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Just as job seekers must prepare before going to an interview, employees should also be ready before sitting down with the boss for their end-of-year performance review. Think of it as a kind of follow-up job interview. But this time, you want to convince then that you’re doing a great job.

Some people may dread the performance review, but it can be an employee’s best friend. It provides a chance to see where you’ve fallen short and allows you the opportunity to change course before it’s too late. You also have the undivided attention of your boss and a chance to clear up any misunderstandings that may be lingering. Here are some ideas on how to make the best of it.

Prepare

Don’t think of your review as a passive process where you sit in your boss’s office and listen to what you did or didn’t do well in the past year. The review should instead be a conversation with your boss about your performance, what worked well and what could be improved. Your input is just as important as your supervisor’s, so be ready to discuss accurately your accomplishments and shortcomings.

Before the review, spend some time reflecting on how you helped the team and the company last year. Think of any skills you’ve learned. If you need help coming up with ideas, ask some trusted co-workers what you do well.

Don’t make the mistake of equating number of hours worked with job performance. Although an employer will always appreciate your dedication, it’s ultimately the results of your work that matter.

Honestly assess where you can improve and take responsibility for your mistakes. Anticipate any related questions, and don’t make excuses or blame anybody else. It’s always best to take the high road. Acknowledge your shortcomings and explain how you plan to improve.

Ask questions

If you haven’t already, now’s the time to address any concerns you may have about your review. If things are still vague, ask what areas you can work on and make sure that you are given specific details about what you can do to improve.

Now’s also a good time to bring up any misconceptions or nagging office rumors that have been circulating or to discuss any concerns you may have about the job or the company.

Don’t be afraid to discuss your future with the company. Point out where you’d like to be and ask what steps you need to take to achieve it (or if it’s even feasible).

If your review is negative

Sometimes, your review is less positive than you had hoped (and sometimes it’s just as bad as you expected). In either case, it stings. But don’t get defensive or discouraged. See it as an important learning opportunity and ask questions on how you can do a better job.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of miscommunication between you and your boss, so make sure your supervisor gives you very detailed and specific steps to improve. To show you’re really committed to changing, ask for a follow-up review in three to six months.

Most importantly, don’t take it personally. The great thing about performance reviews is that you get a chance to see where you’re falling short and make changes before it’s too late.