FastTrack Recruitment at Ealing Council
escalla has recently completed a successful FastTrack recruitment programme with Ealing Council.
LB Ealing are one of the largest and most innovative councils in London. Alongside their involvement in escalla's latest FastTrack, they are also one of 29 local authorities currently undertaking a proactive Council Tax collection pilot scheme.
Through this latest FastTrack programme, we helped them to hire and train seven new debt recovery officers. Afterwards, they told us how they found the experience:
“escalla did an excellent job recruiting and training seven new debt recovery officers for us. It was very uplifting to see such a strong and dedicated group of candidates who had clearly prepared for their assessments and interviews. FastTrack is a definite winner and has enabled Ealing to successfully appoint a high standard of staff to take the Council’s collection service forward”.
-Corporate collections and housing benefit overpayments manager, LB of Ealing
Interview following Ealing Council's 'Debt Recovery Officer' FastTrack Programme
Patrick Hall – Ealing Council
Escalla FastTrack team – Tracey Perry, Lisa Coar, Amanda Shelley and Sandeep Basil
Kala - FastTrack candidate
ESCALLA: Hi Patrick. To start, we’d love to know why Ealing Council decided to use escalla’s FastTrack to recruit their new debt recovery officers?
PATRICK: With our experience of the market, we knew it would be very unlikely that we could successfully recruit to a major project. Suitably experienced and skilled staff are thin on the ground and usually in permanent roles or contracts. The prospect of successfully appointing seven officers wasn’t good, so we saw the escalla option of essentially sourcing and developing our own staff as a much better opportunity!
ESCALLA: So the first step was placing the job adverts for the roles. What was the response like from that?
FASTTRACK TEAM: The job ad went out on Indeed and was really successful. Just from this channel we got over 200 applications. And they were quality applicants; the calibre of the CVs was really good. From the initial sift, 18 of them were turned down due to their lack of customer service experience. The rest went through to the telephone interview stage.
ESCALLA: How does the telephone interview stage work?
FASTTRACK TEAM: The phone interview stage follows a standard format. Each interviewer follows strict criteria, asking the same questions and scoring the answers in line with their training. The interviews generally last about 20 minutes, which is long enough for us to ask the required questions. The candidates who score over the pre-set benchmark are then invited to the next stage.
ESCALLA: What is the next stage?
FASTTRACK TEAM: Successful candidates from the telephone interview stage are invited to the assessment day, which is run by escalla. At the Ealing assessment day, we had 49 people. We start by introducing ourselves to the candidates then, in this case, our client Patrick Hall did a short talk on what it is like to work for Ealing Council. This introduction always goes down very well because it helps the candidates understand more about their potential employer.
ESCALLA: What else does the assessment day involve?
FASTTRACK TEAM: Everyone undertakes a test – numeracy and literacy – which is done online and the results are available immediately. All candidates that score over a set level are invited to stay for a face-to-face interview, and unfortunately the people that don’t are free to leave.
ESCALLA: It seems a bit harsh to send people home?
FASTTRACK TEAM: It isn’t the easiest of things to do, I have to say. But we are lucky enough to have many applicants for these roles and we have to whittle down the numbers in as fair a way as possible. Each stage allows us to measure various skills in people and unfortunately, if they don’t make the mark then they don’t progress to the next stage.
ESCALLA: Who does the face-to-face interviews?
FASTTRACK TEAM: We have a team of escalla staff at the assessment day who do about eight interviews each. As with the telephone interviews, we use a strict criteria as in the same questions are asked and same scoring used so we get consistency across all interviews.
ESCALLA: What is the next stage after the interviews?
FASTTRACK TEAM: We collate the scores of the test and the face-to-face interviews. From the results, twelve people are shortlisted to go forward for four and a half days of training. Everyone is told the next day whether they have been successful or not. By this point, the candidates have been through a lot, so telling people ‘yes’ is much easier than telling them ‘no’.
ESCALLA: Why did you train twelve people when only seven were needed?
FASTTRACK TEAM: Unfortunately, we do have the odd person drop out. But we also want to give the client a choice of candidates, so we train more than is required. All the candidates understand this and carry on with the process willingly.
ESCALLA: How did the training go?
FASTTRACK TEAM: It went really well. We gave them an overview of Housing Benefits, Universal Credit, overpayments, debt recovery and enforcement within benefits. The candidates were all very engaging and interactive. They have to do a test at the end of the week, so that generally keeps people focused!
ESCALLA: Are there any other parts of the process left?
FASTTRACK TEAM: Yes, as soon as we have our final twelve, we run DBS checks (standard or enhanced – depending on the client’s requirements). We also take up references. This is often where we add a lot of value for our clients, as referencing can often be very time consuming. Having to track down old managers and HR departments is not that easy!
ESCALLA: What happens to the candidates after training?
FASTTRACK TEAM: They have another face-to-face interview with the client, and then they make a decision as to who they want to employ. We were lucky enough that we managed to secure eight people for the Ealing Council programme. Telling people they have got the job is one of the highlights of this process. We have had people cheering, crying and being stunned into silence!!! It makes it all very worthwhile. We then leave the client to sort contracts etc. and we liaise to organise a start date and then away they go!
ESCALLA: Kala - as one of the candidates, how would you rate the FastTrack process and would you recommend it to others?
KALA: escalla’s expertise alongside their professional, patient and genuine approach was invaluable to us. The process is quite long but worth doing and I am so very happy to have been offered a role at Ealing Council. I would certainly recommend FastTrack to anyone looking for work in a local council.
ESCALLA: Patrick – how would you rate the overall process?
PATRICK: escalla has done a brilliant job and we have got seven revenue officers that we needed. The quality of all of them was very high and it made our decision very difficult. Overall, this has been very successful, and I would recommend it to anyone else in a similar recruitment position.
Thank you to Patrick and Kala for sharing their experience with us.
Find out more about our FastTrack programmes, or get in touch to discuss your needs.
What is FastTrack?
FastTrack is an innovative blend of recruitment and training – designed to help you to attract, select and train local candidates with the potential to succeed.
The programme finds people with the right transferable skills from your local community with little or no experience. Then, through our award-winning industry and business training courses, gives them the core skills to become positive, productive members of your team.
FastTrack recruitment is one of the fastest and lowest-cost methods of hiring and training great new people. It’s perfect for multiple staffing requirements, or for those looking to replace expensive agency staff.
Benefits of FastTrack recruitment
- Fill vital roles at a fraction of market rate
- Attract motivated and productive staff
- Reduce staff turnover and attendant costs
- Help boost the local workforce
- Replace expensive temps
- Free-up managers from lengthy recruitment exercises
- More efficient and inclusive than traditional recruitment methods
- Tried and tested to meet local government recruitment requirements
Find out more about FastTrack. Or contact us to discuss your requirements.