After nearly 20 years of recruiting IT professionals, I find that I still use the same interview prep that I did when I started in this business. I’ve used it to prepare consultants who will be interviewing with clients and with candidates when I was an agency recruiter. Still, to this day, friends and family call and ask for it when they are changing jobs. If you’re qualified for the job, a bit of preparation and thought will help you get to the next step of the interview process nearly every time.Give yourself uninterrupted time to prepare. Put your phone away, turn the TV off, let yourself concentrate.Research the company you are talking to. Nearly every company out there showcases their differentiators on their website. Many also highlight their Employee Value Proposition. An Employee Value Proposition is the set of core themes that sets a company apart from others and makes it a unique place for people to work. This information can not only help you glean alignment with your career goals but also help you organize what skills, experience, and strengths you possess that will get this organization excited about you.Get your background organized in your mind. After you’ve done your research, sit down with a sheet of paper and make a big T on it. Put everything you know about the job on the left and put everything about your experience that is relevant on the right. Low tech approach? Absolutely. Works every time? DEFINITELY! You want to walk into every interview with your relative and pertinent personal experience in the front of your mind: crisp, specific, and organized. Most of us have forgotten details of many of our project experiences and the thing you don’t want to happen is to walk out of the interview and remember something you should have said.Give examples. When you answer questions, include examples of when you’ve engaged that specific skill or talent. You want the employer to envision you doing the same in their environment. Most interviews use some behavioral interviewing techniques that ask about previous situations, so have them ready.Check your handshake. Is it soft and wimpy? Is it too aggressive? Practice on someone who will tell you the truth. The devil is in the details and your handshake is the beginning of your first impression.Tell the truth. If you haven’t worked with a technology or don’t have a certain skill, the answer is no. You can highlight situations when you’ve been a quick study and how you might get yourself up to speed, but never embellish things you have not done. Most employers are willing to coach and mentor but none are willing to hire someone whose integrity they question.Ask for the job! I see people skip this step and then wonder why things didn’t keep moving. You’re sitting in front of the decision maker—now is your chance to express your interest in the job and in moving to the next step. It doesn’t have to be, and probably shouldn’t be, ‘Great, when can I start?’ but it can be ‘Thanks for taking the time to meet with me, Tom. I’m very interested in the role and moving forward. What is the next step?’. EVERY employer wants to hire someone who takes initiative and now is your chance to showcase that. The hiring manager’s response to this question also gives you an indication of how well you’ve done. If you’re not getting a vibe that there is a next step, you’ve created an opportunity to ask about your fit for the role and a chance to make sure there’s nothing you forgot to highlight.Follow these simple tips and just 20 minutes of preparation to ensure that you package the exceptional skills you bring to the table in a clear, crisp and concise way, making the best first impression possible.