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What is Time to Hire? A Comprehensive Guide

Asavari Sharma

February 08, 2023

As anyone will tell you, recruitment is one of the most critical functions of any HR division. So how does one keep track of whether one’s recruitment efforts are bearing fruit? By analyzing relevant metrics such as time to hire. Yes, that is right!

Among the most commonly used recruitment metrics is time to hire, which, in turn, is often confused with the time to fill metric. Here, we will lay down the differences between the two and dive deeper into how to measure your company’s time to hire and best practices to reduce it.

What is time to hire?

Time to hire refers to the number of days between a candidate applying for a job and a candidate accepting an offer for that job. The time to hire metric assesses the speed and efficiency of the recruiting process.

It also takes note of the candidate experience for people applying to work with the company in question. The lower the time to hire, the more efficient the recruiting process and the more hassle-free the candidate experience.

How is it different from time to fill?

Time to hire and time to fill are often mentioned interchangeably, even by seasoned recruiters. The two, however, are not the same. While time to recruit focuses on the days between a job application and job offer acceptance, time to fill measures the number of days between the approval of a job requisition and the acceptance of a job offer.

So, the time to hire metric tracks the time interval between a candidate entering the recruitment funnel and the candidate saying yes to the job, while the time to fill metric captures the entire length of the recruitment process.

How does one calculate the time to hire metric?

Your time to hire can be measured using this simple formula from Workable.

Time to hire = Day candidate accepted the offer – Day candidate entered the pipeline

So if a new job was posted on Day 1, a candidate applied on Day 13 and then accepted the job offer on Day 28, your time to hire is 28-13, i.e., 15 days.

There are some essential elements to take into account here:

1. Take note of the time to hire metric for each stage

Measuring time to hire for each part of the hiring process helps you see what is going smoothly and what could improve. For instance, if your candidates are taking too long to move from resume screening to the initial phone interview stage, it could mean you need a faster way to screen resumes or that you need to schedule more phone interviews per week.

2. Distinguish between different roles/departments

There may be extra requirements for specific vacancies that may increase time to hire without it necessarily being a bad thing. For instance, software engineering candidates may have to clear an extra testing round with a case study before being called in for an interview.

For instance, a Java software developer might have to take the Java assessment test by Adaface and answer scenario-based and code-tracing questions.

3. Track applicant quality

While the number of good candidates versus poor candidates does not directly affect your time to hire, examining the ratio could be helpful. This is because, by holding onto poor candidates while waiting for ‘someone better’ to come along, employers downgrade candidate experience by keeping them in limbo and also end up clogging the pipeline.

How does one calculate time to fill and average time to fill?

As we stated above, the time to fill metric simply refers to the number of days between a job requisition approval and a job offer getting accepted.

So all you need to do is define the starting point of that approval, be it the moment HR approves an opening or the moment a recruiter posts the opening online, and track from there.

You can calculate your average time to fill by taking the sum of all time to fill measurements for a particular year and then dividing it by the number of roles in question.

However, remember not to include jobs for which there are always vacancies (such as salespeople or delivery boys). These will unnecessarily inflate your time to fill without being an actual indicator of your hiring efficiency.

SHRM reports that a good average time to fill is 42 days. However, this varies greatly depending on the role being filled, the company’s individual processes, and the industry. For instance, Workable found that the average time to fill the engineering sector is 62 days.

Time to hire and candidate slate

Hiring managers, quite naturally, would want to assess and retain a qualified candidate as soon as possible after the application comes in. In theory, this could happen within a few days, allowing time for the pre-interview assessment and the interview to happen.

However, it is vital not to rush into the interview stage unless you have a candidate slate in place, which could (and should) take around a couple of weeks. A candidate slate is a list of five to eight applicants who have been vetted and found to be potential fits for the job.

The idea behind this is that having a few equally good candidates provides you with a benchmark when you interview each one and thus helps you select the first among equals.

The only time when you may not need a candidate slate is if you have already interviewed for similar roles in the recent past and thus know what to look for.

Best practices to improve the time to hire metric

Now that you know why the time to hire metric matters as a metric, let us talk about some specific ways you can track and reduce it during your next hiring drive.

1. Define the ideal length of time for each stage

There will typically be multiple steps along the hiring journey, any of which could be taking more time than you think. Therefore, check each stage of the process. For instance, you might take a closer look and realize that the time you spend on an initial phone screening of the candidates is about twice as long as you estimated it to be.

In consensus with your teammates, decide on an ‘ideal’ and a maximum length of time for every stage in your recruiting funnel. This lets you quickly benchmark how far off you are from your ideal and also helps to track progress in concrete terms.

2. Look for patterns across teams

When examining your current time to recruit, check if there are any outliers in any of your teams. For instance, if there is one particular team with an unusually long time to hire, it may be worth talking to that team’s hiring manager to see if they are facing any bottlenecks.

3. Have a solid candidate pool

Your Applicant Tracking System (ATS) will always have details of every applicant who tried for a job with you. Therefore, when new vacancies open up, do not waste time scouting for applicants from scratch. See whom the ATS has on file, especially those who might have made it to the end stages of the hiring process last time.

4. Source candidates actively

You might encounter passive candidates who are highly skilled but would not quite fit into any of your current openings. Do not bypass these candidates - reach out and build a relationship with them and let them know that you have them in mind for future needs.

This saves time for you and helps those candidates feel special and wanted, which means they will be likelier to respond positively when you do reach out later on.

5. Have a strong referral program

Employee referrals can significantly reduce the time you spend screening candidates and are a great way of showing your current team that you trust their judgment. Have a sound incentive system for providing referrals and sharing open job positions with your team first so that they can recommend people in their networks.

6. Focus on your most qualified candidates

You can greatly speed up your hiring process if you narrow your pool to the most qualified applicants from the start. The best way to do this is by sharing clear, realistic job descriptions so that only the candidates genuinely keen on the job may apply.

Also, remember that ‘qualified’ could look different for different jobs. While some positions require special certifications, others might rely more on demonstrable skills.

7. Have practical pre-interview tests

Your pre-interview assessments play a significant role in filtering out the ones worth interviewing and those who are not.

The more effective your tests are, the less time you will have to waste on dud candidates, and the more carefully you can examine the abilities of the top candidates to pick the very best one.

For instance, if you are hiring an English copywriter, they must have a strong command of the language. An English comprehension test by Adaface can help identify suitable candidates.

8. Train your hiring team

It is always a good idea to train your interviewers in tactics on how to ask the right questions and quickly zoom in on suitable candidates. Email templates can greatly speed up the process, particularly for routine communications like shortlisting or requesting information.

9. Take a data-driven measuring approach

Obviously, when you are tracking any metric, you need to be data-driven. Ensure that you are constantly monitoring the time to hire metric in the same way, including when in the hiring process you start measuring and the number of business holidays (if any) you need to allow for.

Make a note of different statistics related to your time to hire, such as how your time to hire compares with the industry average, the number of days between your final selection and the candidate acceptance, the time taken for candidates to transition between stages, and so on.

How you measure your metrics is vital to the results you get. A good recruitment platform will help with this.

10. Consider quality to hire as well

A useful metric to consider in conjunction with time to hire is quality of hire, which measures the value that new candidates add to the company after joining.

This is also a strong indicator of your recruiting success, as poor quality of hire will not help you much even if your time to hire is short.

How recruitment software reduces time to hire

The right tool can make any business process much easier, and time to hire is no different. An efficient recruiting software has multiple features that streamline and automate the hiring process, saving you time. Here is how:

1. Resume parsing

Any new application that enters the system is automatically parsed and converted into a rich profile that can be screened for suitability. Your team no longer has to sift through hard-to-read resume formats or import data manually.

2. Quick elimination

Modern tools can quickly eliminate unsuitable candidates based on pre-defined criteria, such as minimum degree requirements.

3. Interview scheduling

A recruitment tool can automatically send shortlisted candidates an interview appointment based on the dates and times available on your calendar. It can also reschedule as necessary and avoid conflicts with other candidates, saving you a lot of trouble.

4. Automated communications

With recruiting software, you get access to recruiting email templates that you can tweak and send out as needed. Bulk communications thus become a breeze.

5. Data analytics

A top-quality recruitment software solution will keep track of your time to hire and show you insights on how long each stage is taking. This way, you know where to make changes so that overall time to hire comes down.

Remember that time to hire is not everything

This might seem ironic given that we have literally written an article about time to hire, but the truth is that getting hung up on a single metric would not do you any favors. Rushing through an interview process just to speed things up could also lead to faulty hires.

Measuring your time to hire is an excellent way to ensure that your recruiting process is flowing smoothly and that vacant roles are getting filled up as soon as possible. For the best results, measure it along with other relevant metrics and take prompt action when you identify gaps.

But being too hung up on cutting down the time to hire metric also has its side effects. At the end of the day, you want the best fit for the job. So if you believe the ideal candidate is still out there, feel free to hold out a bit longer.

Take the time you need to thoroughly vet your candidate’s credentials - even if it means a few extra days. All the best!


1. How can a company improve the time to hire metric?

You can hire quality candidates quickly by defining hiring goals, identifying the best talent sourcing platforms, leveraging a recruitment software or ATS, and conducting pre-employment assessments to filter unsuitable candidates at scale.

2. What is an ideal time to hire?

While the ‘ideal’ time to hire will differ greatly from market to market, it is commonly believed that the timeline should not exceed 20 to 30 days.

Asavari Sharma

Asavari is an EiR at Adaface. She has made it her mission to help recruiters deploy candidate-friendly skill tests instead of trick-question based tests. When taking a break, she obsesses over art.

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