. Experts say that most people decide
to establish an ongoing relationship or not in the first four minutes
they spend with someone.
etiquette seems like common sense. Unfortunately, it is not common practice.
Rarely are "good manners" part of a job description, but they
are critical in efforts to win and keep friends and business associates.
Business manners are indeed the ultimate customer service tool.
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Business Etiquette Tips
a telephone call as you would a letter; begin by identifying yourself
and your reason for calling.
your voice clearly into the phone.
a person on hold if you have initiated the call. You are obligated to
complete it without interruption.
to leave your phone number on a voice message even if you "know"
the person has your number. Make certain that you do not speak too quickly
when giving your number.
voice mail messages lasting more than three minutes.
that dress impacts the seriousness with which you are taken; different
levels of dress command different levels of respect. Wear clothing that
is not overly provocative in the normal business environment.
excessive jewelry or fragrance with business attire.
business cards as gifts; instead of merely dealing them out, offer them
as a personal means of communication.
on cards in front of the giver; this is like defacing a gift. You should
write notes about the function and information requests once you have
left the event.
earlier than guests you have invited, and plan to pay the check.
it is okay to chew while others are talking.
something that doesn't drip or flake easily.
before guests arrive, nor leave before waiting for late guests at least
distracted by the relaxed atmosphere, and be careful of engaging in
a lunch to last more than 1 ½ hours; people have work to do,
and the days of the three-hour lunch are gone.
agendas to attendees 24 hours in advance.
the starting time, nor allow the meeting to last longer than scheduled.
a cellular phone ring in the middle of a meeting, and do not make matters
worse by answering a phone.
e-mail frequently and respond within 24-36 hours.
your messages short, usually no more than two paragraphs.
your tone of language; e-mail lacks the verbal cues of face-to face
asterisks for emphasis, rather than all capitals, which is considered
confidential, insulting or slanderous information or any material you
would not like made public.
e-mail for political or individual personal gain.
too informal. Use Standard English, and think of it as relaxed.
Find out who will be attending a gathering; plan objectives; do relevant
reading so you will have worthwhile ideas to share.
with the idea that everyone has something to teach you.
yourself with a one-line description of your business.
your nametag on your right shoulder; that is the natural place for people
to look when they shake your hand.
Discuss appropriate business issues and find complimentary things to
say about others' accomplishments.
for people you already know. Aim to meet at least three new people.
more than three or four minutes with a new acquaintance, monopolizing
his or her time, unless it is clear that additional time is mutually
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