When talking about recruitment metrics, time-to-hire and time-to-fill are two of the most important—but they’re not the same.

While time-to-fill speaks to organizational politics and needs, time-to-hire is about the recruitment experience. Time-to-fill measures the amount of time between deciding to open a new role and signing a contract with a new hire; time-to-hire is the amount of time between a job’s first applicant and signing a contract.

Let’s get into:

  • The crucial differences between time-to-fill and time-to-hire
  • How to measure time-to-fill and time-to-hire
  • How these metrics will help you tighten up your recruitment

Understanding time-to-hire

We’ve all experienced this before: you send in your CV for a job you really like, and then…crickets. No contact. A few weeks, or even months, later you hear from a recruiter, but by then it’s too late. You’re interviewing at other places, you’ve already signed a contract elsewhere, or you’ve been turned off by how long it took to get in touch. 

Pauses in the recruitment process put applicants at risk for dropping out of the funnel, and the further along they are in the process, the more negative those pauses are for their experience—and yours. Recruiting costs are significant, and the more time you have to spend on interviews and tests, the more money and time you’re sinking into what could be an easy (or easier) process.

A high time-to-hire score can mean that there’s a problem in your recruitment process, such as:

  • Jobs aren’t posted in enough or the right channels
  • Recruiters are overwhelmed by the amount of applicants or open roles and can’t get back to recruits in a reasonable time frame
  • Hiring managers aren’t available to review tests or conduct interviews
  • Hiring processes are too high-touch or complicated

Measuring time-to-hire

Time-to-hire can be measured organization-wide or per-team. To calculate time-to-hire, divide the sum total amount of working days spent hiring candidates divided by roles hired. It will look like:

([working days from first job post to official hire, role A] + [working days from first job post to official hire, role B] + [working days from first job post to official hire, role C] + …) / (amount of roles filled) = time-to-hire

To calculate time-to-hire for your organization, use data for organization-wide hiring; for team- or department-specific results, use data from those specific groups.

Understanding time-to-fill

While time-to-hire measures the efficiency of your recruitment processes, time-to-fill measures the efficiency of your organizational hiring process. The difference between time-to-hire and time-to-fill is small but meaningful: time-to-hire count starts at the date of publish of the first job ad and time-to-fill starts at the submission of the official job req to HR.

SHRM set the benchmark for time-to-fill at 42 days, and the average cost at $4,129.

Measuring time-to-fill

Like time-to-hire, time-to-fill can be measured organization-wide or per-team. To calculate time-to-hire, divide the sum total amount of working days between submission of job req to official hire divided by roles hired. It will look like:

([working days… role A] + [working days… role B] + [working days… role C] + …) / (amount of roles filled) = time-to-fill

To calculate time-to-fill for your organization, use data for organization-wide hiring; for team- or department-specific results, use data from those specific groups.

How to improve your recruitment costs and success rates by harnessing your time-to-hire and time-to-fill

Time-to-hire and time-to-fill are invaluable metrics for recruitment and retention because they highlight areas within your control.

By smoothing out recruitment processes with different stakeholders—finance, hiring managers, and legal, for example—you will build a reusable recruiting process that will help you hire better talent faster.


From Shayna Hodkin

Shayna lives in south Tel Aviv with two dogs and a lot of plants. She writes poems and reads tarot.