What is Time to Hire? A Complete HR Guide

the time to fill vs time to hire process by Shiftbase

In this article, we will explore the nuances of time to hire, understanding its importance in talent acquisition, its impact on an organization's ability to secure top talent, and how it interplays with other key recruitment metrics.

What is time to hire?

Time to hire is a vital recruitment metric that measures the average time it takes to hire a new employee. It starts from the moment a candidate applies or is sourced and ends when the candidate accepts the job offer.

This metric is crucial for hiring managers and HR teams to understand the efficiency of their recruiting process. A shorter time to hire often indicates a more efficient hiring process, while a longer duration may point to a slow and inefficient process.

By analyzing time to hire metrics, organizations can streamline their hiring processes, leading to better recruitment of top talent and suitable candidates.

Time to hire vs. time to fill

While time to hire focuses on the duration from a candidate's application to acceptance, time to fill tracks the time from when a job opening is posted until a candidate accepts the job offer. time to fill, therefore, includes the period before candidates apply, highlighting the efficiency of the job posting and applicant sourcing stages.

Both metrics are valuable, but they serve different purposes. time to hire is about the candidate's experience and the hiring team's efficiency, while time to fill is more about the overall recruitment funnel and labor market conditions.

Components of time to hire

The hiring process is made up of several stages, each contributing to the time to hire:

  • Job Requisition: This is when the need for a new hire is identified. The speed of this process can depend on the urgency of the role and the efficiency of the HR team.

  • Job Posting and Candidate Sourcing: Once the job requisition is approved, the role is advertised. The time taken to post the job and attract qualified candidates can vary.

  • Application Process: This stage measures the time from when job seekers apply to when their applications are reviewed. An applicant tracking system can streamline this process.

  • Interview Process: This involves evaluating candidates through various stages of interviews. The length of this stage can impact the average time to hire.

  • Candidate Assessment and Selection: Hiring managers and the HR team assess candidates' suitability. A delay in decision-making can extend the time to hire.

Useful Read: Assessment Centre: The Complete Employers Guide

  • Job Offer and Acceptance: Once a candidate is selected, a job offer is made. The time taken for the candidate to accept the offer is also included in the time to hire.

By understanding and optimizing each of these stages, organizations can improve their recruiting efficiency, reduce unnecessary bottlenecks, and ensure they hire the best candidates in a shorter time frame.

Why time to hire matters

Understanding the time to hire is crucial for any organization. It's not just a number; it's a reflection of the efficiency and effectiveness of your hiring process.

Impact on organizational efficiency and recruitment strategies

Time to hire directly affects organizational efficiency and shapes recruitment strategies. Here's how:

  • Resource Optimization: A prolonged hiring process consumes significant resources. By measuring and optimizing time to hire, organizations can allocate their resources more effectively, ensuring that the HR team and hiring managers are not overwhelmed with prolonged recruitment processes.

  • Strategic Planning: Time to hire metrics provide valuable insights into the recruitment process, helping organizations plan their recruitment strategies. By understanding how long it takes to fill different roles, HR managers can better forecast hiring needs and prepare accordingly.

  • Competitive Advantage: In a fast-moving labor market, the ability to hire quickly can be a significant competitive advantage. Organizations with a shorter time to hire are often able to secure the best talent before their competitors, keeping them one step ahead in the industry.

Relation to candidate experience and employer branding

The time to hire metric is also closely linked to candidate experience and employer branding:

  • Candidate Perception: A swift and efficient hiring process can leave a positive impression on candidates, enhancing their overall experience. When candidates go through a smooth recruiting process, it reflects well on the company's professionalism and respect for candidates' time.

  • Brand Reputation: Employer branding is significantly impacted by the hiring process. Companies known for a quick and respectful hiring process are more likely to attract top talent. Conversely, a slow and inefficient process can deter potential candidates and negatively impact the company's reputation in the industry.

  • Feedback and Improvement: Tracking time to hire allows for continuous improvement. By regularly assessing this metric, organizations can identify stages in the hiring process that need refinement, leading to better candidate experiences and a stronger employer brand.

Calculating time to hire

Time to hire formula by Shiftbase

Time to hire formula is a straightforward process that involves a few key steps:

  • Identify the Start and End Points: The calculation starts from the date a candidate applies or is sourced (Application Date) and ends when the candidate accepts the job offer (Candidate Accepted).

  • Collect Data: Gather data on these dates for each candidate. This can be done manually or through an applicant tracking system.

  • Calculate Individual Times: For each candidate, calculate the time taken from applying to accepting the offer. This is done by subtracting the application date from the acceptance date.

  • Find the Average: Add all individual times and divide by the number of candidates to find the average time to hire.


  • If three candidates took 10, 15, and 20 days respectively from applying to accepting the job offer, the total time is 10 + 15 + 20 = 45 days.

  • Divide this by the number of candidates, which is 3. So, 45 / 3 = 15 days.

  • The average time to hire for these candidates is 15 days.

This calculation provides a clear picture of how long, on average, it takes to hire a new employee, offering valuable metrics for assessing and improving the hiring process.

Factors affecting time to hire

Several factors, both internal and external, can influence the time to hire. Understanding these can help in optimizing the hiring process:

  • Complexity of the Job Opening: Specialized or high-level positions often take longer to fill due to the need for specific skills or experiences.

  • Efficiency of the Hiring Team: The skills and experience of the hiring manager and team play a crucial role. A well-coordinated team can significantly reduce hiring time.

  • Effectiveness of the Recruiting Team: The recruiting team's strategies in sourcing and attracting candidates impact the time to hire.

  • Quality of the Applicant Tracking System: Advanced systems can streamline the hiring process, reducing the time it takes to process applications.

  • Market Demand and Supply: The availability of qualified candidates in the labor market can greatly affect the time to hire.

  • Company Reputation: Companies with a strong employer brand often attract candidates faster, reducing the time to hire.

  • Internal Approval Processes: Lengthy internal procedures for job requisitions and offers can extend the hiring timeline.

  • External Factors: Economic conditions, industry trends, and even seasonal fluctuations can impact how quickly a company can hire.

Benchmarking time to hire

Benchmarking time to hire involves comparing an organization's metrics with industry standards to assess performance:

  • Identify Industry Averages: Understand the industry average for time to hire. This information can often be sourced from industry reports or recruitment analytics firms.

  • Use Hire Measures and Recruiting Metrics: Utilize specific metrics and measures to compare your time to hire with the industry norm. This comparison should take into account the specific roles and levels within your organization.

  • Consider Time to Fill Formula: Incorporate the time to fill formula as a comparative benchmark. This helps in understanding how your process compares with the overall industry in filling open positions.

  • Assess Internal Processes: Evaluate your recruitment process, hiring team, and recruiting team's efficiency against these benchmarks. Identify areas where your process is slower or faster than the average.

  • Set Realistic Goals: Based on these comparisons, set achievable targets for your organization. If your time to hire is significantly above the industry average, implement strategies to reduce it.

Understanding what constitutes a 'good' time to hire is subjective and depends on the industry, role, and company size. However, generally, a time to hire that is at or below the industry average, while still maintaining the quality of hires, is considered good.

This balance ensures that the organization is competitive in securing top talent without rushing the process and compromising the quality of new hires.

Strategies to optimize time to hire

To effectively reduce time to hire and enhance recruitment efficiency, adopting specific strategies that streamline the hiring process is essential.

Streamline recruitment process

Simplify the hiring process by automating tasks, using efficient applicant tracking systems, and maintaining clear communication among the hiring team. Reducing unnecessary steps can significantly speed up the hiring cycle.

Improve candidate sourcing

Expand sourcing methods through social media, recruitment marketing, talent pools, and employee referrals. A broader sourcing strategy can decrease the time to find and attract qualified candidates.

Useful Read: Mastering HR Marketing: Building Your Employer Brand and Attracting Top Talent

Enhance decision-making

Improve the speed of decision-making by defining clear roles within the recruiting team, utilizing collaborative tools for quick feedback, and setting timelines for each stage of hiring. Prompt and aligned decisions by the hiring manager and team can greatly reduce time to hire.

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In conclusion, understanding and optimizing time to hire is essential for any organization looking to streamline its recruitment process and secure top talent efficiently.

By implementing targeted strategies to improve sourcing, decision-making, and process efficiency, companies can significantly enhance their hiring effectiveness and stay competitive in today's dynamic job market.

Topic: Time
Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


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