If you've ever read the 'what we look for' sections in most graduate recruitment brochures, you'll typically have found a list of required competencies such as commercial awareness, strong academics and sound analytical ability. Such skills are undoubtedly essential for any individual representing an organisation but arguably softer skills such as relationship building, communication and simply being able to 'read a room' are of equal importance to firms offering professional services.
Being able to win and subsequently maintain business relationships have never been more important. This is largely due to the many professional firms offering similar services for similar prices. With so much market competition, a personality may be the difference between winning business and being very good, but a close second.
Considering this, it has become essential for applicants to demonstrate their business development potential (in addition to having an outstanding academic background). This isn't the easiest thing to do on an online application form and, arguably, firms willing to incorporate technology (specifically video tech) into their recruitment and screening processes would significantly benefit. Video technology works best as a supplement to current recruitment practices; many firms we interviewed pointed to written applications as a method of screening candidates based on their written communication, understandable.
Let's face it; time is the most valuable commodity in most firms (narrowly sneaking ahead of coffee) and using video technology has proven successful in saving time and money. Candidates can be whittled down to only the most likely prospects, which must surely be music to ears of HR professionals. However, this is a process change and while that can be no problem for certain industries, professional services firms tend to be slower in their uptake.
From a law student's perspective (and I was one), anything that helps to distinguish your application from others should probably be exaggerated (not quite to the epic proportions of Britain's Got Talent, but not far off). Your personality and ability to engage are intrinsic and unique qualities that you should have the chance to show off from the beginning.
Of course there is another side to the coin. Some law firms we quizzed pointed to discrimination as a potential speed bump (note, speed bump and not road block). I concede that this is a strong argument; using video as a platform has the potential to encourage discrimination, but not more so than interviewing in person. However, I'd point out that video technology cannot be responsible for discrimination, responsibility lies with the individual. Whether the medium be video or face to face, the opportunity to discriminate exists; the exercise of it remains optional.
I would also argue that not all forms of technology and social media are suitable for professional services firms. While social media sites are fantastic for keeping us connected, referrals are perhaps the most effective marketing tool for many firms. Nevertheless, there are probably cleverer ways of improving referrals that don't require too much time spent on social media. And in contrast, video technology saves everyone time, and creates a win-win scenario. Hopefully, we'll see one of our beloved law firms lead the charge in the adoption of this technology.