One of the most critical points in your job search is the first live interaction you have with a company representative. Sometimes this is someone in HR, a corporate recruiter, or even the hiring manager. But make no mistake about it – your performance on this call will make or break your job search efforts.So, here are a few common sense tips to help you ace that all important call.

1. Make sure you are available a few minutes before the appointed time, in a place where you can speak freely without distractions. Taking this call on your cell phone in rush hour traffic or squatting in what you think is a free conference room is never a good idea.

2. Research the person conducting your interview. Knowing a little something about your interviewer can establish rapport and some common interests. Skills, education, and experience aside, we still prefer working with people we like. Use Google or LinkedIn to get some good scoop.

3. Know the job description and the company well. I know this sounds crazy, but one of the main reasons candidates don’t advance beyond the telephone interview is because they knew little to nothing about the company. Yes, we want to recruit you – but we also like to feel like you are at least a little interested in us as well.

4. Be prepared to discuss how your unique experience can solve specific challenges. Role-playing these types of questions with a friend or family member can make responding to them real-time a piece of cake. Use the job description and recent news about the company for insights.

5. When wrapping up, be sure to express your continued interest and ask about next steps (but only if you are really interested). Doing so communicates that you are serious about taking things to the next level and you are motivated to keep the process moving forward. Again, we want you to like us too.

These might seem like little, “no brainers” that anyone should know. Yet every day, candidates are denied the opportunity to move forward for overlooking the little things. Don’t blow off or underestimate these important first interviews. This is a golden opportunity to show your stuff.

Overtime bonus: don’t forget to send a quick “thank you” note. Saying “thanks” shouldn’t only be reserved for in-person interviews. Again, you’d be surprised at how many don’t do this and it can set you apart in a good way.

What are some other great tips for acing a telephone interview?