Time-to-hire and time-to-fill refer to two areas of recruitment and retention that are within your control. Because of this, they’re invaluable metrics. And while both vary from company to company and industry to industry, they can give you essential insights into how you might improve and optimize your recruitment processes. This can help improve the candidate experience—and ensure you’re able to hire the talent you want within a reasonable timeframe.

Time-to-hire and time-to-fill are both recruitment metrics used by HR—but they’re not the same. While time-to-hire is about the recruitment experience, time-to-fill speaks to organizational politics and needs. While time-to-hire is the amount of time that passes between a job’s first applicant and signing a contract, time-to-fill refers to the amount of time between deciding to open a new role and signing a contract with a new hire.

This article will take a deep dive into:

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

What is time-to-hire?

Time-to-hire describes the amount of time that passes between when you contact your chosen candidate with a job offer and when they accept that offer.

It’s an important metric for two reasons. First, any delays during this crucial period can cause top candidates to drop out of the funnel. Delays in the hiring process can be frustrating and may encourage candidates to drop out, especially if a competitor approaches them with a faster time-to-hire.

Second, long hiring times can create negative experiences for prospective applicants and recruiters, which can impact your company’s image and reputation, making recruiting high-quality, qualified candidates more difficult.

Recruiting costs are significant. Cutting down the time-to-hire with a more streamlined interview and test process can help take the pressure off HR and hiring managers and keep the process more budget-friendly.

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

  • Jobs aren’t being posted in enough or the right channels
  • Recruiters are overwhelmed by the number 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

How do you calculate time-to-hire?

Time-to-hire can be measured organization-wide or by team. To calculate time-to-hire, divide the total 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] + …) / (number of roles hired) = 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.

Time-to-hire benchmark

Time-to-hire refers to the time it takes your HR team to hire the candidate you want, from receipt of the first application for an advertised role to signed contracts.

The average time it takes to hire differs from one industry to another. For example, time-to-hire in engineering and technology industries can often take almost 50 days. On the other hand, the average overall time-to-hire sits at 24 days.

Benchmarking your company’s average time-to-hire enables you to see if there’s room to optimize your recruitment process and make it more efficient. This could mean refining your job descriptions or setting up an employee referral program.

A short time-to-hire indicates an efficient recruitment process, from receipt of the first application to signed contracts. It puts companies in a solid position to hire the best candidates as soon as they apply.

What is time-to-fill?

The difference between time-to-hire and time-to-fill is small but meaningful. Time-to-hire measures the efficiency of your organizational hiring process and starts at the date of publication of the first job ad. Time-to-fill begins when a hiring manager submits the official job request to HR.

How do you calculate time-to-fill?

Similar to time-to-hire, time-to-fill can be measured organization-wide or per team. To calculate time-to-fill, divide the total number of working days between the submission of a job request and the official hire, then divide by the number of roles hired. It will look like:

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

Time-to-fill benchmark

As with time-to-hire, the average time-to-fill differs across industries. When determining optimal time-to-fill and time-to-hire lengths, it’s important to consider the diverse skill sets and levels of complexity roles require across various industries and more senior- versus junior-level positions.

What’s a good benchmark for time-to-fill?

As a guide, ensuring your time-to-hire is on par with your industry average is good business practice. Making your recruitment process and candidate experience as efficient and effective as possible helps boost the employee experience and your employer brand.

Time-to-hire vs. time-to-fill: a handy reference guide

Metric Time-to-hire Time-to-fill
Definition Time-to-hire is the amount of time that passes between a job’s first applicant and when a candidate signs a contract. Time-to-fill refers to the amount of time between deciding to open a new role and signing a contract with a new hire
Purpose Time-to-hire measures the speed and efficiency of your HR team and serves as an indicator of competition in the hiring market. Knowing your company’s average   time-to-hire can help optimize the recruitment process for candidates. Time-to-fill is the time your HR team takes to fill an open position. It highlights where HR can optimize the recruitment process and can highlight changes in the hiring market.

The importance of time-to-hire and time-to-fill in modern HR strategy

Time-to-hire and time-to-fill are invaluable metrics that highlight aspects of the recruitment process that are within your control. Both metrics vary from company to company and depend on many factors—from industry and company size to labor market regulations and job requirements.

Time-to-hire and time-to-fill metrics can help companies optimize their recruitment processes and build an agile strategy that can help you hire more qualified talent faster.


Tali Sachs

From Tali Sachs

Tali is a content marketing manager at HiBob. She's been writing stories since before she knew what to do with a pen and paper. When she's not writing, she's reading sci-fi, snuggling with her cats, or singing at an open mic.