Anything but a formality, many employers use phone interviews as a first-round screening process. If you’ve received an interview invitation of this nature, take it seriously, because you won’t advance to the next round if you don’t make a good impression.

The interviewer will likely be speaking with several candidates, so brush up on your skills to increase your chances of making the cut.

  1. Choose the Right Space to Talk

Most phone interviews are scheduled in advance, so plan accordingly. Make sure you’re in a quiet spot where you won’t be interrupted. Find a place away from all potential disruptions — e.g., barking dogs, young children, loud traffic — so you can focus solely on the interviewer. Since cell signals can be unreliable, it’s best to use a landline. If you don’t have one at your disposal, opt for a place where you know service is strong.

  1. Be Prepared

Despite the relaxed setting, a phone interview is the real deal, so don’t try to wing it. Research the company, prepare responses to standard interview questions and make a list of questions to ask the interviewer. In this case, you also have the unique ability to have your resume and any applicable notes in front of you, so take full advantage of it. You can also have the company website pulled up on your computer, but be quiet if you need to do a quick search, because you don’t want the interviewer to hear you typing.

  1. Give Precise Responses

In a face-to-face interview, you can read the other person’s body language to determine the appropriate length of your responses. Obviously, you don’t have this advantage in a phone interview, so limit your replies to less than one minute. The last thing you want is to keep a busy interviewer on the phone much longer than intended because you wouldn’t stop rambling.

  1. Don’t Forget to Follow Up

Despite its casual nature, a phone interview still requires a prompt thank-you note. In this situation, email is the way to go, because a decision might be made before a handwritten letter is received. Send your thank-you message before the close of the business day.

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