Win Skype prizes by watching our disastrous video job interview

What you are about to see is a dramatization! Jason Cochran -- er, "Mason Mockran" -- is trying to screw up his job interview, but in a plausible way, so that you can benefit from his career-halting gaffes.

An increasing number of companies are using Skype video conferencing for their job interviews, including Zappos. It's tough enough putting on your best clothes and sitting down for a face-to-face meeting that could determine the direction of the rest of your life. Now, you also have to know how to come across well on camera, too.

So we asked a career coach from to help us conduct a bogus job interview that could best show you what not to do if you're asked to interview for a job by Skype. Our coach was Maria White, a high-powered human resources consultant for Lehman Brothers and the aerospace industry, and she laced our computer-to-computer job interview with a few classic booby traps.

Even though the interviewee seems, on the surface, to be confident and relaxed, in fact, "Mason" does a bunch of things that will likely torpedo his chances at getting this unspecified job. There are some definite wrong answers to these typical job interview questions, and "Mason," who is often vague and unprepared, gives every one of them:

Question: "Do you know much about this position?"
Don't say what "Mason" says: "No. Tell me about it." Do some prep work, and if you don't know specifics, at least be able to talk about the goals of the company itself.
Question: "Why did you leave your last position?"
Candidates who left because of a bad position often make the mistake of speaking negatively about their previous employer. Don't. Even if you were right, it makes you look bad.

Question: "So tell me about yourself."
Unprepared candidates, like "Mason," usually make the mistake of rambling on and on about family and life rather than discussing their professional history.

Question: "What would you say is your greatest weakness?"
The best way to handle this question is to state a weakness and turn it into a benefit (i.e. "I sometimes won't rest until a job is done absolutely perfectly.") Don't say something slightly scary ("I have a short fuse") like "Mason" does.

Question: "What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?"
Make it a professional accomplishment, not a personal one. It's nice that you went to cooking school, but the company is looking for someone to solve their staffing needs, so stick to painting a picture of yourself that makes their professional dreams come true.

Question: "What do you feel will be your biggest challenge in this position?"
A minefield. Be careful not to frame your answer by revealing or discussing your weaknesses, and don't make the mistake of speaking pessimistically about the position. This is an ideal opportunity to show that you've done your research about the business and the job. If you haven't done your homework, it can be a deal breaker.

But there are even more performance mistakes in this video. For one, when Jason pretends to be Mason, he is fixed on the video image of Maria on the side of his screen and not on his computer's camera. Just because you're on video doesn't mean you shouldn't look someone in the eye, and in the world of video conferencing, the camera is the "eye." Don't be distracted.

Also, when he thinks about his responses, his eyes wander. That gives him away as not being confident and not having done his prep work. Judge Judy eats people for lunch for that.

Finally, the video location is too busy, with people milling about in the background where they can distract.

Those priceless video interview tips are free, courtesy of WalletPop. But the freebies don't stop there. We're also giving away some goodies, courtesy of Skype, so that you can warm up for your own future run-in with teleconferencing.

Three winners will be selected at random to win one of each of these fabulous prizes:
* A 2.4 GHz True Digital Stereo Wireless Headset, certified by Skype.
* A Skype Unlimited World subscription plan voucher, which allows for unlimited calls to landlines in over 40 countries for three months.
* Fame and respect from your friends (participating locations only).

Other details of the contest --
  • To enter, simply leave a verified comment on this post.
  • The comment must be left before Monday, Aug. 31 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time. You may enter only once.
  • Three prize winners will be randomly selected to receive a 2.4 GHz True Digital Stereo Wireless Headset and a three-month Skype Unlimited World subscription plan voucher. The total value of each prize set is approximately $118.
  • One to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia, who are 18 and over.
  • For official rules, click here.
Enter for your chance to win by discussing job interviews below. What other sort of easy mistakes could you make in a job interview, and do you have any horror stories of your own?
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