Personality Test

How To Pass A Career Personality Test

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Dear CAREEREALISM,

I’m applying for a position and I really want this job. The company requires applicants to complete a Kronos personality test. What can I do to make sure I give the right answers that will land me an interview for the job?

Here’s how I responded…

I did some research on Kronos Workforce (it absorbed Unicru) and found the test is used to identify people whose reported personality traits match the characteristics identified by the employer as critical to the job. I also found an answer key (that may be outdated now) through Google search.

It does appear to assess personality traits and values, and I can see how the test would give an employer some idea of how one might make decisions, set priorities, operate in the work world, and fit into an existing culture.

Want To Get Hired? Go For The GREEN!

Satisfied employers (CVS is one) say successful employees – meaning I suppose those who match the company’s culture, meet performance expectations, and stay for a long time – are those who get a “green” rating from the test. People with “yellow” ratings are rarely interviewed and only if there is a staffing crunch. People with “red” ratings are not interviewed because they are viewed as a poor match and unacceptable risk.

It makes sense for companies to use these tests, even if they are not perfect. Companies spend a lot of time and money on recruiting and training staff, so they seek ways to ensure those resources are invested wisely.

If You Don’t Get Picked, You Were Probably Better Off

I think it makes sense for you to use whatever information you get from taking the tests and then getting or not getting interviews. If you are honest with your answers and don’t get interviewed, it is possible you would not have been happy in that job anyway.

I’m sure it’s possible to game the tests, to figure out what characteristics are most likely to be suitable for the job you want. I wonder why you would want to do that, though?

How To Pass A Career Personality Test

Why do you want this position? What are the skills and attributes of the best people in this type of job? Who do you admire, who is well-known in this field? What are their characteristics?  How do they behave? What choices do they make in any given situation? Use your common sense to determine the attributes and characteristics of the best talent and the most valued employees.

Then be honest with yourself. Do you have those qualities? If so, then the test should reveal that. If not, then maybe it’s time for you to consider another line of work. Or perhaps there are some ways you want to grow and change so you become a more attractive candidate.

Do I think the tests are infallible?

Of course not.

Yet, I do think there are nuggets of information contained in them you can use to your future advantage as you look for your “right fit” work.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Julia Erickson

Julia's coaching is based on her 30 years experience in senior management positions in the non-profit industry in New York City, 12 of them as CEO.

46 comments

  1. despite of all the doubts and arguments, more and more employers are using pre-employment personality tests to screen out job applicants, many of them failed the tests simply because they did not know how to handle the tests. One excellent source I found out to prepare yourself with real questions used by employers is http://www.acejobtest.com.

    • Thanks for sharing that tool Lily! Have you found any other sources or habits that help you prepare for tasks in the job search process?

  2. I just applied for a mail sorter post office job. It had me take a 150 question test. I was honest and answered them quickly like it said. I got the results and it says I am Ineligible for EVERY JOB that the US Postal Service has. WTF?

    At the start of the test it asked me my race and age. I am starting to believe the poster above is correct in their opinion that it just gives them some “scientific” reason to discriminate against you for whatever reason they don’t want you. I think the reason I’m ineligible for ANY post office job is because I answered 50-59 for age, rather than the milquetoast answers I gave on the “test”.

    Are there seriously supposed to be people out there that have NEVER gotten angry in their lives or who could possibly say they ENJOY being several different tasks to do at once and enjoy STRESS?

    Sorry, I think they are liars if they say that

  3. I just applied for a mail sorter post office job. It had me take a 150 question test. I was honest and answered them quickly like it said. I got the results and it says I am Ineligible for EVERY JOB that the US Postal Service has. WTF?

    At the start of the test it asked me my race and age. I am starting to believe the poster above is correct in their opinion that it just gives them some “scientific” reason to discriminate against you for whatever reason they don’t want you. I think the reason I’m ineligible for ANY post office job is because I answered 50-59 for age, rather than the milquetoast answers I gave on the “test”.

  4. thank you orange… I was hoping someone would say what you said. Some people get lucky to be paid for something they really enjoy and would otherwise do for 40+ hours a week for free. Most of us wouldn’t do anything for 40+ hours without monetary benefit, much less the jobs we actually have. If I wasn’t paid for what I do, I’d probably spend 5-10 hours a month doing it anyway, so I feel lucky to at least do something remotely similar to my interests. However after an average 48 hr work week, I never end up getting to my own projects because I am tired of that type of activity.

  5. I,m sorry but these tests are nothing more than junk, I have been in my field for 15 years and now I have been turned down for over 50 jobs in the same field due to these tests.
    When I hired people in my last position I never did it over the phone or internet, it was always in person to meet and understand the person looking for a job. Most of the people I hired knew nothing about the job but guess what….. 5 years later and they still work there.

    • You are right. They are junk and a waste of time. I can’t stand the attitude that if you are looking for a job then you must have the time to answer hundreds of mundane, irrational, impractical, nothing to do with the job you will be doing type questions. They are meant for companies to find the right person who will WOW! them in their greedy make-believe world of perfection. The questions don’t match real people. If everyone was actually like the perfect score (color) person, they would be annoying, obnoxious, self-centered, pushy, and psychotic. I never liked those types of sales people and I never wanted to be like them and I resent companies that try to push you into that way. Most companies think the only way to have a successful company is to have all extra-extrovert people and any other types will drag them down. There are studies out now that show that introverts (if we have to be called that) are also very beneficial to companies but these tests aren’t designed to include them. It makes you feel like a bad person when you are practically forced to lie on these questions because you are desperate for a job or feel bad for not getting picked when you do answer honestly. It’s the same at the face-to-face interviews. It’s all just a stupid game that I am tired of playing.

      • “If everyone was actually like the perfect score (color) person, they would be annoying, obnoxious, self-centered, pushy, and psychotic.”

        ROTFL You made my day! I don’t know whether you were trying to be funny, but that was hilarious. I am fascinated with personality types and traits. I like to think of different ones having different strengths and weaknesses, but all equally good. It doesn’t seem right to discriminate like that. I was turned down from a job specifically because I didn’t pass the test. So I need to know more about how to pass them. I’m an introvert. Sadly employers seem to prefer extraverts. Pointing to an extravert’s weaknesses backfires in an amusing way. I best understand extraverts as people who easily get bored so they actively seek stimulation. It can be problematic if taken too far. For example one can’t even go to the bathroom, without crying in loneliness. I guess the strengths of introverts include handling solitude well and not annoying other people to death.

    • I agree with you Bill. I have been in my industry for 20+ years, and I know how to do the jobs I’ve bee apply for very well. I had a phone interview with a company who gave me a vocabulary test , words used in my industry, and asked me the meaning of each of them, which I passed! I thought to myself ok, I guess that was necessary and thought the next step was a face to face interview, NOT! The interviewer to me now I would have to take an assessment test that would include: math, reading, writing, and data entry and the test would take 4Hrs…………seriously!! How long will these companies toss great future employees aside due to their idiotic test until they realize what a big mistake! These company are becoming like kids playing videos games all day to grow up with no interpersonal skills maybe they should be given an assessment test.

  6. Real is real so if am seeking a job which is interested but i will fail because of personality test then i have to cheat but no days these tests are becoming more relabel i am also creating one and in this time i am working to make it reliable and more secure and my goal is to make it good and secure.
    I have not published it yet but it will be published at http://aboutmental.com/personality-test/ it is a better idea to review the results menualy so this test will be reviewed by my employs after a client submitted the test. I will inform you when i will make it public.
    thanks

  7. No amount of BS’ing will even work because the questions don’t even mean what they say. It is impossible to understand what some of these questions are asking you – the questions get more and more ridiculous as time passes. I think that this is some sort of covert way to legally discriminate against people based on other factors because they always ask for your social security number. There is no way to prove that this isn’t happening.

  8. Unicru/Kronos should be burnt to the ground along with all their BS “scientists” inside.

    If the end times happen and they are asked what did you you before the CHANGE they deserve to get lynched along with all those rich company bigwigs.

    There is no “correct” personality I don’t need a job that requires this nonsense test of irritation!

    Dr. David Scarborough is a quack just like those TV infomercials trying to sell you a cure or those get rich quick schemes by reading my book of garbage.

  9. IQ tests are bunk! They do not reveal how smart a person is! And these tests are dumb. Probably created by women and beareacrats. In the good ‘ol days, you could just go into a place and say you would like a job. If you weren’t a psychopath or looked horrible, they would interview you, and probably hire you. Why all this stuff for crummy jobs that don’t pay anything- like Walmart? ANY MONKEY could do these jobs. Its pathetic.

  10. I was recently offered a job after TWO interviews. After accepting the job, I was notified 48 hours later that I had to take a 50 question test. The think was emailed to me by the hiring manager and I took it. I’ve taken them a million times and have never had an issue before. Shortly after I received a phone call from the hiring manager telling me I didn’t pass and that I couldn’t be hired, but he would contact HR and see what he could do. I think that it is wrong and discrimination. I was offered the job based on my resume me and interviews (with both the manager and the executive chef) to have the offer revoked over failing a test. You cannot fail a test on your personality…. thats all opinions.

  11. I’ve taken the Starbucks test twice and gotten no response. My answers seemed appropriate for what the company presumably is seeking, I’m a competent, good-natured person who’d be a loyal employee, so what am I missing? I really would like to work at Starbucks, but I need a test-taking strategy so at least I can get an interview. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Pat

    • Patricia,

      They wanted to hire me at a Starbucks nearby. I had already spoken with the manager and they needed another employee, but I failed the test and they couldn’t hire me even though they wanted to hire me. I still don’t understand what I possibly could have done wrong on the test. The problem with these tests is that no one except for the company issuing the tests really knows what the “right” answers are and there is no way to know how they are reading your answers. Many of the questions are totally up to interpretation and what they are thinking could be totally different from what you think that they are thinking. It is a serious issue and something needs to be done about it. I strongly encourage you to contact the EEOC and write your congressman. You might even want to consider contacting the ACLU to see if they have any resources available.

      • These assessment tests are an absolute (and I believe discriminatory) JOKE! Some of the questions you have NO idea what they are looking for as being the right answer. I don’t have a two cent head …like some of their employeees. Anyway, what is pathetic is say you walk in to one of these corporate establishment who is hiring. You are bubbly, out-going and certainly qualified for the job and have a good conversation with the manager! That doesn’t mean ANYTHING! They will tell you that you have to apply online (which is usually an hour minimum) and if you pass the test they will get handed down names to interview. This needs to be stopped! Tons of well-qualified and great people aren’t getting jobs because of these ridiculous assessments! For those of you who went through this and got a job…good for you!

  12. My friend took the Kalamazoo public safety officer exam and got a 100. He claims he “channeled Robocop,” – acted like a real hardazz with no sympathy for anyone. Thought like a robot and nailed it! Hahahaha!

  13. I guess it’s a good thing I’ve never had to take one of these tests. Since I’ve been running my own business for the past 15 years, and have an aversion to having a boss and having to wear a suit, I would probably never even get called in. As a business owner though I must say that I have only hired people after really getting to know their personality. Hiring an employee is a huge deal for a small business owner. I need to be very sure they are the right person for the job. This is why it’s better to network. Let them see you in action over a period of time and prove that you are the one.

  14. I really hate those tests. I mean I feel as tough some of these jobs are just dead-end jobs anyway, so why use the personality test in the first place? And when I walk inside these fast food restaurants and see some of the workers, I’m thinking to myself, “How did they get a job over me?”

    • Marcus,

      I feel you on that, haha. It confuses me, too. You know what else bothers me? The fact that it takes me nearly 45 minutes or longer to submit an application to get a minimum wage job. There simply isn’t enough time in the day to apply for jobs anymore. When it is already so difficult to get the jobs that you apply for, you begin to wonder why you should even bother with filling out an application that wastes an hour of your day. Since Kronos/Unicru is already creating a database of your information and quiz scores, I don’t understand why you can’t use the same application blank answers to file multiple applications at once. It’s as if this system is designed to drive people insane.

  15. These applications are so dumb and are a waste of the applicants time. There is no way at all to even know if the employer even received the application, or is even hiring. If you go to the stores and talk to the manager in person, they’ll just tell you to apply online then probably never look at the application. If they’re not hiring, they should just say that they’re not hiring instead of telling applicants to take 45 minutes to complete an assessment that will never be seen. This is the worst possible way to hire people, you would think that people these days were intelligent enough to know that no one is even honest on these tests. And the “key words” that they use are complete bullsh!t. Most of the time online applications, unlike written ones, require job experience and rule out anyone who hasn’t had any. So if you never had a job, you can’t get one because you don’t have the “experience” key word these stupid computers look for.

  16. I recently took one of these tests and I am flabbergasted as well. First, the position is for an adjunct teacher, so before anyone says that these are great tests to see how I would do on the job. I actually came in and did a “practice” teach where I showed them that I can handle the job and prepare a lecture, deliver it, and all that jazz. So at the last possible moment I have to rush into the office for the formality of taking this “personality” test. And all that talk about it not having a right or wrong answer is bogus, if it can stand in between a job that I know I can do and would be very happy in.

  17. Hey there,

    I was reading some of these comments and had to post one of my own. I have recently been seeing a career coach, who is also an HR manager and certified counsilor, and I am trying to attempt to uncover what I should be doing for the rest of my life.

    At 35, I am sick of doing customer service/admin type jobs in the financial services industry. I have taken some of these same types of tests in an effort to uncover different personality traits. I don’t know what tests you guys have had to take, but I have taken the true colors testing and also disc testing. To tell you the truth, I think the results do describe my personality a lot. I’m not saying an employer should only rely on these tests, they should at least also interview candidates they feel they are interested in, but I think the tests can provide some insight if they are taken honestly. I have actually had a lot of fun talking with my career coach, but then again for me there is not a job riding on this stuff either. :)

    I am sure that would change things up a bit when dealing with these tests. You know, I will never accept the fact I should just be happy to have a job, I don’t care how bad the economy is, it will always have it ups and downs and that is not going to decide my destiny. I really think the key is getting an education is something in demand that you enjoy and that is part of what I am exploring – what to return to school for. I have a bachelors already, but in journalism, which is useless to me at least.

    There are many websites that have practice personality tests, the disc and true color one I know are online, it might be worth it to try to explore some test taking on your own to see what these tests are all about and it may help you to at least learn what employers are looking for and how to master the tests.

  18. I tested for a clerical position today ($11 an hour, no benefits, no set hours) and was just told that while I aced the actual skills tests at 100%, I made a 3.6 on the personality (scale of 5) and wouldn’t be considered. I’m qualified, college educated, and open to the crazy schedule – but they’re not going forward with the interview because of this ridiculous test. I’m flabbergasted.

    • File a complaint with the EEOC.

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/8448309502/

      Join this Facebook group. Get the word out. These personality tests, which disqualify perfectly good applicants, are discriminatory in a number of ways. This is the only way that we will be able to do something about this. I remain unemployed because of these tests. We have to make people realize that these tests are weeding out perfectly capable, honest, and reliable workers.

      • Wrong.

        They’re years ahead of you and have been proven to be non-discriminatory. They’ve already been challenged by large labor unions, well-represented minority groups, etc.

        You’re taking them on anyway, huh. Lone gunman in the bushes! At least it will give you something to do eh marianna. hahaha

        • If they are years ahead of me, show me the proof. I have done a lot of research and I have not found anything that legitimizes these tests. Furthermore, the questions on some of these tests are so subjective that it is difficult to answer them, especially if you are more insightful. On many occassions, I have been given questions that could be interpreted in two TOTALLY different ways.

          By the way, “Pablo Nunez,” I already have enough to do. I think that going to school full-time, working, and volunteering keeps me busy enough. This is an important issue. It’s very strange that you show aggression towards me when you should be showing aggression towards the companies that use these tests and the industry that pushes them. It is a typical response, though. Americans don’t want to admit that their country has failed and they turn to petty insults instead of trying to fix problems. It’s easier that way.

          Cheers!

      • I agree,they may as well just give you a polygraph test(which were outlawed many years ago in the workplace)If there is no right or wrong answer,then what difference does it make what my favorite color is.These companies are hiring on the advice of a computer,a non-living,non-feeling MACHINE.Shame on them.These tests should be outlawed.

      • I have been unemployed now for over two years. I have applied at more than 500 jobs, taken dozens and dozens of these “personality tests”, worked in retail management for 11 years prior to being out of work, and cannot get a job because of these ridiculous tests. I do not understand how any company can feel these tests are accurate in describing someone’s personality, let alone whether a person would be a fit for their payroll. I was very seriously considering the Postal Service, but, after reading a previous comment, I’m not sure I want to waste my time. I am over 55 and am probably considered too old. I am still very active, no medical issues, intelligent, willing to do any job available, excellent references from previous employers, but, this test will probably cancel me out. This is insulting to say the least. I am trying different things to maybe make some money from home, but it is slow going, and I need a job now.

  19. These tests are ridiculous. I don’t STRONGLY agree with many things because I like to view situations in a RELATIVE way. I have taken four of these tests the past week. I have a GPA of 3.5, and I consider myself pretty darn intelligent. I know when things aren’t safe, and no, I’m not going to blow up and scream and yell at co-workers. GIVE ME A BREAK. I apparantly haven’t got the green-zone for ANY of these jobs.

  20. How can a person with 25 plus years of customer service experience not be “qualified” for a minimum pay customer service job in a Hospital? I am flabbergasted that I keep getting jobs e-mailed to me from this hospitals wedsite for jobs they say I qualifiy for. I apply for the job(s) then get an e-mail that they chose someone else – what the heck is going on?

    I know that I qualify for these jobs…

    • MyD58, I think the key to your problem is your 25 plus years of experience. When employers see that kind of experience, the first thing they think is, “This person will want a huge salary,” then turn their attention to the person who has only 3-5 years experience because they can pay them less. To improve your odds, never tell them how many years experience you have. Just tell them, “I have over X number of years experience,” and make it in the 5-10 year range (I.E: I have more than 5 years experience).

  21. Leonidas Gkimisis

    My background in Psychology tells that which ever company employs that kind of techniques for assessing purposes tends to be mistaken. There is no significant evidence to claim that this technique is reliable or that it really assess frankly anything. 

  22. You did not answer the question, you just wrote what most of us, applicants know already.

    Yes, how to get the “green” ?

    I have worked in Retail in the past, reaching the companies goals and achievements; however, now that “such test” has been implemented to know the candidate’s suitability,”I do not fit” according to the test results.

    I have seen others that apparently “fit” and qualified for the job, get the job, but in less than one month, they leave the company voluntarily or involuntarily.

    So, I have the firm conviction that such “personality test” is not effective at all.

  23. I don't think thees personality tests give even close to the right idea of who they should hire. First if your answering honestly I think you would get a bad score, because some of the questions just aren't a definite yes or no. It also has nothing to do with the line of work, I've applied at many places and most use the exact same test. That would mean only bubble headed loud people are qualified to work and I don't think that is true. I applied at one place that someone I know works at and my application didn't go through, yet this place is always hiring because it has a high turn over rate. A lot of the employees get rides from others, because they have had their license suspended and one of the managers has a DUI. The same manager is always have to pay to get his car to start, because he continues to get drunk and then for some reason or another jumps in his car and blows in what ever that thing is to get his car to start…which of course locks up on him, because he is drunk. This is a job you have to drive to many different places at. Oh and one employer was stealing from a company… this is also a company that goes into many different stores. Yet I am not qualified to work there, because of a personality test. I've never stole, I do not drink and drive and I tend to stay where I'm comfortable, which means I would probably work quite a long time at where ever I ended up. I don't know how anyone in their right mind could think companies are being smart by doing personality tests. Most people lie as well as they can to give them what they want to hear anyway. The honest people who answer it the way they would get dumped in the red pile, because they might have agreed where they should have strongly agreed. Also it doesn't take into account certain personality types that have bonuses to them. I may answer not being the best people person.. but that doesn't mean I can't do the job and on another part I may answer that I learn extremely quickly or am a very helpful person meaning I have pluses as well. Where as someone else may be a great people person, but have no clue how to do their job. That person gets hired anyway though.

    • Cori.Cori,

      Based on your description of the people who work at this business, especially the manager, I would be glad that I didn’t fit their mold.

  24. Some people just need jobs and are willing to work and do what they need. Their outside work personality is unrelated. These tests are BS and completely worthless. If they backed up test results. It was simple. The test takers were binded to answer honestly or told what they measure and how. The problem is no one answers 100% honest. The jobs are just advocating false answers. And hopefully someone lies just enough to score green. Interview + 90 day probation = the best way.

  25. I dislike these tests. I have 4 yrs very stable retail work experience. I pride myself as a very honest, dependable, polite employee with a strong work ethic. For each job I've had, I walked into the store, talked directly to a manager, filled out an application, and got hired. But when I've applied for a job that requires a personality test, I never even got an interview. The questions on the personality tests I've taken seem to be trying to find out whether I would be likely to steal, or sit around and chat on the job, ignore customers, or loose my temper in difficult situations. I do none of these things, and a call to any of my past employers and references would verify that. My personality test answers reflect this. I always answer very thoughtfully and as best as I can. So if I am not passing the personality test, who is? It's unfair to blame it unilaterally on the applicant and say that they are just not thinking hard enough about the answers to the questions or about the requirements of the job.

    I think there is something fishy with personality tests and that they are just a way for HR to put a score on what can't actually be scored. I think they may also work against people with higher reasoning skills who see more nuances and options than the multiple choice answers the test offers. I recommend that career experts go take a personality test or two themselves so they know what I'm talking about.

    • I totally get your point about these tests not measuring “higher reasoning skills.” I've taken my share of this kind of test over time, and encountered situations with similar frustrations.

      When I was getting my MBA, I got poor grades on some purely quantitative assignments because I gave answers that reflected my values. Finally, I “cracked the code” meaning I realized I needed to simply regurgitate the specified formula and answer. The test was to see if I had mastered the specific skills. It was not to see if I had good judgment or great values or critical thinking skills. Those things come into play later, in a job – or in a job seeker's situation, an interview.

      As you imply, the point of these employment tests is to screen people out and reduce the volume of applicants to be interviewed. Because they are computer-rated, the tests do not and perhaps cannot assess anything beyond very simple answers to the questions. So my suggestion is to just keep it simple and not overthink when answering those questions.

      My question to you is: Do you really want to work for a company that uses these tests? It's a cookie-cutter approach and you don't seem like a cookie-cutter person. Thus, it doesn't sound like you'd be a good culture fit with that kind of company. Yes, it's unfortunate that an opportunity is closed off to you because of this screening mechanism. Yet is it really an opportunity you want? You'll be making choices about where to focus your energy anyway; this kind of “barrier to employment” reduces your choices, which you can see as a good thing. My comments are not intended to “blame” anyone, simply to suggest that there is plenty of useful information you can glean both from the tests and the fact that a company uses them.

      Fortunately, many companies don't use these tests, including the ones you've successfully approached. One article mentioned that Whole Foods stopped using the Kronos test because it did not measure the things important to Whole Foods, namely job-specific skills.

      • Many companies use personality tests to determine which applicants are the best fit for a job. But do those tests violate the Americans with Disabilities Act?

        They can, if they reveal enough information about candidates’ mental states.

        In one court case, three rejected job applicants sued after they failed a pre-employment personality test given by the employer.

        The company gave the tests to determine whether applicants had the right personality traits for the job.

        The problem: The test was similar to those used by psychologists to determine if patients suffer from mental disorders such as depression, hysteria and paranoia. For example, applicants were asked if they:

        - hear voices without knowing where they are coming from.
        - have fits of laughing and crying that they cannot control.
        - have a habit of counting things that are not important.

        Therefore, the applicants claimed, the test was a medical examination, and the company violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by giving applicants a medical exam before they were offered jobs.

        The company argued that the test wasn’t a medical exam because it wasn’t interpreted by a doctor.

        But the court disagreed. Since the test revealed symptoms of personality disorders, it was considered a medical examination under the ADA, and using it before jobs were offered was a violation of the law.

        Cite: Karraker v. Rent-a-Center, Inc.

      • “Do you really want to work for a company that uses these tests?”

        Newsflash: NO ONE wants to work for these businesses. No one REALLY wants a minimum wage job at Best Buy or Lowe's or Starbucks. No one over the age of 20 anyway…and those young people want those jobs because it's all they are usually qualified for at their age. Other people want these jobs only because they NEED them. No one's dream is to be a cashier….. In this economy, many people need any job they can just to eat & pay rent. It's called SURVIVAL. You cannot afford to be picky about your job, but that means it's an employer's market and they can & will be picky – ridiculously picky to the point where it becomes outright prejudice & they are possibly shooting themselves in the foot.

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