It's another grey day in February but before you decide to top yourself, sit up and pay attention. What you need is a new start - hey, a new job. But how the devil will you get through the interview, once you've jumped the CV screening hurdle? Just follow our essential ‘insider' guide…
1. Clothes. In the immortal words of Trinny and Susannah: "you are what you wear". So dress the part. If you're going for an architect's job, don't wear the suit you last wore to your Aunt Reenie's funeral. Go for something stylish and understated that can't fail to reflect your knowledge about space and form.
Gentlemen: white socks will put the interviewer on full Chav alert and comedy ties, well, just aren't funny. Most people have an innate distrust of men with moustaches - if you have one, shave it off.
Ladies: we all know the power of a nicely turned out lass but it's not a good idea to dress like a hooker - keep the wonderbra and mini skirt in the wardrobe or you may get the job with expected "overtime". It won't win you many friends among your female colleagues either.
2. Shoes. Little foot warmers to protect your tootsies? Wrong. Shoes say everything about you. Make sure they are clean and polished - and no trainers please. It's a sad fact of life that, statistically, tall people usually get the job over the vertically challenged. So if you're a lady of the ‘petite' persuasion, don't be tempted to wear ballet pumps with your suit but do check you can walk in your Manolos. Similarly, short men should sneak in whatever they can get away with - cuban heels under a long trouser leg may be just the ticket.
3. Be punctual. If you're rubbish in the mornings, arrange the interview for the afternoon. Give yourself plenty of time for the journey - only death or natural disasters are valid excuses for lateness. Prepare your ‘outfit' the night before and don't go out on a massive bender, even if it is your birthday. If you are unavoidably late, then ring in to let the interviewer know.
4. Project your voice. Though not in a Dennis Rodman fashion. Whatever you do, don't go into mouse mode during the interview, mumbling your answers into your shirt collar. Look straight at the interviewer making direct eye contact and speak slowly and confidently, as if you were talking to a bemused foreigner (go easy on the condescension). Play for extra time by repeating the question asked of you back to the interviewer in a rephrased, considered manner while your mind is panicking about the answer.
5. Tell them what they want to hear. You love working as "part of a team" but you are also sufficiently motivated to work well "on your own". Interviewers will want to hire someone they can boss. They don't want confrontation, yet they don't necessarily like someone they can wipe the floor with. It's important therefore to tread that fine line between mobster and mop.
6. Don't go into braggy mode. Never swagger into an interview. When the interviewer asks that nightmarishly open-ended question: "just tell us a little about yourself", don't seize the opportunity to launch into a monologue about just how brilliant you at sky-diving, sudoku and salsa. Bosses don't like show-offs or people who can do things better than they can, and come to think of it nor does anyone else.
7. Never slag off your former employers or colleagues. However tempted you may be to call your current boss an imbecile, resist the urge. If you are badmouthing them, what does that say about your ability to be loyal to your new company, eh? Think about it…
8. Be keen but not desperate. Avoid exaggeration - no one will ever believe that as a small child you dreamed of becoming the contractor on a multi-storey car park. Make sure you swot up on the company so that you can ask some incisive questions - with the amount of info on the net, you've no excuse.
9. Prepare answers to possible questions. Rehearse in front of the bathroom mirror as if you were being interviewed (Parky rather than Paxman if you want an easy ride). When asked, "where do you see yourself in five years time?", never say "in your seat".
Take a copy of your CV with you, and check the ‘facts' to be sure to remember them. Body language, such as scratching your nose or looking shiftily away, will draw attention to the fact you are lying.
10. Money, moolah, wonga. There's no subtle way of putting it. This is the bête noire of interview questions. The interviewer probably won't bring it up until asked, just to make you sweat. Yet if the job ad mentioned a "competitive salary" (read "as little as we can get away with paying you"), then you need to know. If there are likely to be a string of interview stages, save the question until you get through to the next level. Otherwise, ask if the interviewer could give you some idea of the proposed salary. You are likely to be asked what you are currently earning. Always remember to bump up your answer by at least two grand - the interviewer will nearly always assume you have done and you will only lose out if you are a martyr to your morals.