Time to Hire

Hayden Kroff
Hayden Kroff
Time to hire is a key recruiting metric that provides an easy way to measure and improve HR’s impact. Recruiting is one of HR’s most important functions, so how can you be sure that you’re doing a good job? Equally as important, how can you show company leaders that you’re doing a good job? Never fear, time to hire is here!

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What Is Time To Hire?

Time to hire is a key recruiting metric that measures the efficiency of your recruiting. Essentially, it measures how long it takes for you to hire someone — the lower the number, the more efficient your recruiting process is. Time to hire is one of the most commonly used HR metrics because it’s simple to calculate, easy to track and impacts the bottom line (that’s right, HR has an impact on the bottom line!).

Here’s the calculation:

Day candidate accepts offer – Day candidate applied = Time to hire

For example, a candidate accepts an offer on October 31. They originally applied for the position on October 1. So, October 31 – October 1 = 30 days. (More on measuring time to hire later in this article.)

By measuring the number of days between when a candidate applies and when they accept, you’re narrowing in on how quickly you’re able to move a candidate through the recruiting process. In other words, you’re measuring how quickly you review resumes, contact applicants, set up and conduct interviews and decide who to hire. As long as you don’t sacrifice quality for quickness, hiring some quickly is generally a good thing.

Time To Hire Versus Time To Fill

Time to hire and time to fill are very similar in what they measure and how they’re measured. The main difference is the date you’re starting from. For time to hire, you start with the date a candidate applies, whereas for time to fill, you often start with the date a position opens.

The difference in what these two metrics measure is small but important to recognize. Time to hire focuses on how quickly you are able to move a candidate through the recruiting process. Time to fill focuses on how quickly you are able to fill an empty seat in your organization. Most of the time, time to fill will be greater than time to hire, since the candidate you hire isn’t usually the first one to apply.

Both metrics are helpful, but make sure to pick the one that’s more important to your organization. You might use time to hire if you’re looking to improve how efficiently you review resumes and set up interviews as a recruiter. The goals here would be to improve the candidate experience and not lose talent by being too slow. You might use time to fill instead if you’re also looking to improve the process of getting a position decided on, approved and posted. The goals here would be to improve your process efficiency and not waste time with an open position at your organization.

Why Is Time To Hire Important?

Time to hire is a key HR metric because it is both easy to measure and very important. Here are some of the reasons why time to fill is such a useful measurement for HR to track:

  • It helps measure efficiency. Recruiting will always be part of any organization, so making sure you’re doing it efficiently is important. You want to make sure you’re spending your time well because, as all HR professionals know, you always have more than enough to do.
  • It is tied to cost. The longer you take to hire someone, the more costly it is for your organization. This is where you have a direct impact on the bottom line — the quicker you hire a great candidate, the quicker that person can get trained and can start making an impact.
  • Leaders will want to know. Whether they directly ask for it or not, leaders at your organization want to know that the time spent on recruiting is worthwhile. Time to hire is a metric they can easily grasp and may already be familiar with that can show them the fruits of your efforts.
  • It helps you improve your process. Time to hire will provide a window for you to see specific areas of your recruiting process that can be improved. You can then adjust your recruiting in ways you know will be impactful, rather than just just shooting in the dark.

How to You Measure Time To Hire

While time to hire is simple to calculate, it can take some time to measure since you’ll need to gather the right data first. Here’s how you can go about it:

Step 1: Decide Your Goals and Scope

Before you dive into any of the data, make sure you have a clear picture of what you’re aiming for with this project. Decide why you want to measure time to hire, how you’ll use the results, how often you want to measure it, for what departments or what positions and for how long of a time period. Determining your goals will help you reduce wasted time and focus your efforts right from the start.

Step 2: Get the Right Data

This is often the longest and hardest part of the process. You need to gather the application date and acceptance date for every applicant you’ve hired during the time period you’ve specified. If you don’t have an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) that has this data ready, this can be a tedious step. Pro tip: figure out a way to easily track this information going forward so that you don’t have to spend so much time on this part in the future!

Step 3: Crunch the Numbers

At this point, you’ll need to do the actual calculation. There are two routes here:

  1. run the calculation yourself in Excel
  2. use an ATS or HRIS.

You should use the first route only when the second route isn’t available. Trust me, it will save you so much time. Your ATS might even have a pre-built report for this, or you can build a custom report.

Step 4: Interpret the Results

Once you have calculated time to hire for each person, you want to slice and dice the data. If you’re a basic Excel user, you can get different averages by filtering by department, role type (professional, manager, etc.) or any other factor. If you’re an advanced Excel user, you might use Pivot Tables to easily break things down and provide a deeper look.

This is where you can narrow in on specific questions. Which department has the longest time to hire? Do any roles take longer than others to hire? Are there times of year that have higher averages? Did any process changes yield better results?

Step 5: Present the Results

Now that you have all this information, your role is to do two things:

  1. decide what results are most important
  2. make the results easy to understand.

You’ll need to take a mental step back from the data to do this, since it’s easy to get lost in the details.

You’ll also want to decide who would benefit from seeing these results and what method of delivery would be best.

Step 6: Do Something About It

This step is so important it gets its own section below. HR analytics is like a map — on its own, it can show you where to go, but it can’t get you there. Always, always, always use your HR metrics to inform your practices and initiatives.

Methods To Improve Time To Hire

Measuring time to hire isn’t enough on its own. The metric is only helpful if you do something about it. Here are some suggestions on how you might improve time to hire at your organization.

Utilize HR Tech

The right technology can save you tons of time and can decrease your time to hire significantly. If you don’t use an ATS, you can likely find one that fits your needs and your budget. You can start with an internet search like “Best ATS for small businesses” or by asking for recommendations from other HR professionals. If you already use an ATS, make sure you talk with an account representative to make sure you’re utilizing all the features they offer.

Look at Each Part of Your Recruiting Process

This is a broad recommendation because every organization does recruiting differently. The big idea is to be critical of how you currently do things. What parts of the recruiting process take the most time? Are you waiting five or more days after an applicant applies to reach out to them? Do you have multiple rounds of interviews that end up taking multiple weeks? Does your offer approval process leave applicants waiting at the very end?

Set Some Goals

Set some specific KPIs, targets, goals or whatever you want to call them. Start small and few, but create some standards so that you are consistently working toward improving.

Get Feedback

Ask applicants, hired or not, about their experience. This could be as informal as asking an applicant why they withdrew or as formal as a post-hire survey. Again, start small and focus your efforts on what will offer the greatest value.

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Time To Hire

What is the average time to hire?
A quick search will give you many different answers to this question, but you’ll find overall averages hovering around one month. That said, time to hire varies significantly by many factors (industry, labor market, role type, etc.). I would strongly suggest comparing your results to others in your industry.
How does the time to hire affect the cost per hire?
The most basic cost per hire formula is: Internal Costs + External Costs / Number of Hires. Time to hire adds to your internal costs. Think about the time each person in the recruiting process spends, as well as how long that vacant position is not contributing to the company.
Hayden Kroff
Hayden Kroff

Hayden is drawn toward the Operations side of HR, always looking for ways to improve the employee experience. His background in Sociology helps him think of the big picture and challenge the way things are done. He also specializes in using data & analytics to make changes.

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