You have to prepare for each and every job interview. Show your future bosses that you’re smart and ready for anything — and that you can communicate clearly and not go off track. Take a look at the following pointers to prepare for an interview.

  • Concentrate on what you can do for the company, not on what the company can do for you.

  • Focus on your skills and other factors that make you valuable immediately. Employers don’t want to wait for six months before you deliver benefits to them.

  • Present a fitting image for the job you seek. Walk it, talk it, and look it.

  • Be confident and friendly. Maintain good eye contact, have a firm handshake, and smile frequently. Don’t use first names unless asked to do so. Likeability is vital.

  • Memorize a short speech that tells your story quickly.

  • Don’t chatter to fill a silence. You risk nervously blurting out harmful information. Instead ask a question: “Would you rather hear about my skills in A or B?”

  • Avoid bringing up negative aspects from your employment history — unless you must to get ahead of the bad news that you’re sure is coming. Don’t ever trash your current or past employers.

  • Don’t ask about salary and benefits too soon. Use deft moves to avoid giving away your negotiating leverage when you go for your bottom-line pay even in tough times.

  • Develop a storytelling knack — memorize short little true stories that support your claims of relevant skills and accomplishments.

  • Don’t leave without asking when a decision will be made and whether you can call back to check progress on the decision.