Evaluating Recruiting Metrics: “Time to Fill” vs. “Speed to Hire”

Are you tracking time to fill or speed to hire? Well, you should be tracking both. Together they provide insights into different aspects of hiring – from the broader view of the recruitment lifecycle to the specifics of candidate engagement. Tracking these metrics is key to developing an efficient and candidate-friendly hiring process.

Hired’s Senior Internal Recruiter Jules Grondin says, “Determining which metric to look at more closely depends on what matters most to the company at that moment. 

  • Do you want to look at time to fill to determine the cost per req for recruiter hours? 
  • Do you want to know the efficiency of their processes when the right candidate does entire the pipeline? 
  • Are recruiters interviewing the right talent? Are market trends affecting the pipeline?”

In this blog, we differentiate speed to hire and time to fill, why both are essential to a strategic hiring process, and when one might be more relevant than the other. 

What does speed to hire mean?

At Hired, we define speed to hire as the total time the candidate spends in the hiring funnel from initial sourcing to offer acceptance. It’s the average time it takes you to hire an individual candidate. Viewing the candidate lifecycle in terms of this window is important primarily because it’s the part of the hiring process where the recruitment team can have the most impact.

Speed is key because it:

  • Considers how quickly candidates are actioned and scheduled for interviews
  • Proves delivery of great fit candidates who are bullish about the organization
  • Illustrates a streamlined offer letter composition and negotiation process
  • Lowers the likelihood of losing top talent to competitive offers

Speed to hire matters to candidates too

Jules adds, “Candidates like speedy processes. It shows a company’s process is tightly kept and they are in full alignment for what they want in a hire. It’s a good statistic to share with active candidates because they will likely be more eager to engage in your process.”

The metric as a measure of success: 

During Hired’s webinar, Raise the Bar in 2023: Strategies from Top Employers Winning Tech Talent, Reece Batchelor, R&D Talent Manager at weighed in on hiring metrics. He says:  

“It depends on what your company’s goals are. You need to find the right balance. When you only track [speed to hire], it could push you toward neglecting other metrics. We track time to hire because as a recruiter you want to fill a role as quickly as possible. But it’s not the most simple metric. We would rather hire someone exceptional in three months than someone okay in one month. That’s what we really value. 

I think a better metric to track when you’re trying to determine how efficient the process is the time spent in each stage of the interview process. That drives us to book people in quickly, gain feedback, and give feedback as quickly as possible. If you prioritize something like that to ensure your process is efficient, you understand what great looks like for your hiring managers. Then, you give an excellent candidate experience and time to hire comes naturally.”

How to optimize speed to hire recruiting metrics

On board with speed to hire, right? Swell! Time to optimize this puppy. Toward the end of the hiring cycle, as candidates start to look better and better, there’s an opportunity to compress steps together in the interest of saving time.

For example, start conducting reference calls as soon as a candidate makes it to the final round of interviews. Scheduling and completing these calls sometimes drags, so getting a head start often shaves a few days off your total speed to hire. For extra credit, use these conversations to uncover material for your interviewing team to follow up on as they make their final assessment.

To further cut down on speed to hire, set reasonable timelines for offer evaluation. Ask your candidate how long they think they’ll need to make a decision.

What is an exploding offer? 

An exploding offer is one with an expiration date, typically short, within a few hours or days. It’s designed to force a quick decision, without the opportunity to compare options, procure counsel, or engage in negotiation.

Avoid having offers floating in limbo and perhaps agree on three to five days maximum. Be proactive when talking about offer evaluation: ask the candidate what they need to consider before making a final decision. This allows you to tweak the offer if necessary, and in some cases, may help them realize they’ve already made their choice.

Related: 3 Ways You Should Use C-Suite to Recruit Tech Talent (+ Free Templates) 

What does time to fill mean?

Time to fill measures the total time between an opened and closed req. It’s vital to gauge the effectiveness and efficiency of the recruitment process. While time to fill gives a broad overview of the hiring cycle, speed to hire offers a more focused insight into the candidate engagement phase.

Time to fill is key because it:

  • Helps organizations understand how quickly they can fill positions and adapt their recruitment strategies accordingly
  • Supports in planning and forecasting future hiring needs and timelines
  • Improves candidate experience (as a prolonged hiring process might deter top candidates)
  • Allows organizations to benchmark their hiring efficiency against industry standards or past performance

When to use time to fill vs. speed to hire

It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse of time to fill as it can provide some organizational insights. For example, total headcount projections will be important to your finance team. Further, time to fill is a good measure of how strategic your team is about opening new requisitions. Roles should be opened in the interest of being closed, and if reqs go unfilled for a lengthy amount of time, there is most likely a misalignment of priorities.

Even in these cases, time to fill isn’t as simple as the average number of days from job open to job close. Break it down both by department and level of seniority, as the variation here can be so vast that a single high-level metric isn’t illustrative of an organizational hiring rate.

When this metric is applied to clusters of employees more likely to have reliable times to fill, it provides a more accurate projection of when executives can expect desks to be filled.

As far as calculation goes, you may have to roll up your sleeves to get granular. Find the relevant dates in your ATS, plug them into an easy calendar tool like this one, and you’re all set.

Jules explains, “Time to fill is an effective metric to see how well recruiters are performing, if they’re recruiting the right talent, and how the market may be affecting this statistic. 

The longer a role is open, the more a company may need to dig into:

  • Which recruiter is running the search
  • If you’re recruiting candidates who don’t align with the role
  • How your compensation resonates and compares to market rates
  • How many inbound applicants you’re getting from the first opening to engagement from the recruiter to process/offer”

Balancing time to fill and speed to hire

Both time to fill and speed to hire are crucial for a successful recruitment strategy. The key is to find a balance. A rapid hiring process is desirable, but not at the expense of hiring quality. By tracking and optimizing these metrics, you’ll speed up the hiring process and improve the quality of hires. 

Originally written by Matt Hughes in July 2017. Updated by the Hired Content Team November 2023.

Source: Employer -


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