Performance reviews are intimidating. You'll be on the spot, in front of your boss or immediate supervisor, and you'll be forced to not only demonstrate how valuable you are to the company, but also how you've grown since your last performance review. Most companies institute these on an annual basis, with special circumstances for new hires, such as 30-day and 90-day reviews.

No matter the circumstances for your review, you'll want to go in prepared. Well-armed with information, history, and poise, you could confidently request a raise or promotion. Go in unprepared, however, and you could find yourself unprepared for the interviewer's most basic questions.

Throughout this guide, I'll help you understand the best ways to prepare for your performance review, from months-in-advance preparations to last minute planning. If your review is right around the corner and you don't have months to prepare--don't worry. I've written this guide to ensure you get help no matter where you are in the process.

The Months Before Your Review

In the months leading up to your performance review, you need to be focused on your actual performance. Consider this ammunition that you can use in the case for your promotion or positive reception. There are several ways you can stand out positively to management:

Take on new responsibilities.
Display exceptional results.
Learn new skills.
Put in extra time or effort.
Start new projects.
Demonstrate leadership.

Throughout this process, keep track of everything. You'll want quantifiable results when you enter the performance review. This preparation is crucial if you want to climb the corporate ladder.

The Week Before Your Review

First, you'll want to tally the results of your hard work. Take inventory of all the accomplishments you've had over the past year (or the evaluation period) and list them out. Use objective data whenever possible--that means verifiable numbers. Specifically mention any new initiatives you've started, new skills or responsibilities you've incorporated, and any breakthroughs you've led. Memorize these, as you don't want to read from a list during the review. Also consider how you've improved over your last performance review, and address anything negative that came up at that time.

Second, you'll want to establish your goals. Think about what it is you want out of the review. Are you gunning for a promotion? Are you looking for a raise? Do you just want to get an "attaboy" or "attagirl" from the boss? Clarifying your goals will help you position yourself better during the review.

Third, you'll want to do some research. Put yourself in the context of the real world. How much do you make versus the average person in the field? How does your skillset match up to the average skillset of an employee at this level? How have your colleagues fared in comparison to you (don't throw anybody under the bus, but do distinguish yourself). Going into the performance review with this information is vital to seeing success.

The Night Before Your Review

Once you've prepared with all the necessary information and background, you can start preparing for your presentation in the interview itself:

Practice the recitation of your accomplishments.
Prepare to dress well.
Practice your posture and diction.
Anticipate hard questions.
Get ready for the ask.

With these tips in place, you should have no problem breezing through your performance review. If you have verifiable improvements and contributions to highlight for the company, you'll be in a good position to ask for a raise. Otherwise, you'll make a good impression and will be even better prepared for the coming year.

Published on: Aug 12, 2015
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