Landing a job interview is already a feat in itself, but actually getting through it feeling like you've won is a whole other issue. Whether it's a dream job that you want in order to take your career to the next level or that promotion at your current job, it's likely you'll be thrown a few curve balls by way of tough questions. They're often common and a tad basic, but they can bring about feelings of uncertainty, anxiety, or confusion.
It's okay, sis. We've got you covered. Here's how to answer tough but common job interview questions confidently and win. (And don't be afraid to practice answering these with a trusted friend, mentor, coach, or even in the mirror with yourself, if that's what will really ensure you stay on ready.)
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1. "Can you tell us more about yourself?"
As someone with almost 20 years of experience in my industry and who has worked for businesses large and small, I've always had to fight the urge to say, "Well, didn't you read my resume?" (And I've felt this way even when I was just starting out. You definitely don't want to say that though! Ha!)
While the person interviewing might have read your resume (or, in my experience being both an interviewee and interviewer for a job, might have just gotten your resume 10 minutes before the interview), this question often serves as your opportunity to put your resume in your own words. Talk about the things you're most passionate about when it comes to your job (working with teams, corresponding with customers, being a problem-solver), mention your educational and training background, and include one or two key roles you're proud of having shined in.
This is actually a great first question in an interview because, for me, it allows me to control the vibe and energy of the conversation. I always find the most confidence in remembering my "why" when answering, and I know that just being myself is key. Also, as my faith denotes, if a job is for me, it's for me. If not, God always has something else that is.
Add a bit of personality and elaborate on not only the key points of who you are professionally, but who you are personally as well. (Just be sure that what you say related to your personal life reflects professionalism and is actually relevant to the job you're interviewing for.)
Don't ramble. Take a breath between sentences and remember to smile. Imagine if you were in an elevator and you only had a minute to tell someone about yourself in a way that lets them know who you are, what you offer, and things you love about your career experience.
A big tip for answering this question: Do a bit of research on the professionals who will be interviewing you. Look up the HR department or the person's email on LinkedIn or Google. Don't focus on befriending them online or making them a Facebook friend. Simply take note of a few things that might be relevant to the position or relate to them on a professional level.
And you don't want to get too personal or thirsty (Think, creepy blind date who tells you what you were last doing based on your IG story or keeps asking you about a mom they never really met but saw in one of your posts). Again, be sure to only talk about things super-relevant to the role you're applying to or the skills required for it.
2. "What's your biggest weakness?"
Again, it's like "What??? Why?" But, again, don't respond in that way. (I swear these are my immediate reactions to these sorts of "common" interview questions.) The key to answering this one is this: Oftentimes this is asked to see how honest you will be, if you're a leader in self-correction, and if you have skills that include self-awareness and self-reflection.
This is not a time to bash yourself or tell them what you think they want to hear. Think about areas of leadership, communication, or strategic thinking that you either are actively working on or plan to actively work on.
For me, for example, I've always had a weakness for perfection, and I'll often do something at least two different ways just to make sure I have a plan B if plan A doesn't work or isn't enough. I'd also over-edit my work or re-write something several times, trying to make it "perfect," until my previous editors would have to say, "Enough Janell. We've gotta file this. Give us what you've got." This is indeed something I'd been working on (and I've since gotten better at not doing). So I've said in an interview or two: "I've learned from my previous managers that, as a leader, you have to trust your instincts and experience and go with plan A." I'd then add in details on an example of this from a previous project I'd worked on that was successful when I didn't second-guess myself so much and went with my gut.
If you have a self-perceived weakness of, for example, overexplaining things, challenges communicating criticism to those on your team (i.e. being too nice), or find it difficult being an introvert among extroverts, this is the time to mention it. Definitely don't just say, "Well, I'm great. I have no weaknesses," or offer up insights that will totally get your resume thrown in the garbage ("Oh, I'm always late, even if I leave my house on time," or "I just can't seem to get organized, and I often find myself being scatterbrained." Trust me, I've heard these before and the team always wondered, "Did this person intend to waste our time today?")
A big tip for answering this question: You don't have to do too much oversharing here. You'd hate to be that person who was a tad bit too transparent about weaknesses in a job interview but had very little to say when it came to talking about accomplishments or impact. It's a clear red flag, so just be as concise and direct with this one as possible and allow the interviewer to probe for more (or not).
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3. "Why should we hire you?"
Here's another question that should show you did your research on the company and the people you might be working for. It's not something to respond to with vague statements like, "I'm a people person, and I'm a go-getter," especially if you're interviewing for the position of a manager, senior leader, or director.
In almost every situation where I've had a hand in hiring someone, the candidates who showed that they'd done their homework and actually applied what they knew about the company in talking about why they'd be a great fit for the position either made it to the next round of interviews or were hired.
It's good to lean on three key things when answering this question: your personal "why," your actual experience (and being confident in how relevant your credentials, unique talents, and skills are to the role), and how those previous two can be woven together in order to be an asset.
I once applied for a job because I knew I wanted to transition into magazines after having worked for newspapers for much of my early career. I thought it was a long shot. I'd only interned at a magazine one time before, and while it was still journalism, working for a magazine publisher would be totally different from working in a newsroom.
I knew I not only had education, experience, and transferable skills but that I'd be great at the job because I'd wanted it for more than a decade. I told the interviewers, "Along with my degree and my love for storytelling and editing, I've dreamt about working here, at this publication, since childhood. The stories you've done highlighting ________ are something I've wanted to work on since reading your articles in my Granny's den. My great uncle, her brother, was a respected entrepreneur as well, so I know how important it is to highlight those stories. He built his businesses during Jim Crow, the Reagan-era recession, and the recession we're in right now. I've always had a passion for telling stories of the voiceless, of leaders and those who overcome, and I've loved the reach of magazines in doing that. It's what I feel called to do, especially for an audience such as yours."
I made it through three whole rounds and got the job. I was so happy because, at the time, I was pretty burnt out from working in newspapers and wanted a change that would not only revive me but place me on a path I'd always wanted to be on.
A big tip for answering this question: If your why is clear and on the up-and-up, answering this question will be a breeze. If not, you might want to reconsider applying for the job altogether. I don't care if it's a job dipping fries at a burger joint or leading a Fortune 500 marketing team, your why matters. Focus on talking about your skills and allow what motivated you to apply in the first place (your kids, financial goals, lifestyle aspirations, or career fulfillment) to be the silent foundation for informing your approach. (In other words, you don't have to say, "I applied for my kids," or "I need the money," but your actions and prep for answering this question should reflect that you mean business and that you must get the job).
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4. "What's led you to look for new employment?"
There are several variations to this question such as, "Why did you leave your last position?" In this case, you definitely want to be truthful, since, depending on some state laws, your former employer can not only be contacted and asked about you but some might even offer specifics on the circumstances of you leaving.
A good way to approach this one is to put positivity at the forefront. If the previous job simply wasn't a good fit, state that. If you're interested in strengthening certain skills and feel that the new position will offer the opportunity to do that, say that. If you've relocated and are looking for a fresh start, say that. (And you don't even have to volunteer details on why you relocated, especially if it's related to health, marriage, or family. In some states, for example, it's illegal for an interviewer to ask questions that might introduce the chance of discrimination, especially those related to the aforementioned.)
Lead with what was positive about the previous experience and how you'd like to further build upon that, even if it was a job you didn't like or one that ended in a way that wasn't the best.
I once decided to move on from a job simply because I'd outgrown the position and really didn't see any chance of me getting promoted (both via title and financially) in the time I wanted to. At the interview for my next job, I simply told them, "I've led teams that did amazing work on projects I'm proud of, and I'd love to continue being an asset to grow and learn in a different capacity at this company." I kept it short and sweet, and the interviewer moved on.
If you've had an employment gap, you can approach answering this question in the same way. When I first began my grad degree studies, I didn't work in the capacity I had previously. I really wanted to focus on being a student and having schedule flexibility, and I worked jobs that were totally unrelated to my core career in order to do so. Later, when I was getting closer to the end of my program and knew I could give more time to a job more closely aligned with my career passions, I simply stated how much I'd learned about myself, about discipline, and about leadership, in pursuing my degree and that I'm now ready for applying what I've learned in my next chapter.
When it comes to tough interview questions, just remember to come to the table knowing who you are and why you're there. Rely on the boldness and greatness of what you offer the world and why you're even applying in the first place. Be strategic, practice answering these questions with someone, and seek out your destiny without hesitation. God's speed to you!
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- The Top 10 Questions You Should Ask At A Job Interview ›
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Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
More Women Are Taking The 'Girlfriend' Title & Exclusivity Off The Table In Dating — Here's Why
Nearly a decade ago, Chris Rock famously coined the phrase, "Men are only as faithful as their options." And as if to be a vexing prophecy, the concept provokes an all too familiar frustration within the dating scene to this day: havingtoo many headaches and not enough options.
Ask any single woman in their mid-twenties or early thirties navigating the trenches of their love life, and you’ll be met with the disappointments of failed situationships and lack of commitment. While on the other end, men seem to freely date a roster of quality women without a single care about the emotional rubble they leave behind.
It begs the question of whether men have known all this time that finding “the one” all comes down to a numbers game.
Felicia Gloria, a social commentator and YouTuber from Toronto, Canada, thinks so.
After a breakup with her long-term boyfriend and a few years of dating in her late twenties, Felicia came to the realization that the system of modern dating was no longer serving her. “I was meeting guys who would be interested in me initially, we’d date for a while, and it wouldn't go anywhere,” she tells xoNecole. “I was just sick of becoming attached to these men and then going through the pain of breaking up.”
The cycle of micro-breakups caused her to alter her approach to dating, one that was rid of emotional attachment, fantasy, and aimless hookups — a method she calls “rotational dating.”
"Rotational dating is when you don't date one person at a time. You date multiple people until someone gives you what it is that you are looking for," she explains. While every woman's end goal in dating may differ from babies to boyfriends and bills being paid, Felicia's happy ending starts with a ring.
Meaning, the 'girlfriend' title is off the table, there's no exclusivity, and you date multiple men at a time until one promises to have your hand in marriage. "If you do want marriage and you don't want to have your time wasted, there is no reason for you to go through a trial period with a man as a girlfriend," she says.
Radical? Some may believe it to be, but with the state of the dating market being where it stands, a shift could be necessary.
"I feel like traditional dating benefits men more than it benefits women because men are not on the same crunch for time," she shares. "So by them being able to have a girlfriend, they get to have sex, companionship, and all the benefits that they would have in having a wife. Meanwhile, women their age are trying to settle down."
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But dating with the intention of marriage isn’t a new concept. Many women find it more beneficial to date with the goal of long-term commitment over short-term gratification. And with this shift in mindset, women could regain a sense of balance so that their romantic life becomes less about how they can find their soulmate in every man they meet and more about vetting suitable partners they’d like to spend the rest of their life with.
“Women have been conditioned and programmed to not do this because it disempowers them. If they had all this power and were engaging with multiple men, it would mean that men would have to step up to win a woman’s attention,” says one TikTok dating coach.
Since rotational dating leads with the intention of receiving a proposal in order to sign on for full exclusivity, it’s normal to find that some men won’t always be enthusiastic to get with the program. But as men naturally fall by the wayside, the ones whose intentions align with yours should then be prioritized.
“The most fundamental thing to vet for is if this person wants to marry you. And the only way to know if a person wants to marry you is if they propose to you, they could say anything. When men love women, they will propose,” Felicia says. “You have to be willing to accept that a lot of guys are going to say ‘no’ to you because of this. And a lot of guys are going to think you're absolutely wretched, and maybe some women will as well.”
While it may seem extreme to make such a drastic shift in your approach to dating, it could be an option that may serve you in your love life if your current approach just isn’t working. When you reach a certain age and stage of life, you begin to reanalyze what’s serving you and where there could be an adjustment. And if your long-term goal is to be married or you just don’t have any more talking stages left in you, could it really hurt to seek a ring over, say… endless coffee dates?
“I think the failure of an engagement is actually a success of rotational dating because it shows that you did what it took to get to that certain point,” Felicia says. “At least you can look at them and say, ‘You know what? It wasn't meant to be, but we gave it our best shot.”
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