How to measure, track, and improve time-to-hire

A long hiring process is a frustrating experience for recruiters. They know that extended wait times and back-and-forth communication among HR, hiring managers, and senior leadership, while necessary, can often end up hindering teams who desperately need additional resources.

Candidates can also lose interest, or even accept offers elsewhere if your hiring process is too lengthy — causing you to miss out on highly-qualified hires.

This is why, on a long list of recruiting metrics that hiring teams track, time-to-hire is usually at the top. With the right data in hand, recruiters can recommend changes to leadership that will speed up the process and prevent qualified candidates from walking away.

What is time-to-hire?

Time-to-hire is the number of days it takes a candidate to move through your company's hiring process, from responding to your job opening to accepting your job offer.

This metric is typically used by HR teams to identify and resolve potential inefficiencies in the hiring process, allowing you to hire faster and provide a better candidate experience.

How is time-to-hire measured?

Time-to-hire is the number of days that pass between:

  • A candidate entering your hiring process (by responding to a job opening or being referred) and
  • A candidate accepting your offer
Time to Hire

It's helpful to know both the individual time-to-hire metric for specific roles as well as your average time-to-hire. Tracking this data on an individual basis can help you pinpoint issues with a specific job or team, while looking at your average time-to-hire can help surface outlying issues that may require further investigation.

Most applicant tracking systems (ATS) can generate an average time-to-hire report or break it down by specific roles, departments, or hiring managers. If your ATS doesn't offer this kind of functionality, you can calculate time-to-hire manually by following these steps:

  1. Find the sum of your time-to-hire for each role (for a month, quarter, year, etc.)
  2. Divide it by the number of hires you made in that same time period
  3. The result is your average time-to-hire in days
Average Time to Hire

Is time-to-hire the right metric to measure?

Some organizations prefer to track time-to-fill instead of time-to-hire. The two metrics are similar, but time-to-fill starts with the day that the open role was approved, rather than the day you posted a job.

Time-to-hire is the most useful metric for identifying potential inefficiencies that harm the candidate experience since it starts at the moment a candidate applies. This can help you pinpoint things like long delays in scheduling interviews, a large number of interviews with the same candidate, or long delays in receiving feedback from hiring managers.

Time-to-fill, on the other hand, can identify inefficiencies that also affect internal teams. These may be things like waiting too long for approvals from executives or hiring managers, or not getting enough applications from qualified candidates.

Both metrics are useful in that, when actively tracked, they can identify potential pain points for your HR team, hiring managers, and executive team. However, if your focus is on creating a better experience for candidates, time-to-hire is a better metric to use.

Why you should track — and improve — your time-to-hire

When you track your organization’s time-to-hire, you can expose the pain points and inefficiencies that result in things like the loss of qualified candidates or long wait times to fill vacancies. Armed with this data, you can then get to work on making improvements to your processes.

Improving your time-to-hire — and the candidate experience — starts with tracking candidates as they move through your hiring process. As mentioned earlier, your ATS can likely track this metric for you automatically, as well as offer advanced reporting on time-to-hire by role, period, or department. These breakdowns can help you identify specific problems — for example, one hiring manager taking a very long time to make decisions or a specific department falling behind in scheduling interviews.

If your ATS is unable to track time-to-hire or doesn't offer a complete breakdown of data, you may want to use an external tool or spreadsheet that's shared among your team. Whichever method you opt for, be sure that everyone on your hiring team is able to access and log data on a regular basis: incomplete data won't help you find all possible areas for improvement.

Once you have data for a few hires, you can generate a report showing your team's average time-to-hire. However, a high or low time-to-hire without context isn't very helpful, so if your goal is to find potential inefficiencies, you'll want to take a deeper look into how long each stage of the hiring process took, then break down what occurred within each stage.

For example:

  • How much time passed between the candidate's response to the job opening and a review of their resume?

  • How much time passed between that review and a call or email to them to schedule the phone screen?

  • How long after the initial phone screen did it take to collect feedback from the hiring manager?

  • How long did the decision-making process take internally?

  • Did this candidate have to complete any additional tasks (projects, whiteboard interviews, or on-site presentations) that added extra time to the hiring process?

Breaking down your data into individual stages will give you the best insight into where there are opportunities for improvement. For example, if your data shows that the average time to review candidate applications is a week, you may ask yourself:

  • Does the recruiting team not have enough bandwidth for the initial review? This might mean you need additional staff.

  • Could recruiters make use of a tool to automatically grade or highlight the highest-quality candidates? This could automate or speed up your processes.

  • After resume screening, is the hiring manager prioritizing making decisions on who to reach out to? You might check to see if they’re utilizing your ATS to effectively collaborate with the rest of the team, or you may need to have a quick conversation with them about why time-to-hire is important.

  • Are you receiving too many applications from unqualified applicants (which causes a delay when the team has to review all of them)? You may need to limit the number of job boards you post on or use the analytics in your ATS to determine which boards are bringing you the best candidates.

Hiring Process

How improving your time-to-hire can help with additional recruiting goals

Making improvements to time-to-hire can have a ripple effect across your entire recruiting process. Improving one aspect — like reducing the amount of time it takes for applications to be reviewed — can help you meet a number of your recruiting goals by allowing you to hire better candidates, faster.

Identifying and removing inefficiencies allows you to move high-quality candidates through your hiring process quickly, ensuring you keep applicants engaged while at the same time saving your organization money, resources, and frustration. Ultimately, by focusing on the length of time your candidates are in the hiring pipeline, you'll be able to identify additional opportunities for improvement that will better their experience, as well as your own.

About Hire by Google

Hire is a recruiting app by Google that uses AI to make the hiring process faster and simpler. Because it is designed specifically for G Suite users, with Gmail, Google Calendar and other G Suite integrations, Hire streamlines administrative tasks so that your team can hire the best people, faster.

Request a Demo to learn more about how you can hire smarter, together, faster, with the recruiting app for G Suite.