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Phone interviews may not feel as official or formal as a face-to-face interview, which can make candidates mistakenly take too laid back of an approach. Hiring managers use phone interviews as a preliminary screening tool, so you could knock yourself out of the running if you treat it as a casual chat instead of an interview that requires careful consideration and planning. Use the following three tips to take the phone interview seriously:

1. Focus on a Professional First Impression

You may think you have little control of how you come across during a phone interview, since it’s just your voice. However, there are actions you can take to put yourself in the right mental place and help you come across as professional and confident. Make arrangements to be alone during your phone call – you wouldn’t bring children or a pet to an interview, so they shouldn’t be around and able to be heard in the background. Select a quiet spot with good phone reception so you’re not flustered by not being able to hear the interviewer. And if you have an interview outfit that makes you feel professional, wear it for the phone call. Even if no one can see it, it may put you in “interview mode” more than casual clothes.

2. Prepare for Verbal Cues

If you are able to be memorable and impress the hiring manager during a phone interview, you’re more likely to be successful in receiving an in-person interview. You wouldn’t be contacted initially if you didn’t have the basic qualifications for the job, so the phone interview is a way for the hiring manager to get a sense of who you are and how you’d fit. Since you won’t have body language or facial expressions on the phone, you’ll need to be conscious of making sure you convey enthusiasm through your verbal cues. Smile and speak a bit louder and with more inflection than you would face-to-face. It may feel slightly artificial, but it really can help establish a positive tone so you don’t inadvertently come across as disinterested.

3. Have Notes Ready

A major advantage of phone interviews as a candidate is that you can have reference materials handy, in case you lose your train of thought. Take some notes ahead of time, with talking points you want to get across, as well as brief reminders for how you want to answer common questions. Don’t rely on your notes and write out full answers that you read verbatim, but having them on hand to scan as needed can help you make the most of your limited time during the call.

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