The Times They Are a-Changin

Times have changed to say the least due to Covid-19 and lockdown…and with it comes the need to change the way we approach an interview.

Author: Pauline Travers

While companies are still interviewing, the way in which they are interviewing has had to adapt to our current situation. Companies are now interviewing over Zoom, Microsoft Team and Skype. These forms of interviewing have become more popular and allow companies to continue recruiting and moving their business requirements forward.

We in turn have to adapt to this new way of interviewing and doing business, but, it can be quite daunting as we are so used to interviewing face to face, making that all important handshake (is it to firm/too floppy!), keeping eye contact during an interview, smiling, sitting up straight…some of these key points that we take for granted and do naturally can be transferred over to an online interview.

There are numerous advantages to moving job interviews online:
• The need to meet face to face is removed.
• Online interviews are more readily organised and attended within a shorter space of time.
• There is less pressure on candidates to attend a location for interview.
• If you are currently working it is easier to take time off for an interview…no need to use the excuse that you’ve to bring your car for its NCT!
• For companies it is easier for them to screen candidates efficiently.

So, you’ve been invited for an online interview. What do you do next?

Download and ensure you are familiar with the app that will be used for the interview. Go online and become familiar with the app…how do you login, do you need an account?

If you aren’t familiar with the proposed app, do not wait until just before the scheduled interview time to download it. Each app has slight variations so make sure you are familiar with the particular one you will be using for the interview. You will be emailed a personal meeting link and access code. Keep it safe as you will need this to log into the interview.

There is no harm in practising an interview with a family member or friend and recording your rehearsal! Practice some of the regular interview questions, you know the ones…what motivates you, where do you see yourself in 5 years, tell us about yourself? But also practice some of the dreaded behavioural interview questions…What is the most difficult / challenging situation you’ve ever had to resolve in the workplace? Tell us about a time when you failed?

Lights, camera, action
Lighting is important…try sitting in front of a window with the screen propped up on books if necessary so you are eye level with the interviewer. No one wants to interview your armpit, chin or forehead!

Pick a good spot the day before, preferably without your communion photos or anything too distracting in the background. Even walk around with the camera on your phone/laptop on while you are looking into it so you can see what the backgrounds look like. Don’t wait until right before the interview to discover it looks like you are interviewing in the middle of a jungle because you’ve so many plants around you!

Remove any distractions
Silence anything that could interfere with the interview including your phone and email notifications on your computer. Make sure the neighbour’s kids that are playing out on the trampoline cannot be heard on the call, lock the door of the room you are interviewing in just in case! Close all programs on your computer or laptop…not only to avoid pop-ups or notifications but so that you avoid a slowdown of your operating system than could affect the app video and audio feed.

Check the audio and video is working before the interview and how to switch them on!

Sit up and dress professionally
It’s time to peel off the pyjamas and put on something more professional. Yeah we’ve all done the calls where we’re professionally dressed from the waist up and wearing shorts or leggings and slippers from the waist down! Make the effort to look the part.

Smile, smile, smile
Just like you would if you were doing the interview face to face. Yes we are all finding it hard at the moment and we might not have a lot to smile about but just for this hour paint on your biggest smile!

Stay calm
Run cold water over the inside of your wrists (and sure you might as well give your hands another wash as it has been 30 minutes since you last washed them!). The cold water can reduce cortisol levels, release endorphins and bring down your heart rate, all of which can help stop a panic attack in its evil little tracks.

Cheat, yes cheat!
I mean be prepared! Have your notes and cue cards ready…this is the one time you will be able to have them in an interview but don’t constantly refer to them or flip paper around in the interview. But have a few notes that you can glance at if you need to. If you carefully place it below the camera’s view you can occasionally reference it if you get lost or want to remind yourself of questions you wanted to ask the hiring manager.

Maintain eye contact
Just like in a face to face interview it is still important to look your interviewer in the eye. Look directly into the webcam, not at the interviewer on the screen and stay engaged. If you have to put a post-it beside the webcam to remind you to look into it!

Familiarise yourself with the mute button in case of emergency
Need to cough (hopefully it’s not a Covid cough), sneeze or your neighbour is shouting up your stairs to see if you have any sugar, then use the mute button but make sure to press it again to speak!

Don’t stress
Online meetings, interviews and chats are commonly used now so we all have some form of practice of using them at this stage. And if you don’t, then practice before the interview!

Take it seriously!
Whilst interviewing online can give you a sense of comfort, don’t get too comfortable. Sit up straight, maintain eye contact and continue to listen to what the interviewer is saying…don’t start looking out the window wondering what the courier is delivering to the neighbours!!

When it’s all over you don’t have to worry about how firm your handshake is or fumbling your way out of the seat and out the door! Don’t be surprised if online interviews become the new norm when things return to ‘normal’…whatever that is…post Coronavirus.

Enjoy it and Good Luck!

Staying Active and Healthy!

The COVID-19 Pandemic – How to stay physically active: advice for adults and older adults

Why is it important to keep active at this time?

Ensuring that we maintain our activity levels can help our physical health and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety that are common at this time of heightened uncertainty.

Socially distancing, self-isolation and changes to our daily routines pose challenges to us all. However, there are several things that everyone can do to ensure we protect our physical and mental health and remain physically active.

What can I do to stay active?

We already know that adults and older adults should aim to accumulate at least 150 minutes of activity per week. For example, a 30-minute walk on five days of the week or 22 minutes of activity every day. Here we have listed some ideas on how to incorporate physical activity in the context of our present restrictions. Try to find something that works best for you:

Indoor Activities

• Sit less, move more and more often.

• Break up long periods of sitting – try standing when watching TV, when making a call or when reading a book or newspaper; walk on the spot for the duration of the ad breaks.

• Put some music on and walk briskly around the home for 10-15 minutes, 2-3 times per day, or walk up and down the stairs more often.

• Get active whilst doing housework – vacuuming, brushing/mopping the floors, cleaning windows.

• Dance to your favourite music.

• Workout with an exercise video or online group.

• Try seated exercises such as air punches or marching legs.

• Use home equipment or household items as part of your exercise routine.

Outdoor Activities (remember social distancing!) Be sure to wash your hands before and after

• Go for a walk or light jog.

• Go for a cycle.

• Do gardening and household DIY.

Maintaining your strength & flexibility

• Workout along with an exercise video or online group, with or without equipment.

• Perform yoga, Pilates, gentle stretching or Tai Chi.

• Do exercises using your own body weight. You can do sit ups and push ups.

You can use household objects as resistance equipment

• Canned food can be used in place of dumbbell.

• Shopping bags filled with a few extra cans can increase weight progressively.

• Remember – start light and increase weights gradually in line with your current ability.

Don’t sit all day Minimise the amount of time that you are sitting or lying, and break up with light activity such as housework or gardening.

Remember: If you haven’t been physically active for a while – start slowly and at a light intensity and increase your activity levels in line with your current ability. If in doubt talk with a health professional.

If you are unwell or have COVID-19, please use your energy to get better and do not try to be active. If you develop fever, cough or shortness of breath, stop physical activity and contact your GP or health professional.

Below are several online resources to help you keep active at home during the COVID-19 pandemic:

Siel bleu – Daily exercise challenges and at home exercise classes targeted at older adults: Live on Facebook daily at 11am:

Age and Opportunity: – Regular exercise challenges and at home exercise classes targeted at older adults

Joe Wicks (The Body Coach) – Daily exercise challenges and at home exercise classes.

Combatting COVID-19.

The Irish government has announced further social restrictions in an effort to combat COVID-19. We are been asked to stay at home until the 12 April, 2020. To limit any non-essential travel to a 2km radius from our homes.

Waterford City Local Employment Service supporting Jobseekers for the past 21 years is still operating behind closed doors.

Give us a call on 051-304951 or email your inquires to

We have an excellent website and Facebook Page – check out all the online information and resources.

Stay Home – Stay Safe. We’re in this together!

Employers…. Say Yes to YESS

Employers, as you are aware, there is a financial cost and risk associated to taking on new staff and I’m sure you’ll agree employers need all the help they can get.

If you are hiring, you may ask the question… Are there any supports available that will allow my company to give a young person a start – gain experience and hopefully prove themselves to be a great addition to my team?

The Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) may be the answer!

What is YESS?

The Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) is a work experience placement programme which is specifically targeted at young jobseekers aged 18-24 years of age who are long-term unemployed or who face barriers to employment.

The YESS will aim to provide jobseekers with the opportunity to learn basic work and social skills in a supportive environment while on a work placement. The scheme will provide a supportive structure for Participants, including case officer support for both Placement Hosts and jobseekers.

While participation on the YESS will be wholly voluntary for both parties involved, there will be certain qualifying and eligibility conditions that both placement hosts and jobseekers will have to satisfy.

All YESS placements will be advertised on the Jobs Ireland website, and interested jobseekers will have to log onto same to view scheme vacancies.

Who is the YESS for?

The YESS will be available to jobseekers and other eligible cohorts who are aged between 18 and 24 and have been out of work and in receipt of a qualifying payment for at least 12 months, or if unemployed for less than 12 months, be considered by a case officer to face a significant barrier to work.

Note: Candidates must be in receipt of one of the following qualifying payments:

Jobseekers Allowance, Jobseekers Benefit, One Parent Family Payment, Jobseeker Transition Payment, Disability Allowance, Blind Person’s Pension or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

What will it involve?

The YESS is a programme specifically designed to provide workplace experience opportunities to young jobseekers while on a work placement. Participants on the YESS will be required to work 24 hours per week, and placements will be for 3 months initially, with an option to extend this further to 6 months.

A designated DEASP case officer will liaise with the jobseeker and Host Company throughout the period of the placement, to monitor how well it is progressing for both parties and provide appropriate advice/support. This will include a formal review meeting after 2 months, which will facilitate the case officer in deciding whether to approve a request for an extension of the duration to 6 months.

Clearly defined learning and development outcomes for each placement will also be identified. A Learning and Development Plan will be agreed between all parties at the outset of the placement and the case officer will monitor the progress of same. The placement host will nominate an individual to support and mentor the participant during the placement.

How much is paid?

All participants will receive a payment of €229.20 per week from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection (DEASP). Participants whose underlying entitlement is in excess of that amount will continue to receive their weekly payment with an additional top-up allowance of €22.50 per week.

The YESS commenced Monday 1st October 2018, and is open to applications.

Where is the YESS available?

The YESS will is available to eligible jobseekers nationwide, but will be dependent on employers offering placements throughout the country.

Employers: The YESS will be open to organisations in the private, community and voluntary sectors only. There will be clear eligibility requirements for placement Hosts to participate on the scheme, and they must agree to Terms and Conditions when they advertise a placement.

All YESS placements must be advertised on the Department’s Jobs Ireland website, and employers must register on this site to do so.

Am I eligible to host a placement?

The eligibility criteria for an employer to host a YESS placement include the following:

  • An organisation, or a local branch, must certify that they have a minimum of 1 full-time employee who is employed for 30 hours or more per week (i.e. on payroll and subject to PAYE and PRSI)
  • The Placement Host should be a legal entity and / or a charity recognised by the Revenue Commissioners (with a CHY number)
  • The scheme is open to sole traders who satisfy the conditions of the scheme
  • The placement host should be fully compliant with all legal requirements
  • The placement host’s Public/Employers Liability insurance and Motor insurance, if applicable, should cover any participants on the programme.
  • The placement host should be fully compliant with current workplace Health and Safety and all other legal and sectoral requirements
  • The placement must be in accordance with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment at Work

The Youth Employment Support Scheme is co-funded by the Irish Government, the European Social Fund and the Youth Employment Initiative as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020

For further information on the scheme qualifying criteria, please click here The Youth Employment Support Scheme (YESS) .


Body Language – Picking Up and Understanding Nonverbal Signals

Today we are going to look at Body Language – the art of non verbal communication.

What Is Body Language?

Put simply, body language is the unspoken element of communication that we use to reveal our true feelings and emotions. Our gestures, facial expressions and posture. When we are able to “read” these signs, we can use it to our advantage.

For example, it can help us to understand the complete message of what someone is trying to say to us, and to enhance our awareness of people’s reactions to what we say and do.

We can also use it to adjust our own body language so that we appear more positive, engaging and approachable.

How to Read Negative Body Language.

Being aware of negative body language in others can allow you to pick up on unspoken issues or bad feelings. So, in this section, we’ll highlight some negative nonverbal signals that you should look out for.

Difficult Conversations and Defensiveness

Difficult or tense conversations  are an uncomfortable fact of life at work. Perhaps you’ve had to deal with a difficult customer, or needed to talk to someone about his or her poor performance . Or maybe you’ve negotiated a major contract.

Ideally, these situations would be resolved calmly. But, often they are complicated by feelings of nervousness, stress, defensiveness, or even anger. And, though we may try to hide them, these emotions often show through in our body language.

For example, if someone is exhibiting one or more of the following behaviours, he will likely be disengaged, disinterested or unhappy:

  • Arms folded in front of the body
  • Minimal or tense facial expression
  • Body turned away from you
  • Eyes downcast, maintaining little contact

Being aware of these signs can help you to adjust what you say and how you say it, so you can make him feel more at ease and receptive to your viewpoint

  • Arms relaxed
  • Friendly facial expression
  • Good eye contact
  • Engaging posture

When you use positive body language, it can add strength  to the verbal messages or ideas that you want to convey, and help you to avoid sending mixed or confusing signals

How to Project Positive Body Language

In this section, we’ll describe some basic postures that you can adopt to project self-confidence and openness.

Making a Confident First Impression

These tips can help you to adjust your body language so that you make a great first impression:

  • Have an open posture. Be relaxed, but don’t slouch! Sit or stand upright and place your hands by your sides. Avoid standing with your hands on your hips, as this will make you appear larger, which can communicate aggression or a desire to dominate.
  • Use a firm handshake. But don’t get carried away! You don’t want it to become awkward or, worse, painful for the other person. If it does, you’ll likely come across as rude or aggressive.
  • Maintain good eye contact. Try to hold the other person’s gaze for a few seconds at a time. This will show her that you’re sincere and engaged. But, avoid turning it into a staring match!
  • Avoid touching your face. There’s a common perception that people who touch their faces while answering questions are being dishonest. While this isn’t always true, it’s best to avoid fiddling with your hair or touching your mouth or nose, particularly if your aim is to come across as trustworthy.

We previously published a blog on Soft skills – “it’s not what you say but how you say it that’s important” – Check it out!

The Great Reveal: How to Answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” Interview Question

This question is generally asked at the opening of an interview – it can be a great asset to answer it correctly but it is one that you can get very wrong. It can also be framed, take me through your CV, outlining the areas of your work experience and competencies in relation to the role of…

This question strikes fear in people and they commonly say – “I don’t know what the employer is looking for” – You will know by reading the Job Advert and the Person Specification carefully – underline the key words: Prepare, Prepare, Prepare! If you prepare you’ll be surprised how easily you will sail through your answer.

Know The Buyer!

The employer has listed what they want in the Job Advertisement – it’s up to you to tell them that you have the required skills / attributes – use their words in your answer.

The best answer will begin by briefly telling the employer what they are looking for and then outline your main selling points that explains that you have what they require. When you focus on your relevant qualifications for the job you increase your chances of convincing the interviewer that you are ready for the challenge.

Why Interviewers Ask You the “Tell Me About Yourself” Question

From the interviewer’s perspective, this enquiry is one of the best for finding out if a candidate is suited to the role. It is worth remembering that the hiring manager wants to like you; it is in their interest to find the best candidates for their company. Recruitment is an expensive business and they want to get it right first time. The idea is to get you talking and to hear from you that you are the right person for the job.

How to Answer “Tell Me About Yourself”

You can use the most frequently stated do’s and don’ts in job interviews to help you avoid ineffectively answering any interview question. The don’ts when answering this particular question can be summed up:


  • Regurgitate your CV
  • Be too modest OR too arrogant
  • Include irrelevant information such as your favourite colour or wine
  • Discuss aspects of your career that have little or no relevance to the role or industry in question

You need to answer this question with laser-like precision, and it is a much simpler task than you think. The best answer to any common interview question is short and succinct. You may need to inject just enough personality to get the hiring manager to like you but resist the urge to ramble, brag, or hide in your shell. A great answer involves the following:


  • Detail ‘Who’ You Are: Begin by outlining who you are professionally and throw in a couple of strengths
  • Provides an Overview of Your Skills: Your interviewer may not remember your CV, so remind them by highlighting a few key skills that make you a good fit for the job
  • Explain Why You Want the Job: If we’re cynical, the main reason to get a job is to pay your rent and not starve to death, but the interviewer already knows that! Instead, outline that you want a new challenge and believe that the company and the job offer’s it.

Things to Avoid When Answering “Tell Me About Yourself”

Perhaps the biggest mistake interviewees make when answering this question is to go off on a tangent. The result is an answer that is an incoherent and rambling mess. You know it is a common interview question, so there is no excuse for not creating a ‘scripted’ answer and sticking to it. Remember, it is usually one of the first questions asked, so there is little danger of repeating information already mentioned in the interview.

In any case, here are a few things you should avoid mentioning:

  • Religious or Political Affiliations: Avoid at all costs. You have no idea if the interviewer shares your views, so it is best to keep a lid on it
  • Personal Information: This means anything you wouldn’t ordinarily tell a stranger. It also relates to information about your family

Frequently Asked Interview Questions Related to ‘Tell Me About Yourself”

  • While the following questions are not necessarily the same as “Tell me about yourself,” they are all designed to gain a greater insight into ‘who’ you are personally and professionally.


  • “Describe Yourself”
  • “Why Would You Like to Work for Us?”
  • “What Makes You Unique?”
  • “Outline What You Do in Your Current Position.”
  • “Where Do You See Yourself In 5/10 Years?”
  • “What Motivates You?”
  • “What Are You Passionate About?”
  • “Why Should We Hire You?”
  • “Why Do You Want This Job?”
  • “Why Did You Leave Your Last Job?”

In summary: Read the Job Advert / Person Specification; if you have what they are looking for or as near as possible begin by outlining what they want and proceed to tell them that you have the skills, experience, and drive to successfully do the Job.

Good Luck!

Waterford City Local Employment Service continues to offer excellent value

Ger Walsh – Manager of Waterford City Local Employment Service (LES) – has welcomed the finding of research commissioned by the DEASP that the not for-profit Local Employment Service (LES) nationally is successfully achieving full-time employment placement for 28.8% of those referred to them annually.

In addition, whilst working with those with lower qualification levels and most in need of employment supports, the LES has progressed the majority of its remaining caseload to part-time jobs and other pathways to work such as further training and employment schemes.

The research also found that a very high proportion of LES clients who responded to Indecon’s research “indicated that their attendance with a Local Employment Service had been beneficial, with 75% stating that their engagement had motivated them to find work or to undertake further education or training.”

The service also received significant endorsement from the employers who engage with it, with 89% of respondents indicating that their engagement with an LES had helped them to find suitable candidates for available jobs, while 83% of employers stated that the LES provided an efficient recruitment service for their organisation. “The LES approach is serving jobseekers and the state well. At this time of welcome falls in unemployment, there are still many who need significant support to achieve job-readiness and access the labour market”, said Ger.

“We work intensively with people in their local community, helping them to address any barriers to employment including skills needs, mental health issues, self-esteem and personal discipline”.

“Placing almost 30% of referrals into full-time employment is a significant achievement but it must also be recognised that for many of the today’s jobseekers, progression to a part-time job, internship, employment scheme or further training are valid pathways to full-time employment and career development”.

He continued: “The cost per full-time employment placement is €2544 and this reduces significantly when part-time positions are taken into account. The savings to the state in welfare payments as well as the transfer to the state in new tax income are considerable. In this context, the figures represent excellent value for money and demonstrate the benefits of collaboration between the state and not-for-profit community organisations.”

At present, the Public Employment Service (PES) is delivered either by the Department’s own Intreo service or by private contractors through Jobpath or by community-based, not-for-profit companies operating the Local Employment Service (LES) and Jobs Clubs.

The Indecon Report heralds a reconfiguration of these services in 2020. Whilst preparing to respond to the upcoming changes, Irish Local Development Network’s Marie Price Bolger cautions on the lessons from other sectors that followed a privatisation route,

“The value of community-based, not-for-profit employment services must be protected in any reconfiguration of Public Employment Services. They give an efficient, accessible service to jobseekers, they give transparency and value-for money to the taxpayer, they give the greatest level of control and agility to the funder, and their track record is endorsed by employers. Whilst all services need to continually adapt to changing circumstances, these key advantages must be safeguarded in any reconfiguration.”

JobsPlus: New Jobs – Less Cost

Employers, are you hiring?

Jobseekers are you looking to give yourself the edge over other applicants?

Government Grants of €7,500 and €10,000 are available

Not many things in life are free but here’s one: JobsPlus

What is JobsPlus? It is an incentive from the Department of Social Protection. It is designed to reward employers who offer employment of over 30 hours per week to recruits from the live register. Grants of €7,500 and €10,000 are available. The majority Waterford City Local Employment Service’s clients are eligible for JobsPlus.

How can I register? There are two parts. Firstly, Employers must register for JobsPlus, by following the link below:

When employers are approved they will receive an email confirming that they have been approved. The status of all applications can be attained by calling 071 9672535 / 071 9672583.

Secondly, Jobseekers must register their interest by accessing the link below:

When the Jobseeker is approved they will receive a letter of acceptance in the post. The status of all applications can be attained by calling 071 9672535 / 071 9672583.

How much is the incentive? A grant of €7,500 is payable over two years for Jobseekers on the live register over 12 months and €10,000 for Jobseekers on the live register more than 36 months.

However, in addition to the above A grant of €7,500 is payable to:

Jobseekers under 25 years of age and on the live register for at least 4 months in the previous 6 months.

Former one parent family customers whose youngest child is 7 years of age or over who transfers to the live register and are now in receipt of Jobseekers allowance transition payment and they have NO qualifying period.

Persons with refugee status and in receipt of Jobseekers allowance also have NO qualifying period.

A grant of €10,000 is payable to: Jobseekers over 50 years of age who are on the live register and have been at least 12 months unemployed in the previous 18 months.

How will the incentive be paid? The incentive will be payable monthly in arrears, over a two year period by Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT), by the Department of Social Protection.

Interested? Employers, follow the link to become approved for JobsPlus

Jobseekers to increase your chances of employment follow the link –

Waterford City Local Employment Service have almost 5000 followers on Facebook, we provide a free and confidential service to businesses of all sizes and are designed to make the recruitment process easy and hassle-free. If you have any questions call Ger on 051-304951 / 086 142550.


A New Year – A New Start

Great News!  From New Year’s Day, people in receipt of Jobseeker’s Benefit who take on subsidiary seasonal and casual work can earn up to €7,500 a year without impacting their rights to their Benefit.

We hear from jobseekers that casual work brings massive complications when they have to sign off and on etc., so it can be difficult to accept short term work.  Changes like this will hopefully give more flexibility and encouragement to people who want to work and will also help employers who need casual staff on an Adhoc Basis. We all know that a job is far more than a pay check and hopefully initiatives like this will help to secure more long term opportunities for all.

Read more on official announcement here;