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What Is Time to Hire, and Why Is It Important for the Hiring Process?

Amanda Price
6 min read

A streamlined, efficient, and effective hiring process is crucial to the success of any business. As you focus on bringing in the best possible talent, there are several metrics to consider, such as cost per hire or hiring velocity

However, some may argue that the time to hire metric is one of the most important metrics to keep an eye on. 

Below, we'll discuss what time to hire measures, how to track it, and why it's an important metric for your business to monitor.

What Is Time to Hire?

Time to hire is a valuable metric to ensure that your candidate experience is positive and that your hiring managers are as efficient as possible. 

This metric measures how many days elapse between initial communication with a job candidate and when they accept your job offer. 

Once you know your time to hire, you can compare it to industry benchmarks to see where your organization stands against the competition.

Tracking this metric can be a great starting point for revealing wasteful inefficiencies in your recruitment process, which you can then fine-tune to boost company productivity. 

For example, you might uncover that the turnaround time for background checks is unusually long. Or, perhaps you’re having trouble getting the best candidates to accept your job offers because the interview stage is too long. (Later, we'll give you some actionable tips for addressing these common issues.)

Time to Hire vs. Time to Fill

The main difference between time to hire and time to fill is when you initially start collecting data.

  • With time to hire, the clock only starts when your candidate submits their application or when initial contact is made. This metric can show you how long your hiring process takes.
  • With time to fill, you start measuring when you post the open job. This metric is especially helpful in showing you how long positions remain vacant.

Tracking both metrics gives you a comprehensive look at your recruitment process's overall efficiency.

Formulas for Time to Hire and Time to Fill

Time to hire and time to fill both provide valuable insights into your hiring team and recruiting processes. Below, we’ll teach you how to calculate these metrics.

Time to Hire Formula

To calculate the time to hire, you need two variables. 

The first is the day the prospective employee applies for the position. The second is the moment a candidate accepts the job offer. 

Your time to hire is the number of days between those two dates.

Time to hire = Day candidate accepts job offer - Day candidate applied for the position

Let's look at an example. 

If a candidate applies for your open job on January 1, and accepts the job offer on January 20, your time to hire is 19 days.

Time to Fill Formula

There’s some room for variation in the time to fill formula. You can start measuring when a job opening is first submitted for approval, when it's approved, or when you first advertise the position.

In all scenarios, the end variable is the same; it’s when the candidate accepts the job offer. 

If you choose to measure based on when a job opening is first listed, then your formula will look like this:

Time to fill = Day candidate accepts job offer - Day job is listed

For example, if your job posting goes live on March 5 and your candidate accepts the job on March 30, your time to fill is 25 days.

While some flexibility is allowed in this formula, keep it consistent across all departments if you want your data to be useful.

Why Is Time to Hire an Important Recruiting Metric?

Even the best hiring processes can improve. 

Measuring time to hire helps you find the inefficiencies driving away talent and also allows you to streamline your recruiting cycle so your candidates won't drop out prematurely.

Collecting this kind of data makes it easier to pinpoint weak spots in your recruitment so you can make specific, concentrated efforts to strengthen your recruiting strategies

A 2021 Talent Board survey reveals the top three reasons that candidates drop out: 

  1. They feel the prospective employer doesn't respect their time during interviews and appointments (e.g., showing up late, repeated rescheduling, running overtime).
  2. The recruiting process is too long.
  3. The salary doesn't meet the candidate's expectations.

When you consider the top two items, it becomes clear why it's important to keep track of your time to hire. It’s not just an internal metric used to track your team’s efficiency; you risk losing high-quality candidates.

4 Ways Businesses Can Improve Their Time to Hire

There are a few considerations you can make to decrease your time to hire: 

  1. Analyze your recruitment funnel to evaluate how long it takes to move a candidate from one stage to the next, and compare the data to industry benchmarks. This will help you see whether or not your organization is taking significantly longer to hire new employees than your competitors.
  2. Calculate the time to hire for each department and determine if any particular team is bringing down your average. If it seems like one department is struggling to fill roles, you may need to evaluate the positions themselves. Is the job posting an accurate reflection of the role? Does it highlight the benefits of working with your company?
  3. Train your hiring teams to help them identify well-qualified candidates more quickly. This training should also include how to spot red flags, which can help eliminate low-quality candidates earlier in the process to save time.
  4. Use time-saving interview techniques, like Zoom interviews or remote assessments. This can be an excellent way to respect a candidate's time (particularly if they're currently employed). These time-saving interview tactics can also improve the overall candidate experience.

Why Speed Isn’t Everything

Decreasing your hiring time shouldn’t be your only objective regarding recruitment metrics. 

If parts of the hiring process are inefficient because they take up too much time, see what you can do to improve them. 

However, don’t succumb to the temptation of skipping crucial steps for the sake of speed.

Best Practices for Measuring Time to Hire

Improving your time to hire won’t happen automatically. You’ll need strategic planning to shorten this time and improve your averages if you find inefficiencies. Consider these best practices to help.

Break Your Hiring Process into Stages

Break your hiring process down into distinct stages to make it easier to analyze. In addition to the average time to hire metric across your company as a whole, analyze the average time to hire metric for individual stages.

By breaking down your time to hire in stages, you can find out how long it takes for an applicant to travel from one step to the next. 

This way, you can fine-tune your hiring process one stage at a time.

Segment by Role and Department

You can also break down your process analysis by role and department. Some jobs are easier to fill, and segmentation will help you identify your more challenging roles.

Compare Your Results With Competitors

When looking at your time to hire, compare your results with your competitors.

If you’re significantly faster than your rivals, you might want to make sure you’re being as thorough as you should be when hiring a new employee. If you’re much slower, review your recruitment process for inefficiencies.

Be Data-driven

Measuring time to hire will yield hard data that will help you further refine your hiring process.

Here are the kinds of data you should review:

  • How long it takes to fill roles: Taking too long to fill a position can indicate that you’re not sourcing your candidates properly.
  • Time it takes to move between stages: Problems here can indicate issues with one or more stages of your hiring process. By collecting precise information, you'll be able to identify which stage it is.
  • How your time to hire compares to the industry average: Use this benchmark to see how your hiring process ranks against companies in similar industries. This will help you to be more competitive.

Once you collect your data, examine it to see if it reveals any areas of improvement.

Aim for Consistency

Stick to your measuring process, and make sure you record your time to hire in the same way every single time. Consider using an applicant tracking system to automate your tracking of this process.

Keep in mind that consistent measuring is the only way to generate dependable results!

What Other Recruitment Metrics Matter Most?

Time to hire is a crucial recruitment metric—but it doesn’t give you everything you need to know to enhance your hiring process. 

Looking at additional metrics can provide valuable insights into every stage of your recruitment. Let’s look at a few other valuable metrics to monitor to help you gain a holistic view.

  • Quality of hire: This measures the value new employees bring to a company. Keep in mind you won't immediately have data for this because it takes time to see what impact your new employee makes on your business. 

You might only start to track this after onboarding and several months of the candidate performing their day-to-day functions.

  • Sourcing stats: How many applicants enter your recruiting funnel through an employee referral program? LinkedIn? Social media? 

Understanding which sourcing channels bring in the best talent as quickly as possible will help you streamline your hiring processes because you'll know which ones aren't worth your time. 

Similarly, measuring the quality of the candidates from various sourcing channels will help you determine where to spend your energy as you look for potential new hires.

  • Applicant Drop-off Rates: This metric lets you know how many of your candidates drop out before completing the application process and at what stage. 

For example, if applicants drop off during the interview stage, you may need to assess your interviewing processes. Does it take too long to schedule interviews? Do candidates hear back from hiring managers quickly?

For more insight into the top recruiting metrics, read our blog on 15 Essential Recruiting Metrics To Track

Improve Your Time to Hire With Hunt Club

While there are many metrics to look at when determining how well your recruiting team is doing, the time to hire is one of the most popular. 

It’s simple to figure out and valuable to know; it also reveals where exactly you can eliminate inefficiencies and improve your overall hiring process.  

But one of the best ways to improve your organization's time to hire is by partnering with a recruiting firm like Hunt Club. Our Talent Advisors source, qualify, and hire for you, giving you access to a deep network of high-quality talent. 

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