What Is Time to Fill?

Time to fill is a metric used by organizations to track the overall efficiency of the hiring process. Time to fill measures the number of days it takes to fill a job from when the job is opened to when someone accepts the position.

Time to fill is one of the primary metrics that measures the success of a recruiting department. Tracking it helps an organization forecast how long it will take to fill open roles.

Time to Fill vs Time to Hire

Both time to fill and time to hire are standard metrics within a recruiting department that provide insight into the success of an organization’s recruiting efforts.

Time to fill, again, is the number of days a job requisition is open before being filled.

Time to hire is the amount of time a candidate spends in the interview process: the number of days that pass between when a candidate applies and when they accept the position.

Why Is Measuring Time to Fill Helpful?

Time to fill has several practical applications that will help your recruiting team contribute as true business partners.

  • Better forecasting. The information gathered with time to fill data can be used as valuable forecasting data that provides insight into headcount planning. Say your organization needs to hire an additional back-end software developer to help bolster product security initiatives. Part of the information you need to know in order to set accurate business expectations is how quickly the role can be filled.
  • Process improvement. With each piece of data collected on time to fill, your organization is able to go through a process improvement review. You can review what went according to plan and what unforeseen challenges presented themselves. Equipped with this information, you will be able to track your improvement with each hire.
  • Accurate budgeting. Your organization needs to know how much it costs to fill a role; this information is crucial to your organization’s budgeting and headcount planning. The only way to understand and accurately predict the cost of filling roles within your organization is to have data on how long it takes.

How to Measure Time to Fill

The formula for time to fill is simple enough: the date a candidate accepts an offer subtracted from the date the job was opened measures the total time that it takes to fill a role.

Step 1: Date the Requisition Was Opened

While this date is usually straightforward, it is important to use an agreed-on date because sometimes there is a lag between when leadership agrees to open a position and when it is entered into your HRIS. After taking into account HRIS manager processes, external job postings, and internal job postings, determine which date will uniformly be used as the official date a job is opened.

Step 2: Date a Candidate Accepts an Offer

This step also sounds simple, but again, it’s important to define and use consistent dates. Is the date of acceptance when a verbal offer is extended and accepted or when the written offer of employment is signed by the candidate? Decide which makes the most sense for your organization, and use that date consistently.

Step 3: Subtract the Difference

Once you have the date the job was opened and the date the job offered was accepted, simply subtract the two and calculate the total number of days it took to fill your open position. Be careful to define which days are counted (all days or only work days? Do holidays that fall on workdays count?). Regardless of what you decide to count, make sure that you follow the definition consistently.

Tips for Reducing Your Time to Fill

Hiring is a major cost center within an  organization, so you will constantly be looking for ways to decrease your time to fill. The faster you fill a job opening, the more cost-efficient your process will be.

Tip 1: Proactively Source Passive Candidates

One of the slowest ways to fill a job opening is to receive a requisition request, post the job, and wait for candidates to actively apply. While your role may be filled by an incoming application, it is a reactive way to fill a role that leaves you at the mercy of market conditions.

One of the biggest ways to decrease your time to fill is to proactively seek out passive candidates who fit the roles you are looking to fill. Another way you can decrease your time to fill is to begin this process before a job even opens. If you are involved in workforce planning meetings, you will know which roles will need to be filled before they open and can start building a talent pipeline. The same principle applies to evergreen requisitions or recurring skill sets that you frequently fill; proactively sourcing these roles makes sense.

Tip 2: Screen Heavily

Your time to fill is determined in large part by your ability to screen out unqualified candidates and move qualified candidates forward. Many recruiters and hiring managers screen for potential and have a tendency to advance a candidate so they can get the next interviewer’s opinion. Screening out unqualified candidates early is one of the biggest ways to decrease the time-to-fill metric.

Tip 3: Match Candidates to the Right Roles

Job applicants are interviewing you as much as you are interviewing them. There is nothing worse than getting a candidate all the way through your interview process and presenting them with a competitive job offer just to have them not accept it, putting you back at square one.

It is well worth your time to not only find applicants who meet your job requirements but applicants for whom your role furthers their career goals. Matching candidates into roles that fit increases your offer acceptance rate, which decreases your time to fill.

Tip 4: Decrease the Number of Required Interviews

Leaders may want to have each candidate meet with everyone on the team as well as cross-functional stakeholders, take a skills assessment, present on topics, and even complete sample projects. Even though each of these steps may feel crucial to hiring the right person, it is to your competitive advantage to shorten your interview process.

Are there two interviewers that typically meet separately with a candidate who could meet together? Is there anything you can do on your end to help candidates complete skills assessments more quickly? Are your managers taking several days to review skills assessments? Are your manager’s schedules booked out over a week? Anything you can do to condense the process reduces your time to fill.

Examples of Using Time to Fill in the Workplace

Time to fill applies equally to corporate and high-volume recruiting.

High-Volume Recruiting

High-volume recruiting fills dozens or even hundreds of the same position. It requires a different strategy from corporate recruiting, where you may have only one or two openings for a given role. Even though the recruiting strategies are different, time to fill is still an essential metric.

In high-volume recruiting, understanding your time to fill may be the difference between filling one hundred openings in a month or an entire quarter. The reason for this is that understanding your time to fill allows you to accurately forecast. If you need to fill one hundred openings in a month but your process doesn’t facilitate that amount of volume, you will not be able to meet your goal. If you accurately understand your time to fill and know that your process currently only allows you to fill ten roles per month, then you can make the necessary adjustments.

New Skill Sets

Even if a particular role in your organization has never been filled before, it is not impossible to provide an accurate expected time to fill. You can piece together time-to-fill data for similar roles within your organization to provide an estimated time to fill. For added insight, you can use market data to estimate the demand and marketing competition for a role. The higher the demand for a role is and the more competition you face to fill it, the more time you will add to your estimate. Reverse engineer the conversion rates of each interview phase within similar roles to better understand what stages of the interview process you may get hung up on, and plan to make changes in advance.

Hard-to-Fill Roles

Time-to-fill estimates are extremely valuable for hard-to-fill roles. Hard-to-fill roles can easily take six months or even over a year to fill. Your organization needs an accurate estimate of how long it takes to fill hard-to-fill roles. Additional data on external market conditions can further help you pin down an accurate time to fill.