Using virtual interviews as the first step in the candidate interview process is helping hiring companies save loads of time and money in screening applicants – and filling jobs.

Travel time and costs are eliminated from the initial meeting. This allows you to meet more candidates in less time, while helping employed professionals get to your ‘virtual’ table without losing time on their jobs. Scheduling is easier, too, because you and your key stakeholders can dial in from anywhere to keep the interview process moving.

A sea of change is coming

From our vantage point as a nationwide executive recruiting firm, we see efficiencies and advantages so compelling that virtual interviews are changing the recruitment and hiring game for everyone involved. Another distinct advantage for employers is that impressions formed during virtual interviews are essentially the same as impressions made in person. What you see is what you get. It is impossible to make similar assessments through phone calls.

Speed and simplicity do not replace preparedness

As with everything enabled by technology, virtual interviews streamline your processes – but while efficiency and cost control are the beauty of it all, your end game is still the same, and that is to conduct effective interviews and quickly identify the best candidates for your organization.

Here are some best practices you can employ to make the most of your interviews:

1.Encourage your internal stakeholders to participate

Wasting days of production on nonproductive in-person interviews is not good when you have important roles to fill. You can avoid this by inviting key internal stakeholders to participate in virtual interviews. People whose departments or divisions will be impacted by a new hire can screen out applicants before your company invests in bringing candidates on-site. For instance, if a job calls for an engaging and outgoing individual, you can literally see that a more reserved candidate won’t be a good fit. Or say you’re filling a finance position. A candidate whose face is covered in tattoos won’t fit that role, either.

As mentioned, internal stakeholders don’t have to be on the premises to participate. If your VP of Operations is critical to candidate selection but is called out of town on interview day, he or she can simply dial in from the road. Virtual interviews accommodate busy people.

2. Run a tight internal ship

After screening résumés, gaining consensus on which candidates to engage, and scheduling interviews, you are able to attach job descriptions and candidate résumés to the interview reminders for instant reference. Having it all in one place ensures busy managers, directors and executives can get up to speed in a flash on interview day.

Internal preparation can also include helping company participants understand the importance of coming to the interview prepared with key questions. This keeps interviews on topic, allows everyone to learn more about candidates, and eliminates tension and uncomfortable gaps during video calls.

3. Be transparent with candidates

Beyond confirming interview dates and times, it is important to provide candidates with the names and titles of all company representatives who will be on the call. Also, try to gauge a candidate’s familiarity and comfort level with virtual interviews – and give consideration to whether and how this may affect their performance. In other words, if live video presentation skills are not requirements of your job, this shouldn’t reflect poorly on an otherwise stellar candidate. Not all candidates, and for that matter, not all hiring managers and executives, are comfortable with virtual face-to-face encounters and the enabling technologies.

It is up to candidates to be prepared in all other ways, and to regard a virtual interview the same as they would an in-person interview.

4. Set up every interview for success

All participants should know in advance the duration of the video call, and sent dial-in instructions and reminders. It’s good to include instructions for what to do if technical difficulties arise. Even with the best preparation, connections still drop, sound cuts out and other issues can disrupt an interview. Let everyone know in advance how this will be handled.

It is fairly standard to schedule virtual interviews for an hour, and if more than one is scheduled on a given day, separate them by 45 minutes. Some interviews can last longer than expected, and company participants need breaks to check email, return calls and manage other business.

5. Make sure the technology works

Most companies with reliable approaches to virtual interviews use a dependable platform and ensure software is kept up to date. Operating systems and applications constantly evolve, and sometimes internal firewalls can prevent access to software and websites. Test your platform often to ensure it works, and that your participants’ computers, laptops or mobile devices have connectivity prior to an interview. This reduces the possibility of technical difficulties, interruptions and having to reschedule interviews. Time is money.

6. Choose a quiet place with plenty of light

A well-lit office or conference room is ideal for conducting virtual interviews. Sources of noise and distraction should be eliminated by turning off phones, closing doors and letting staff know to not disturb you. If you or other company representatives are interviewing from home or the road, a similar environment should be chosen. Share these tips with everyone who participates so that all parties can be seen and heard.

This method of screening candidates can help your organization quickly identify applicants who will ascend to the next level in your interview process. Most commonly, the next step is an on-site meeting. Conducting the most effective virtual interviews possible will help ensure you are investing your time and budget in bringing in the most fitting and qualified candidates.