Time to fill and time to hire metrics FAQ

Here are frequently asked questions and answers on time to fill and time to hire to help you plan, assess and optimize your hiring timeline:

What is time to fill?

Time to fill is the amount of time you need to fill a position. This metric helps you plan your hiring better and also serves as a warning when your hiring process takes too long.

How do you calculate time to fill?

Time to fill represents the calendar days until your company fills a position. To count those days, first define the time period you will be measuring. For example, your starting point could be the moment:

  • A hiring manager submits a job opening for approval.
  • HR or Finance approves a job opening.
  • A recruiter advertises a job opening.

The end of your time to fill is usually the day a candidate accepts your job offer. Choose what makes the most sense for your company, but make sure that you count time to fill consistently for all positions and teams.

How do you calculate average time to fill?

Calculate your company’s average time to fill by adding all time to fill measurements for each position you filled in a given period (e.g. a year) and then divide by the number of roles. For example, if you hired for three roles, with 20, 30 and 40 days time to fill respectively, then your average time to fill is 20+30+40/3 = 30 days. This calculation should refer to the same time period.

If you have positions that are always open (e.g. for junior salespeople), don’t include them in your time to fill calculations. This is because these positions would greatly inflate your average time to fill without reflecting the efficiency of your hiring process.

What’s a good benchmark for time to fill?

The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports an average time to fill of 42 days. Workable’s Benchmark tool, which gathers data from thousands of customers, presents time to fill categorized by industry and location. For example, the average global time to fill in Engineering is 59 days.

Keep in mind that other companies may not calculate time to fill the same way as yours. Also, having a higher time to fill than other companies doesn’t necessarily mean that their recruiting process is more effective than yours. Track this metric internally and compare it over time.

How can we reduce time to fill?

If you want to reduce time to fill, think of using more efficient recruiting strategies. Here are a few ideas:

  • Build a candidate database. You don’t have to look for candidates from scratch every time a position opens. Your ATS already has many qualified candidates who may have made it to the final stages of a hiring process, or applied after a position was filled.
  • Source actively. Reach out to passive candidates and connect with them. Even if you don’t have an immediate opening, lay the foundation for a strong relationship so you can contact them in the future.
  • Scrutinize your time to fill. Your time to fill has many layers: time to interview, time from application to phone screen and more. Find which stage takes too long and think about how you can improve it.
  • Create an effective referral program. Offer incentives for referring candidates and send reminders of job openings to your colleagues. Send them an email with a job description and ask them to recommend qualified candidates. This process reduces the time spent on job advertising and resume screening.

What is time to hire?

Time to hire is often synonymous with time to fill. But, you can also treat them as separate metrics and gain different insights. Time to hire measures the time between the moment your eventual hire entered your pipeline (through sourcing or application) and the moment they accepted your job offer. This metric indicates how fast you spotted your best candidate and moved them across the job’s pipeline.

To calculate time to hire, imagine that the day you opened a specific position is Day 1. Then, if your best candidate accepted your job offer on Day 25, and they applied on Day 10, your time to hire is 25-10 = 15.

What’s a good benchmark for time to hire?

The moment the best candidate applies, your hiring team should be ready to identify them. Considering that the most talented people are off the market in 10 days, it’s best to aim for the shortest time to hire possible.

How can we improve time to hire?

The more efficient your hiring process is, the shorter your time to hire will be. To reduce your time to hire, start by identifying what caused it to be higher than you’d expect.

  • Break down your hiring process. Measure how much time it took to move candidates from one stage to another. That way, you can discover whether your hiring team spends too much time on a particular phase.
  • Calculate time to hire per team. If there’s one particular team that inflated your average time to hire, talk to the hiring manager to discover the cause.
  • Train hiring teams. Both recruiters and hiring managers benefit from interview training, which can help them spot the best candidates for a role more quickly.
  • Use templates. Communicate with candidates by crafting effective emails through customizing templates. This can shorten the time you spend on scheduling and answering questions and will also reduce your time to fill.

What is “time to fill” vs. “time to hire”?

Time to fill and time to hire are often used interchangeably. But, it’s useful to separate the two metrics, as they can give you different insights. The difference between time to fill and time to hire is the point you start counting. You may start counting time to fill before a job is published. But your time to hire timeline starts when your best candidate applies or gets sourced.

So, time to fill tells you how fast your hiring process moves. Time to hire tells you how quickly you were able to identify the best candidate,  and is an indication of how effective your hiring team is.

More Recruiting Metrics FAQs:

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Nikoletta Bika

Nikoletta Bika is a researcher and writer at Workable. She writes about the nuts and bolts of HR and recruiting, with a particular interest in bias, interviews and teams. She tweets @Nikoletta_Bika.

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